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Coyle, Harold 1952- (Harold W. Coyle, Harold William Coyle)

Coyle, Harold 1952- (Harold W. Coyle, Harold William Coyle)

PERSONAL:

Born February 16, 1952, in New Brunswick, NJ; son of Harry Duke and Evelyn Coyle; married Patricia Ann Bannon, October 5, 1974; children: Sean Scott, Kurt Andrew, Sarah Elizabeth. Education: Virginia Military Institute, B.A., 1974. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, travel, reenactments, war gaming.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—Robert Gottlieb, William Morris Agency, 1325 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.

CAREER:

Writer, novelist, career soldier, and educator. U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve, became second lieutenant, 1974; retired as major, 1991. Tank platoon leader, C/3-68 armor, Mannheim, Germany, 1975-76; tank battalion S-3, AIR 3-68 armor, Mannheim, Germany, 1976-78; tank company commander, A Co., 3BN 68th armor, Mannheim, Germany, 1978-79; gunnery instructor, Armor School, Ft. Knox, KY, 1980-83; National Guard/Army Reserves advisor, Readiness Group Devens, U.S. Army, Ft. Devens, MA, 1983-85; assistant operations, combined field army, Republic of Korea, 1985-86; G-3 training, 1st cavalry division, U.S. Army, Ft. Hood, TX, 1986-87; task force S-3, 1st battalion, 32d armor, Ft. Hood, TX, 1987-89; Command and General Staff College, instructor, U.S. Army, Ft. Leavenworth, KS, 1989-91; executive officer, 3d Army/USACENT headquarters, Saudi Arabia, 1991; received Bronze Star, 1991.

MEMBER:

U.S. Army Reserve Officers Association, Naval Institute, U.S. Air Force Association.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Team Yankee: A Novel of World War III, Presidio (Novato, CA), 1987.

Sword Point, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1988.

Bright Star, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1990.

Trial by Fire, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1992.

The Ten Thousand, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1993.

Code of Honor, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1994.

Look Away, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.

Until the End (sequel to Look Away), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.

Savage Wilderness, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997.

God's Children, Forge (New York, NY), 2000.

Dead Hand, Forge (New York, NY), 2001.

Against All Enemies, Forge (New York, NY), 2002.

More Than Courage, Forge (New York, NY), 2003.

They Are Soldiers, Forge (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Barrett Tillman) Pandora's Legion ("Harold Coyle's Strategic Solutions, Inc." series), Forge (New York, NY), 2007.

(With Barrett Tillman) Prometheus's Child ("Harold Coyle's Strategic Solutions, Inc." series), Forge (New York, NY), 2007.

Cat and Mouse, Forge (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Harold Coyle is a retired career officer in the U.S. Army who has also become known as an author of military thrillers and historical military fiction. He began his literary career in 1987 with Team Yankee: A Novel of World War III, a sequel to General John Hackett's novel The Third World War. In Team Yankee, Coyle relates the hardships of an American squad fighting in West Germany. Here combat escalates and nuclear warfare between Americans and Soviets appears inevitable. Coyle followed Team Yankee with Sword Point, a 1988 novel in which Americans and Soviets vie for military supremacy in Iran. The Iranian forces, fighting both the Americans and the Soviets, threaten to trigger atomic explosives. The Soviets, meanwhile, might be preparing to launch chemical warfare.

In 1990 Coyle released Bright Star, an account of Cold War tensions threatening to degenerate into armed combat. The conflict begins after American forces arrive in Egypt for a training operation. Confronted by the presence of American troops in the already volatile Middle East, the Soviets reinforce their own military in Libya. This escalation, in turn, serves to exacerbate existing tensions between the two superpowers, and nuclear conflict soon threatens global stability.

Coyle's fourth novel, Trial by Fire, concerns a border conflict between American and Mexican armies. This confrontation is engineered by a Mexican drug dealer hoping to subvert his own government's forceful anti-drug activities. The ensuing conflict holds grave repercussions for both factions, and Coyle presents the unfolding battle with maps and numerous technical details.

With The Ten Thousand and Code of Honor, released respectively in 1993 and 1994, Coyle gives readers more stories of military conflict in the near future. Mayhem in Eastern Europe unfolds in The Ten Thousand, when the Ukraine will not give Russia its nuclear weapons store. American troops are engaged, helping Russia stabilize the Ukrainian nuclear threat as well as the ensuing chaos. Along the road, the Germans enter the struggle, working against the Americans. "[The Ten Thousand] reads like an extraordinarily complicated, high-tech chess game," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Coyle sometimes gives readers "minute details," noted the Publishers Weekly contributor, who added that the story is more focused on "tactical descriptions" than on "character development." The Ten Thousand's U.S. Brigadier-General Scott Dixon resurfaces in Code of Honor, a tale of U.S. military troops coming to the rescue of Colombia in its fight against Marxists and drug traffickers. Code of Honor retells "Vietnam War issues" and does not contend with notable "end-of-the-century concerns," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor; however, it does give "a welcome corrective to post-Desert Storm triumphalism."

Coyle's next novels, 1995's Look Away and its sequel, 1996's Until the End, break with the military novelist's characteristic look into the future. The books mix historical fact with fiction as they convey the American Civil War through the story of two Irish-American brothers. James and Kevin Bannon are politically at odds. First divided by their father, they are further separated when they fall in love with the same woman. The siblings are schooled at different institutions—one at Rutgers, the other at Virginia Military Institute—and eventually find themselves in opposing armies of the war. While a Publishers Weekly critic seemed disappointed in the predictable, "uninspired if lively story" that ends "unsatisfying[ly]," Booklist contributor Denise Perry Donavin praised the work as an "intriguing" tale with "prewar training and … battlefield experiences … absorbingly detailed." The Publishers Weekly critic complimented Coyle's "vivid" portraits of "the ferocious and bloody battles, as well as various real-life characters and events."

The Bannon brothers' lives from 1856 to 1863 are described in Look Away, with Until the End chronicling their experiences from 1863 to 1865. According to Theresa Ducato, writing in Booklist, the battle-entrenched brothers and their compatriots are "sympathetic but predictable characters" who sometimes come across "like contemporary soldiers fighting in the gulf war." A Publishers Weekly critic thought Until the End fell short of Look Away, the sequel having a "simpler" plot that gave its protagonists a "predictable" outcome. According to the Publishers Weekly critic, Until the End lacked "the subplots that added spice and intrigue to the earlier book."

Coyle focuses on the French and Indian War in Savage Wilderness, a 1997 release. A Publishers Weekly critic's assessment praised Coyle's ninth novel as a "vigorous, sweeping saga of frontier warfare." George Cohen in Booklist described Savage Wilderness as having a "bestseller," Hollywoodish feel to it, with a good guy/bad guy distinction, a neat ending, and a predictable quality. Specifying "love, war, bravery, and violence," Cohen remarked: "[Savage Wilderness] has just about everything that prompts less-than-sophisticated readers to buy it." Coyle told his story very well, according to the Publishers Weekly contributor who applauded the book, recognizing it as having a definitive statement—"great empires are won or lost by the blood, determination, and ingenuity of a few individuals, grappling on the dark fringes of civilization."

With God's Children, Coyle returns to giving readers a look at future military battles. "Coyle's expertly engineered plot" revolves around U.S. troops in wartorn Slovakia, related a Publishers Weekly reviewer who praised the 2000 publication, calling it "a stirring lesson in military leadership as well as an indictment of the use of America's armed forces as global peacekeepers." "[Coyle] superbly relates the inner thoughts of soldiers in dire situations," commented the Publishers Weekly contributor.

In Against All Enemies, a standoff between the FBI and a militia group quickly deteriorates into a tense conflict between the federal government and a defiant state governor. When a disgruntled former military man blows up a federal building in Kansas City, the Wyoming-based Fifth Brigade, a self-styled group of patriots, is surrounded by the FBI and accused of the terrorist act. Matters become more complicated when the right-wing Idaho governor, pushing for states' rights and accusing the federal government of ignoring the U.S. Constitution, refuses to extradite a half-dozen Idaho militia members for trial in Seattle. Instead, the politically minded governor mobilizes the state National Guard and expels the FBI and Justice Department agents by force. While the governor demands constitutional revisions to alleviate the crisis, other military elements under the command of Lt. Col. Nancy Kozak struggle to keep munitions away from guardsman and militia alike. Meanwhile, newly commissioned lieutenant Nathan Dixon, son of Gulf War hero General Scott Dixon, is assigned to the unit charged with neutralizing the threats in Idaho. With tensions high, conflict is inevitable, and participants at all levels must decide where they stand and with whom their loyalties lie. Coyle's "military knowledge is first-rate, and when the action kicks in it makes his ‘what if’ scenario all the more gripping and unsettling," observed a Publishers Weekly reviewer. A critic in Kirkus Reviews called the book "spit-polished military fiction for hardware fans."

More Than Courage explores the tense and exhausting world of on-the-ground surveillance of terrorist groups in Syria. In the sweltering heat and grinding tension of the harsh Syrian landscape, Special Forces Recon Team Kilo conducts twenty-four-hour observation and surveillance missions. Exhausted and stretched well past the date they were supposed to have been relieved, the recon team contends with the effects of eight grueling weeks in the field. Brutalized by their unrelenting mission and further stressed by high-minded, by-the-book commanders, the group of soldiers works to uncover caches of Iraqi special weapons that are said to be hidden in the Syrian desert. When the team is eventually captured, they face the horrors of imprisonment by a hostile enemy. Soon, a rescue mission is mounted, even though it may be too late. A Kirkus Reviews critic called the book "brilliantly immediate, a right-now novel with rounded characters, and indeed quite moving once the team falls into Syrian hands. Really well done."

Pandora's Legion inaugurates a new series from Coyle and coauthor Barrett Tillman, in which the age-old profession of mercenary is recast in the modern world as private military contractors, or PMCs. Strategic Solutions, Inc., is just such a contractor, populated by a group of gung-ho ex-military types and determined civilian specialists and headed by Mike Derringer, a retired admiral with strong connections to the federal government. In their opening adventure, the organization must contend with a plan by jihadists to place disease-carrying suicide agents at strategic locations throughout the world, hoping to infect thousands with the highly contagious and fatal disease. When the origin of the disease is identified as a political hotspot in Pakistan where American troops cannot go, Derringer has the agents of Strategic Solutions step in to locate and obliterate the source of the disease and the terrorists who sought to spread it. Although the characters are not as sharply defined as in Coyle's other works, Coyle and Tillman's "description of how a PMC operates, with all its strengths and limitations, is engrossing and believable," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor.

When charismatic Indonesian military man Hamdani Summirat tries to establish a new Islamic stronghold in southeast Asia, U.S. Army rangers are ready to quickly infiltrate and foil his plans in Cat and Mouse. Ranger Captain Nathan Dixon and his men enthusiastically plan their mission, but they are hindered by a self-absorbed battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Delmont, who is determined to use the crisis as a means of advancing his career. Delmont's orders and tactics are quickly seen as putting his men in unnecessary danger, but he has little concern for those who may die as long as he is perceived as a heroic commander with great potential for advancement. To save himself and his fellow rangers, and to successfully eliminate the danger posed by Summirat, Dixon must defy orders and come up with his own strategy for success. Coyle's "masterfully labyrinthine plot lines, pedal-to-the-metal pacing and brutally realistic portrayal of army life make this another winner," commented a reviewer in Publishers Weekly.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 1992, Gilbert Taylor, review of Trial by Fire, p. 1501; May 1, 1993, Theresa Ducato, review of The Ten Thousand, p. 1568; April 15, 1995, Denise Perry Donavin, review of Look Away, p. 1478; August, 1996, Theresa Ducato, review of Until the End, p. 1880; July, 1997, George Cohen, review of Savage Wilderness, p. 1794; April 15, 2002, George Cohen, review of Against All Enemies, p. 1381.

Decatur Daily (Decatur, AL), March 25, 2007, Danny Russell, "‘Strategic Solutions’ Feels Like Reality," review of Pandora's Legion; Danny Russell, "Captain Fights Terrorists in Cat and Mouse."

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2002, review of Against All Enemies, p. 453; March 1, 2003, review of More Than Courage, p. 330; July 15, 2004, review of They Are Soldiers, p. 646; November 15, 2006, review of Pandora's Legion, p. 1142.

Library Journal, April 15, 1995, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of Look Away, p. 112; March 15, 1996, review of Look Away, p. 112; August, 1996, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of Until the End, p. 110; April 15, 1997, Michael T. Fein, review of Until the End, p. 138.

New York Times Book Review, November 27, 1988, John Glenn, review of Sword Point, p. 23; June 17, 1990, Newgate Callender, review of Bright Star, p. 19.

Publishers Weekly, August 28, 1987, Sybil Steinberg, review of Team Yankee: A Novel of World War III, p. 65; August 5, 1988, Sybil Steinberg, review of Sword Point, p. 69; March 9, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of Bright Star, p. 50; January 25, 1991, Penny Kaganoff, review of Bright Star, p. 53; April 19, 1993, review of The Ten Thousand, p. 51; February 14, 1994, review of Code of Honor, p. 81; April 17, 1995, review of Look Away, p. 38; July 15, 1996, review of Until the End, p. 54; July 7, 1997, review of Savage Wilderness, p. 52; January 24, 2000, review of God's Children, p. 291; May 13, 2002, review of Against All Enemies, p. 52; July 26, 2004, review of They Are Soldiers, p. 40; November 20, 2006, review of Pandora's Legion, p. 34; April 9, 2007, review of Cat and Mouse, p. 34.

School Library Journal, May, 1996, Jackie Gropman, review of Look Away, p. 148.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), May 18, 2003, review of More Than Courage, p. 2.

ONLINE

eNotes,http://www.enotes.com/ (August 5, 2007), review of Against All Enemies.

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