A little harsh in its blanket condemnation of everyone with a security clearance, and at times a bit factually inaccurate, but a fairly useful overvieA little harsh in its blanket condemnation of everyone with a security clearance, and at times a bit factually inaccurate, but a fairly useful overview of the leviathan that is the modern military-industrial-intelligence complex. No getting around it; it's too big to handle and far larger than it need be. The threats we face are NOT existential....more
Richelson makes a good effort here, but part of the problem with both the book and the narrative of the Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST) at largeRichelson makes a good effort here, but part of the problem with both the book and the narrative of the Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST) at large is the lack of real use they've had in the four decades since their founding. Aside from the MORNING LIGHT deployment to Canada, NEST has seen no real action other than exercises and hoaxes.
Thus, unfortunately, leads to the need to essentially pad the book with short summaries of nuclear terrorism, 9/11, Al Qaeda in the 1990s, Aum Shirinkiyo, and other semi-relevant incidents and threats. But much of this is a bare chronological retelling. When it comes to NEST itself, all too many paragraphs are straight recounting of one exercise in 1984. Then in 1985, another exercise. 1986 saw yet one more exercise. And so on.
What little can be said about NEST is said well here. And the book proves the notion that much of the information classified by the US government is really just stuff we already know, but with a little more detail.
The scholarship in this book is more or less as good as is possible, but the inclusion of footnotes referencing Wikipedia articles is definitely a questionable sign. And seeing as Defusing Armageddon doesn't reveal much more than can be found in the subject's Wikipedia page, that might be a quicker-reading version of this book....more
BLUF: a great premise marred by flawed execution and negligible character development, and overburdened by exposition and the sheer inertia of plot wiBLUF: a great premise marred by flawed execution and negligible character development, and overburdened by exposition and the sheer inertia of plot with little to connect once scene to the other. All the more disappointing because it could have been so good.
Pressfield's novel was simply aggravating, not the least reason for which is that it had so much potential which was ultimately squandered. The premise is sound: the year is 2032 and private military companies are the new face of armed power, especially in the volatile Middle East where the massive oil conglomerates hire mercenaries such as those in Force Insertion to protect and stabilize oil fields. Disgraced Marine LtGen James Salter is the face of Force Insertion, and those men working for him would rather die than let him down. When Salter has a chance to reshape the United States - and the face of the world - it remains to be see just what his men (especially "Gent," the narrator) will do.
But with that established, the book careens all over the place, never lingering long enough on one location or scene to engross a reader at all. We're in Basra; we're in Dushanbe; we're in Washington; and it's all happening much too quickly to care. Pressfield worships at the altar of plot and exposition, and while I would be the first to admit I occasionally find those elements conspicuously absent from certain fiction styles, in this they are first, middle, and last on the author's priority sheet. Events unfold too quickly and without enough attention to context to draw in the reader. The whole book should really have been at least twice as long as it turned out to be, in order to flesh out the (non-existent) character development and elements aside from plot that can make fiction and literature such a delight to read.
It pains me to say this - again, because the premise is such a good start - but The Profession compares rather unfavorably to Tom Clancy. While Clancy's characters may have been one-dimensional, he at least took the time to sketch out that whole dimension, and wrote enough to compel the reader to follow along. Pressfield does neither, and this novel suffers dearly for that.
Though I must say (for those that will know what I'm talking about): it was nice to see "zenpundit.com" get a shout-out as a journalistic outlet of the future....more