THE BEDFORD INCIDENT

BY MARK RASCOVICH

This is a novel of the sea, and it is told with a skill that merits comparison with the best. It consists of three parts:

The War is the cold war of the 1960’s, but on a little-publicized and bleakly isolated front where opposing naval forces secretly maneuver against each other in the eternally empty reaches of the Arctic Ocean. Here they contest for strategic stakes as vital as those of Berlin or Viet Nam.

The Chase is by a modern American destroyer on the track of a Soviet submarine whose mission is to probe NATO defenses based on Greenland. The code-name of this brilliantly elusive submarine is Moby Dick. As the stalking action moves through the lonely vastness of a frozen desolation, some of the fatal obsession which cursed Captain Ahab and his Pequod seems mystically to afflict Captain Erik Finlander, USN, and his USS Bedford.

The Battle is finally joined above the algaed hulk of a melancholy victim of one of the last traditional battleship engagements in the North Atlantic. While all the computer-controlled miracle weapons of modern anti-submarine warfare play their part, it is the far more terrifying obstinacy — and weakness — of inflamed human spirit which determines the ultimate outcome of this searing tale.