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4.2 out of 5 stars
Sting of the Drone: A Novel
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 27, 2014
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Richard Clarke's Sting of the Drone is a fictionalized examination of the Obama Administration's use of remotely-piloted aircraft (commonly referred to as drones) as our preferred way to eliminate potential terrorists around the world. To Clarke's credit, he provides a fairly balanced look at the arguments in favor of and against this program, letting the reader decide whether the global war on terrorism is an end that justifies what amounts to targeted assassinations of those perceived to pose a threat to U.S. interests.

As is often the case in these types of novels, however, the characters, plot and setting seem to exist only as a way to help frame the author's arguments and showcase insider knowledge. The choppy chapters, constantly flitting between viewpoints of multiple characters, also prevent the novel from developing an effective flow and make it difficult to form a bond with any of the protagonists.

So five stars for the ideas and fascinating insider details, two stars for the storytelling, resulting in a three-star overall rating.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Readers curious about the U.S. Predator program can get an insider's look with this dandy novel. The book explodes with action as Clarke describes the leading pilots of the drones and the intelligence personnel who run the program.

There has been such success with drone strikes that one of the Arab leaders calls a meeting. He is the leader of the Qazzani Cartel who deal in heroin, weapons, gold and electronics. They also enjoy killing Americans.

They have a two fold plan which is to happen at Christmas time. On one hand bombs will go off in key American cities, in the other, with the help of Ukrainian computer hackers, they will strike against the drone pilots and destroy drones on the ground.

Clarke details the successes of the drone program but also conveys the bad publicity that sometimes occurs. He also describes the meetings in Washington where suitable targets are chosen.

He demonstrates how friendly countries have benefited from the drones taking out terrorist who had planned to take actions to destabilize the governments. This is so successful that the Cartel devises a way to set up a drone strike that made it look like the US doesn't care about the innocent lives lost.

The leaders of the drone program also have to deal with politicians who have forgotten what happened on 9-11 and want to curtail drone activity. Intelligence personnel object to this and feel that it's the best program we have.

This action based novel shows good suspense as we follow the activities of the terrorists as they take actions in the days prior to Christmas and we wonder how the terrorists can be identified and stopped.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2014
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

First off I have to say this story had so much promise and I was very interested to read it. I have heard great things about Richard A. Clarke, even though I have not yet read anything by him, and was very eager to read one of his works. That said I can only give this 3 stars (2.5 if this was allowed). The idea of the story was very interesting and relevant and hooked me from the excerpt, unfortunately the narrative style and the shear number of characters introduced throughout the book had me losing interest. The narrative style did not instill any connection to the characters or events for me. The amount of characters introduced throughout the book was also problematic for me, it was hard to keep them all straight. I was about 1/3 of the way through the book before I really started to feel like the story was grabbing me, but again with the narrative style and the numerous characters it was hard to hold my interest.

The last few chapters were amazing though, and that's why I gave this book three stars. The ending was very well done and thought provoking. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up with the possibilities of what could/will/might happen. If you're already a fan of Richard A. Clarke you will most likely love this. Unfortunately for me this was just not my cup of tea.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 16, 2014
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When some drones take out some of the bad guys, they decide to declare war on the US drone program - a multi front war - active against the drones themselves, active against the operators of the US drone program, active against US population targets, and via the media and public opinion against the program itself.

This is the story of that war from both sides.

The author was inside the government system for many years and has a point of view - which comes out slightly during his narrative for this novel - but, it does not detract from the basic storyline, nor does it detract from his descriptions of the various players involved in the various aspects of the US Intel "system" (I use the term "system" very loosely).

One even learns the politically correct terms for drones - first they were Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - but that sounded like humans were not involved - so, now - they are Remotely Piloted Aircraft - ahhh, the onward march of political correctness. Of course the pilots themselves, call them Flying Killer Robots - which they cut down to FKRs, which you can imagine how they pronounce.

This is a fun action novel, but at the same time teaches the novice reader about our drones, and the drone programs.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Richard Clarke is uniquely positioned to really understand the ever-increasing use of unmanned areal vehicles in espionage and war. They are a remarkable technology filled with promise, but that amazing potential also brings with it a lot of questions about how and when drones should be used, and also the unintended costs of this type of warfare may entail. In The Sting of the Drone, Clarke confronts all of these questions head on through a fictional tale of US drone warfare. We are taken into the halls of power, into the driver's seat, and into the field in this fictionalized war on terror. And here, terror fights back. I found the narrative at times weak, particularly some of the dialogue. The characters are okay. But the book is at least partly redeemed by the deep thinking it reflects about what drones do and what that means. He has his characters confront head on many of the ethical questions that come with drone warfare, and many of them also experience some of the unexpected pitfalls of this type of warfare, such as the toll it takes on pilots who deal death by day and then head home to their families at night. I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have always been very interested in the drone program. I believe that this sort of technology will be a big part of our future.
I only gave this book three stars though because I felt like the writing was not well done. Additionally I felt that there were just too many characters in the mix for me to be able to keep track of successfully. When this is the case it is hard to follow the story because you lose track of who is who.
The book discloses lots of possibilities for the drone program and the last few chapters of this book will really get you thinking.
Keep a pencil and paper handy so you can follow the characters and dive in!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2014
I was thinking that the story would take a more anti-drone stance. To me, the opposite was true. I got the impression that this group would have droned anything that walked or talked if their restrictions had been loosened. Drones should be destroyed in my opinion. Does no one in Washington get that we need to stop killing groups around the world and then maybe we can start to rebuild relations. These people are retaliating, not instigating. Stop the wars, already or we will have another 911.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2014
As a primer on drone kill operations and a discussion of the legal and ethical issues raised by extra-judicial killings this is a pretty good book. As a novel, however, it barely aspires to mediocrity. It is full of cardboard characters that spend much of the time explaining things to each other for the benefit of the reader. The result is a lot of clunky exposition including a four page "Congressional hearing" in which the author airs his views on the subject. The basic argument is that drone (aka remotely piloted aircraft) attacks are the only really effective weapon against terrorists. The book is at some pains to describe the lengthy process of locating and verifying targets, minimizing collateral damage, making the kill decision etc. Most interestingly it explore possible countermeasures that could be employed by terrorists. Finally, it is a quick read and can easily be finished in a few hours.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 31, 2014
There resides in Washington a Kill Committee which gathers in the White House’s Situation room whose job it is to pick out targets for the United States drone program. The pilots who control these drones along with military and intelligence officers reside at an airbase just outside of Las Vegas who act on the orders that come down from Washington.

Somewhere in Eastern Europe in the mountains where the drones find and bring death to their prey, is an enemy that is planning to fight back. Not just to the unmanned drones circling their skies, but against the Americans who think they’re safe back at home who control them.

*** While reading this book, I felt like I was watching CNN or FOX news. Not only was this thriller an eye-opener as to what is going on with our drone program, but it brought home to me the very real world we live in and how dangerous it truly is, with enemies who have no respect for human life. I could see how with the advanced technology at our disposal their might not be any need to lose so many of our troops to war on foreign soil, and felt that the drones were being used in a most responsible way.

Author Clarke, wrote a fully fleshed out and marvelous tale, taking into consideration the motivations of most of the players. What of course struck me though was the unmerciful ways our enemies use in striking back, at America with no thought of collateral damage to innocents. War is hell no matter who is fighting and I don’t want to get into my opinions of where the USA seems to think they have to protect the world and go where they are not wanted.

However, getting back to STING OF THE DRONE - this story was totally absorbing, the characters fully fleshed out, high-octane action, clearly written and just plain terrific. I totally enjoyed it and highly recommend this to anyone wanting a better understanding of USA drone program.

Marilyn Rondeau, for [...]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2014
This book was OK. It seems like Clarke was more interested in impressing you both with his knowledge of the drone program and the machines' capabilities. But as a story, it wasn't very cohesive as a thriller or mystery. We get to see the process that's gone through to approve a kill (repeatedly), and we get to see successes and failures of the program. Few of the characters are fleshed out at all, and the technology used to locate and capture/kill bad guys (either via drone or otherwise) seemed pretty over the top.
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