Following a dozen major characters and twice that many supporting players through an eventful a quarter century is an impressive literary achievement. Griffin's "Brotherhood of War" series does just that: always competently, sometimes brilliantly. The flashes of brilliance are fewer and farther between in _The Colonels_ than they were in _The Lieutenants_ and _The Captains_, but they're definitely *there* in a way that they weren't in _The Majors_.
The action in _The Colonels_ takes place in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The central thread of the plot is the establishment of the Green Berets, and most of the book's best scenes revolve around the shaping of the Green Beret program. The book ends with the disastrous US-backed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro by landing a force of Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs--an operation in which many of the characters play peripheral roles. Griffin keeps old plotlines in play, but also takes the time to service a number of characters who were in danger of slipping out of the story: notably Barbara Bellmon, Paul Jiggs, and Phil Parker IV.
Griffin's ear for soldiers' voices and his familiarity with military routine comes through in many individual scenes: several training exercises, an unauthorized visit to an aircraft graveyard, Mac Macmillan's chance encounter with a young lieutenant, and a running subplot about the Green Berets' distinctive headgear. The bureaucratic guerilla warfare that took up much of _The Majors_ is back, but it works better in _The Colonels_, perhaps because the outcome will affect the lives, not just the careers, of people we care about.
_The Colonels_ ultimately fails, however, to hit the same heights that _The Lieutentants_ and _The Captains_ reached. Part of the problem may be the time frame it covers. _The Lieutenants_ had the shift from WWII to the Cold War; _The Captains_ had Korea; _The Colonels_ has the Bay of Pigs, but not yet Vietnam. Especially when it strays from the "building the Green Berets" thread, it often feels like it's just marking time.