THE THIRD WORLD WAR: AUGUST 1985 by General Sir John Hackett and othertop-ranking NATO generals and advisers Macmillan; 368 pages; $12.95

In war games, thinking the unthinkable can involve much reading of the unreadable. The authors of this futurist fantasy, for example, cram their narrative with jawbreaking acronyms: FOSMEF for "Flag Officer Soviet Middle East Forces," STANAVFORLANT for "Standing Naval Force Atlantic." The plot is slowed by harrumphs: "Professional military men in the parliamentary democracies of the West are generally honest people, loyal to those they serve ..."

Much of this is understandable. Most of the writers are British officers, advocates...

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