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The Profession: A Thriller Paperback – May 15, 2012
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"Gripping. . . provocative. . . a thinking person's techno-thriller."-Wall Street Journal
"'The Profession' is a compelling mix of modern weaponry, modern communications, modern politics and the warrior's ancient ethos of honor and loyalty. It moves quickly and with deadly precision ... This is the modern world taken to its logical and frightening extreme." - Los Angeles Times
"Steven Pressfield, in "The Profession", has written a novel of the near future that is as good and in some cases better than anything Tom Clancy ever wrote in his day."
-Mark Whittington, Yahoo!
"Pressfield’s military thriller stands out from the crowd by speculating on what the next generation of warfare will be like and then dropping the reader right into the action. Clancy fans should give this a shot." -Booklist
"When I read a novel, I want to go someplace, with somebody who's been there. In THE PROFESSION, Pressfield takes us into the heart of combat—and even deeper than heat of the action: he takes us into the soul of the warrior. This is all the more remarkable because the world he leads us into hasn't happened yet—though we see its possibilities, its unfolding reality, all around us. To give us this book, Pressfield went to the places were soldiers and ideologies are colliding, and he sifted the thoughts, motives and skills of the men at the cutting edge of those conflicts. But best of all, for me, is that he seems to have looked into my heart too."
–Randall Wallace, screenwriter of the Academy Award winner Braveheart
“From owner-operated Apache gunships to The New York Google Times, THE PROFESSION is chilling because it rhymes just enough with today to make us wonder whether this future will be, or only might be. Pressfield's trademark lessons in honor and loyalty are here, woven into the classical tradition of the warrior's way. It's a ripping read.”
—Nathaniel Fick, author of the NYT bestseller ONE BULLET AWAY, and CEO of the Center for a New American Security
“Pressfield imagines a world in which private military forces have all the power…When the commander of the largest force around decides to take control of the United states, his top commando—Gilbert “Gent” Gentilhomme—opts to wipe out his commander. Pressfield dominates the military thriller genre, and his works are realistic enough that military colleges like West Point assign them." — Library Journal
"Pressfield's impressive research shows throughout this novel.... a book that paints an all-too-plausible future in which American outsources its dirtiest jobs."
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Steven Pressfield is the author of several books, including the bestselling novels Gates of Fire and The Legend of Bagger Vance, as well as the cult classic on creativity The War of Art. He lives in Los Angeles.
Top customer reviews
I am going to try to write this without spoilers, but this book dies from a thousand cuts. It is roughly twenty years into the future (indicated by the use of advanced communications technology, and the merger of well known American companies into conglomerates), yet personal weapons have not leapt forward at all. None of the tools now entering the defense armament market (Remington ACR, Colt CM900, FN SCAR, etc) make an apperance, and the G36, now already almost a decade old, is hailed as a modern weapon. A three star general commands a task force of two MEU(SOC) units, the same kind of task force that spearheaded the initial invasion into Afghanistan, when it was commanded by a 1 star general (Brigadier General Mattis, incidentally, who seems to serve at least in some ways as an inspiration here). The mercenary forces are overwhelmingly portrayed to be American, when modern PMC's are largely pakistani, indonesian, fijian, and filipino, with western leaders, organizers, and executives. The most accurate description of contractors comes when the protagonists describes the many and varied drugs he abuses.
Any plot requires a certain suspension of disbelief, but here the plot asks that you ignore the very character that has been built up throughout the book at the very end. The protagonist is betrayed by everybody, given the chance at redemption, and literally cannot pull the trigger. This is a metaphor for seemingly everybody else in the United States, all wrapped up in themselves, and unable to do anything. The picture painted is a bleak one, but it is not an accurate one, and the bad taste it leaves in your mouth reminds me that it is probably best for Steven to stick to telling us those stories that have already happened, and not projecting those that might into the future.
I also found the treatment of women and Middle Easterners dubious at best. Perhaps the author was merely conveying his vision for the warrior mentality (although having worked extensively with veterans, I don't see this sort of demeaning attitude), but it struck me as patently offensive in parts. Almost every dark-skinned person is shifty and dumb while every American mercenary is an honorable guy. And women are generally treated equally as poorly with just three exceptions; most of the women referenced in the book are hookers and are as disposable as virtually all of the Middle Easterners. In one scene, hookers are paraded into a violent and chaotic situation, their shirts are ripped open, they are grabbed and then they are marched off possibly to their death, and never once does the author describe their reactions--they're just bodies to serve to advance the plot involving men's men. (And calling a pair of breasts "Headlamps?" Really? Was this book written on a playground?)
The pacing struck me as odd. Three-quarters of the book is about how wonderful the world is with private mercenary forces and how terrible the world is with weak-willed Washington politics. Ultimately, this sets up a terribly contrived ending that never once rung true to me. The ascension of an American emperor (of sorts) felt terribly unrealistic, the speed at which characters cave to this change (even when their friends are being murdered) felt contrived and even the primary character never felt like a realistic person to me.
The author frequently wants his characters and his fictional world to have their cake and eat it too. A military leader gives a rousing speech about how their actions are not about money, and then two breaths later speaks about how they'll control oil reserves and everyone will be rich. At the end of the book, this same leader speaks to the media in front of cameras and basically calls Americans idiots for wanting him as a leader, but, of course, they do it anyway. Sometimes a book that doesn't take a stand can be interesting for the reader, but I found this maddening because I couldn't tell if it was intended as a cautionary tale or a wish for strong, military might in Washington.
The book has other problems, as well. It makes a rather sad attempt at something spiritual, opening with a past-life experience that is immediately ignored until the final pages when the book drags it back out in an attempt to give depth to what otherwise seems like random and unexplainable character actions. And lengthy passages with nothing but military jargon may be intended to furnish reality, but they don't make for enjoyable or informative reading.
The slow build and rapid denouement, the strange new agey bookends that start and close the book, the lengthy sections of technical military jargon and the unbelievable politics and economics that are the foundation for the book never captured my attention.
If you liked his other books, you'll like this one. Even if you didn't, you might.