From two former military officers, a geopolitical thriller that imagines a naval clash between the US and China in the South China Sea in 2034 and the path from there to a nightmarish global conflagration.
This crisply written and well-paced book reads like an all-caps warning for a world shackled to the machines we carry in our pockets and place on our laps, while only vaguely understanding how the information stored in and shared by those devices can be exploited ... it’s as if Ackerman and Stavridis want to grab us by our lapels, give us a slap or two, and scream: Pay attention! ... at a time when strident nationalism has become one of the defining characteristics of our age, Ackerman and Stavridis offer subtle commentary about the interconnectedness of the world.
Suffice it to say that there is conflict and catastrophe on a large scale, and it unfolds, as major conflicts tend to, with surprising twists and turns ... The strengths of the novel are anything but incidental to the background of one of its authors, Adm. Stavridis, a former destroyer and carrier strike group commander who retired from the Navy in 2013 as NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. He and Mr. Ackerman have written what in many ways is a traditional potboiler, one that proceeds with the swiftness and lack of deep character development that marks much airport fiction. But Adm. Stavridis not only understands how naval fleets work; he has clearly given a great deal of thought to America’s biggest strategic risks, and at the top of the list is war with China, which, as this book seems designed to point out, could occur quite by accident and at almost any time.
... a speculative thriller that seems all too plausible ... With such impressive credentials, the question becomes whether or not Ackerman and Admiral Stavridis can write a political thriller that not only matches their expertise but also entertains lay readers who are simply looking for a good story. The answer? Yes, they certainly can ... Lin Bao and Farshad are in fact excellent characters, well drawn, realistic, and remarkably engaging. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, after all, since Ackerman’s earlier novels drew effusive praise for his ability to present convincing and credible points of view from other cultures...Furthermore, despite the frantic and truly frightening nature of the story being told, the prose is calm and measured, almost elegant at times ... a haunting, disturbing cautionary tale about what can easily happen if international conflict is allowed to reach the boiling point. Make sure to add it to your spring reading list.