A discreet working body at the Pentagon — the Intentions of the Enemy Group, six men and one woman — detect Soviet movement toward nuclear war and prepare a report to warn those in authority. However, a hidebound Army general with a chip on his shoulder consigns it to the trash, and it’s left to the group’s members, who have been officially disbanded, to spread the word that the United States is not only in danger, but the doomsday clock is fast ticking down. Meanwhile, massive B-99s jets, the pride of the Air Force, are blowing up mid-air in frightening succession, and no one can figure out why. With no duties in the District of Columbia, two members of the group — Major Jesse Price, an Air Force pilot who lost an eye in combat, and Katharine Hume, Ph.D., of the Atomic Energy Commission – head to the Florida base from which most of the planes fly to help root out the source of the explosions.
Many critics consider Forbidden Area the alternative outcome to Pat Frank’s seminal work, Alas, Babylon. As in the latter novel, the Cold War’s outdated attitudes and terminology may shock Forbidden Area’s modern readers. However, Frank’s choice to feature a highly educated single woman as a prominent official of a powerful government agency and member of an important Pentagon group was revolutionary for its time and indicates his high esteem for the fairer sex. This is a hopeful, positive book that demonstrates the importance of intelligence to avoid the end of the world.