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First edition cover art
|Series||Jack Ryan universe|
|1996 (1st edition)|
|Media type||Print (hardback)|
|Pages||874 p. (hardback edition)|
|ISBN||0-399-14218-5 (hardback edition)|
|LC Class||PS3553.L245 E9 1996|
|Preceded by||Debt of Honor|
|Followed by||Rainbow Six|
Following the conclusion of Debt of Honor, Jack Ryan is sworn in as President of the United States minutes after becoming Vice President. With nearly every executive, legislative, and judicial figure deceased, Ryan is left to represent the United States by himself. Ryan must deal with multiple crises, from reconstituting the House, the Senate and the entire United States Supreme Court; to a challenge to the legitimacy of his succession to the Presidency by former Vice President Ed Kealty; to a war brewing in the Middle East.
When the Iraqi president is assassinated by an Iranian deep cover agent, Ayatollah Mahmoud Haji Daryaei takes advantage of the power vacuum by launching an unopposed invasion of Iraq. The Ayatollah unites the two countries, calling the new entity the "United Islamic Republic", or "UIR". With Indian and Chinese assistance, the UIR makes a bid for superpower status by attacking Saudi Arabia. Following a series of Iranian-backed terrorist attacks, including the release of a weaponized strain of Ebola virus in twenty American cities, the UIR declares war on both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Meanwhile, during a military exercise the Peoples Republic of China "accidentally" shoots down a Taiwanese airliner, creating a diplomatic crisis between the Peoples Republic and Taiwan. The crisis pulls a US Navy carrier group from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea, out of range to support the Saudis and deter the UIR's plans.
As a result of the Ebola attack, Ryan declares martial law and enforces a travel ban in an effort to contain the virus. The biowar attack is only a limited success for the UIR, as the virus is at once so deadly yet fragile that it cannot spread effectively. However, it does achieve the goal of immobilizing almost all American military units. The United States is able to deploy only one fighter wing, two armored cavalry regiments, and one National Guard armor brigade that had been training at isolated Fort Irwin.
Although the Americans are able to commit only one thoroughly trained, very heavy armored division and one multi-mission air wing to battle against three UIR Soviet-pattern army corps, it is enough when combined with a Saudi military enraged that their country has been invaded and two Kuwaiti armored brigades determined to avenge what was done to their country in 1990. The tide soon turns against the UIR, with its forces obliterated by the combined firepower of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. President Ryan sends Ding Chavez and John Clark into the UIR to target Daryaei. After showing the destruction of Daryaei's residence with the Ayatollah inside during a televised press conference courtesy of precision guided munitions dropped from F-117 Nighthawks, Ryan threatens to launch a tactical nuclear strike on Tehran unless those responsible for the attacks are immediately extradited to the U.S. to face charges and the facility where the weaponized Ebola was cultured is neutralized.
Kealty's challenge to President Ryan's legitimacy fails in court. However, due to the way Kealty's legal complaint was worded, the federal judge who heard the case inadvertently confirms that Ryan is the President of the United States.
In the aftermath of the crisis, appreciation of the unelected president grows. In a press conference in the White House Press Room after the UIR War is ended, martial law is lifted, Iran and Iraq resume their earlier status as independent nations, and Washington issues diplomatic recognition to Taiwan as the Republic of China, Ryan says he will seek election to the office of President of the United States.