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Looking for Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World Hardcover – May 22, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books; First Edition edition (May 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811734102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811734103
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,127,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Anyone faintly involved in the study of international affairs these days knows of Ralph Peters, the retired Army intelligence officer, author of 22 books of strategy and fiction, a columnist and commentator who leaves in his wake a succession of red-faced academics, generals, and defense contractors. Marching through conferences and laid-back strategy seminars like an Old Testament prophet, Peters summary judgments crackle and burn like fire from above. ...How Peters moved from the coal-mining country of Pennsylvania to international fame is the story of the Army at its best. A kid just out of high school packs up and leaves home for the bright lights, except that in the authors case, his bright lights aren't in Scranton or Harrisburg, but in London and Belgrade... What follows in Peters' narrative the majority of the book are memories of his and his brother Foreign Area Officer s (FAO's) odyssey through a decaying Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, traveling through the central and southern reaches of that vast empire as the grip of the bureaucracy falters and social controls are loosened. While the United States government looks on with indifference, Peters and other FAOs wander through the wreckage of the Soviet Union... Peters' travels in Russia set the tone for his later career; going to the place, talking to the natives, coming back, and reporting honestly, and damn the consequences...In a world already full of distinguished strategists, what makes Ralph Peters so unique? What characterizes his work and makes it stand out, both as literature and analysis? First, probably resulting from his love of literature and experience with fiction, Peters is simply fun to read... Second, Peters will take a stand. Acting with the best instincts of an intelligence professional, his career as a FAO was driven by a desire to actually see and report on events as they unfolded (sometimes at the risk of his skin) rather than reading secondhand accounts or assumptions by desk-bound staff... Thirdly, the author sees himself as a realist he believes that it is through the exercise of power that things are ultimately decided in the world, and applying sufficient force from the beginning of conflict ultimately saves lives... Looking for Trouble helps the reader better understand the turbulent drive bottled up inside Peters during his service in an Army he loved, but which in the end simply became too restrictive. A career is like a love affair, he writes, and you need to know when it's over. Dragging it on just spoils the happy memories. For friends and detractors alike, Peters has done us all a service with Looking for Trouble. It is his best book to date. Every generation and age has its restless men and women who, as Kipling put it once, can't sit still. Peters story gives us a glimpse into the fringes of civilization that many will never see, much less experience. This is an Army life well spent, pushing beyond frontiers to see and report some of the great events of our time. Contrary to what Peters said about the end of his affair with the Army, both Wars of Blood and Faith and Looking for Trouble indeed, all his books are, in his own way, love letters. --Colonel Robert B. Killebrew: Parameters; US Army War College Quarterly

From the Publisher

"Ralph Peters has produced a literary masterpiece in this account of a modern-day adventurer whose job it was to go to the ends of the earth. Peters writes with the same amount of guts he displayed in the service of his country--going where few would dare go, while calling things as he sees them. Highly polished and keenly insightful." Colonel James R. McDonough, U.S. Army, Infantry (retd.) and author of Platoon Leader

"A fascinating, compelling, and insightful memoir, wonderfully told. Ralph Peters delivers again. A superb book." Major General Sid Shachnow, U.S. Army Special Forces (retd.) Author of the bestseller Hope and Honor

"Every generation produces an adventurer who captures key moments in unexpected places that define the times. Ralph Peters is our generation's man and he nailed it--for those of us who witnessed the end of empire, there isn't a more brilliant, compellingly written memoir on a shelf anywhere." Colonel Tom "The Man Who Would Be Khan" Wilhelm, U.S. Army (retd.)

More About the Author

Fox News Strategic Analyst Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer and former enlisted man, a controversial military-reform advocate, a journalist who has covered multiple conflicts, and a traveler and researcher with experience in over 70 countries. He is the author of 27 books, including a range of works on security matters as well as bestselling and prize-winning novels.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I haven't laughed quite that hard from reading a book in some time.
Jeff Wills
I was immediately charmed anew by the poetic writing and the visually elegant turns of phrase.
Robert David STEELE Vivas
If policy-makers still did their own reading---this book would be high on the list.
J. Scott Shipman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By David J. Danelo on July 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Marine Corps officers would call this a collection of sea stories -- tales of seedy fortune, hard-knock education, and derring-do that leaves readers in stitches, tears, or both. After three decades of globetrotting on behalf of America, this is a book that Ralph Peters has earned the right to write. All his hallmarks are on display in "Looking for Trouble": Kissinger-esque insight, Jeremiah-like candor, and a wit (and karaoke partner) that Mark Twain would envy. Reading this is the most fun I've had with travel writing this side of Robert Louis Stevenson and John Steinbeck.

A cynical bookbuyer might discount the five stars and voluminous accolades as just a literary comrade's pep talk. However, this is Peters's first work of nonfiction that I thought rated five stars. His strategic tomes were interesting, colorful, and well-written. But Peters wrote those books with urgency, attempting to square away the post-9/11 U.S. military and educate the Pentagon's minions to prevent them from doing anything stupid (well, at least he tried). They didn't quite have that extra spark.

"Looking for Trouble" does. And then some.

I had thought about ending this review with quotes from the outstanding statements I found in the narrative. If I was going to grant Peters a perfect score, I figured I should at least show him off a bit to justify my judgment. As I was reading, I folded back each page that I found a remarkable sentence, unexpected insight, or laugh-out-loud outrageous illustration.

I bookmarked 53 pages.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is not, as some might expect, a collection of past Op-Eds, but rather an extraordinary retrospective at the 1989-1996 time frame when officers like Ralph (and General Al Gray, myself, and a number of others in the Army and the Marines) were seeing the writing on the wall: the end of big war and the emergence of global instability in every clime and place). Ralph actually walked the ground and had "eyes on."

I was immediately charmed anew by the poetic writing and the visually elegant turns of phrase. I have in my notes: chuckled, amused, reminded.

This review is going to combine my fly leaf notes with as many short quotes as I can fit in within my 1,000 word allotment.

Notes first:

Deep reading of Tolstoy and others set the stage for *understanding* today's culture and mindset in Russia. Earlier in his life, a subscription gift from an aunt to National Geographic opened his eyes to the rest of the world.

Early on, disdain for how we spend billions on satellites and nothing on officers walking the ground. He notes that overt human intelligence can absorb and articulate what no satellite can provide: "the temper of the people, the taste of the land."

USSR in 1991 was potholes and rust. In his "walk-about" he gained direct invited access to an MVD commander's office, to all of the local "secret" messages, and had invited "eyes on" the MVD special intelligence communications room.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Nikephorus Phokas on July 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ralph Peter's book should be required reading for every Marxism-besotted and multiculturalism-drunk humanities department in the United States. He stumbled upon an elemental truth in a youthful visit to Tito's Yugoslavia with its communism-lite: "There was nothing like firsthand exposure to the dialectical materialism to teach that the dialectic rarely delivered the material. Leftist rhetoric is wonderfully seductive. The tragedy is that those stirring promises are worthless." Most of the book adventures over the center of that contagion, or as Peters likes to describe it, "across the rotting corpse of the former Soviet Union."
This book gives that fingertip feel of anecdotal truth to this marvelous combination of memoir, travelogue, and social and strategic commentary. Not since the Comte de Custine traveled across Russia in the late 18th century (pegging the Russians as blond Orientals, by the way) has there been such a deft and insightful portrait of that immense and wasted land. Tongue in cheek he opines that he is convinced there is no word in Russian for maintenance; certainly the epitaph of the Soviet Union is "seventy-four years of deferred maintenance." But it is the lives blighted on the altar of ideology that draw out his empathy in the penetrating human portraits he sketches with his prose and everywhere is the waste of human potential, the lives emptied of a future.
Yet, he does not overlook the beauty. Peters has a magic inkwell, I am convinced after reading almost everything he has written from his thrillers to his strategic essays to his incomparable Owen Parry series of Civil War murder mysteries. He dips his pen into a poet's ink of beauty and writes a description of the Baltic coast.
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