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The Scorpion's Gate Hardcover – October 25, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
It's 2010, and the newly established Republic of Islamyah;the former Saudi Arabia;is trying to destabilize Bahrain: the Diplomat Hotel has been bombed, and, as the first chapter of this intense debut thriller closes, the Crowne Plaza is "pancaking." Meanwhile, the deposed House of Saud is holed up in Houston; the Chinese are providing arms and training to Islamyah; the Iranians have the bomb. Secretary of Defense Henry Conrad thinks the time is ripe to invade Islamyah and seize its oil, for which the U.S. is locked in deadly competition with China. Cooler heads in the U.S. (and British) hierarchies are very, very alarmed. Sound familiar? Clarke's Against All Enemies delivered an apostate critique of the Bush administration's counterterrorism efforts, along with a vision of the future very much like today. The writing's nothing special; what is special is Clarke's passionate and deftly detailed version of the present, albeit one told in terms of its consequences. It's a brilliant conceit, and though it's sometimes drowned out by the din of various axes being ground ("It''s 68 degrees [in Washington]on January 28 and the White House still claims that global warming isn't a problem?"), the story is crowded with terrific double crosses, defections and deceptions. They're icing, though: Clarke's dramatic micro explanations of how things "really" work;from a hand who served Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and both Bushes;are the true story. This is the first novel to shift all the way from Clancy's Cold War to the present war on terror.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In the Reagan administration, Clarke was the deputy assistant to the secretary of state for intelligence and served as the assistant secretary of state for politico-military affairs in the first Bush administration. He served for eight years as a special assistant to President Clinton and served as national coordinator of security and counter-terrorism for Clinton and for President George W. Bush. With that experience and probably counting on name recognition, Clarke has written his first novel, a geopolitical tale set five years into the future. It deals with a coup that overthrows a number of Saudi Arabian sheiks, the frantic need to procure oil, and the threat of nuclear war by both the U.S and countries in the Middle East. The large cast of characters includes members of British intelligence, the U.S. National Security Agency, the Secret Service, Navy SEALs, and Iranian Revolutionary Guards--an equal number of good guys and bad guys. With a large print-run planned, the publisher is expecting big sales; and librarians can expect high demand. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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The best part of the story is the realness of the players within the U.S. government. The President and Secretary of Defense are a formidable team and in some ways like the former one. I wonder if that was done deliberately. Together with their political allies, they move the U.S. to war and occupation of Islamia, which used to be called Saudi Arabia.
But other important and more minor players on the American and British sides have connected the dots and put themselves at great risk to defeat the U.S. government's goal to start another war. In the background are subplots involving espionage and technical descriptions of weapon systems that actually get used. This is a very dangerous time.
There are certain lessons from this highly entertaining and believable tale. One is that we better start finding alternative energy sources right away. Another is that we remain too vulnerable to being dragged into a losing war by a sitting president and his/her allies in government and banking.
Clarke has a way of getting us to see the world energy crisis from the perspectives of all the players. This is truly an entertaining way to discover how others throughout the world are likely to react in such a crisis. One thing that bothered me was the total abdication by the media of the role as fourth estate to protect the democracy.
I would certainly read/listen to any other books presented by Richard Clarke.
The scenario is that it is 2010, and the Royal House of Saud has been toppled in a coup d'etat, and the former Saudi Arabia has been transformed into the fundamentalist, wahhabist Nation of Islamyah - the first foundation stone in building a Shia Caliphate that will eventually encompass the entire Muslim world. The plot of this book seems to be Clarke's worst nightmare of what would happen if the policies of the Neocon ideologues that Clarke railed against in "Against All Enemies" were to continue un-checked and un-abated. The Middle East becomes a fascinating chess board - with pieces being moved around the board in complex gambits by the Americans, Chinese, British, Iranians, Kuwaitis, Saudis. The action centers on complex plots and attempts to de-stabilize the region by attacking Bahrain and U.S. assets stationed there. Told in the style of Le Carre and Ludlum, the story is one that held my interest throughout the 300 pages. Clarke's deep knowledge of internecine intrigue and power struggles - both petty and global in scale - inform the characters in this novel and set up the tensions that drive the storyline. I often found myself musing: "So, this is the way it really works behind the scenes!"
Former U.S. Senator, Gary Hart, made these comments about Clarke's novel:
"On his book's jacket, the author says: `Fiction can often tell the truth better than nonfiction. And there is a lot of truth that needs to be told.' As co-chair of the U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century, I am often asked what caused us to predict terrorist attacks on the United States months before Sept. 11, 2001. More than any other factor, Clarke's chilling briefings of our commission persuaded us. Perhaps he is trying to persuade us of a truth yet again."
Clearly, Clarke's purposes in writing this book are both didactic and polemical. As a result, some of the dialogue can be wooden and contrived, and some of the characters seem to be stalking horses to put forward and give voice to Clarke's pet peeves and theories. That having been said, I enjoyed the book very much, and found it to be both instructive and enjoyable. It comes with my strong recommendation.
I'm reviewing the AUDIO EDITION, "NOT" the book! So any short comings in writing style may have been over come by an excellent reading. Yes, there are both technical and writing errors but hell Clancy isn't the living in the real world either. Character development is weak but it's Mr. Clarke's ideas that are the heart of this book.
This is truly a well thought out scenario!
Although Clarke seems to show his age by drawing on the Cuban Missile Crisis as a model for his crisis. Most readers will only see comparisons to current events.
My only complaint is it seems a little to "BEST CASE"!
It's unrealist in that there is "NO REAL COST" to the "USA" or it's Allies for the "incompetency" of their actions. But than again maybe not!
One other point, Mr. Clarke has worked in those "secret rooms"
not just been given the "red light" "special tour".
This should be read by all players ("principles") inside the beltway.
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i have had a chance now to read many of his works. they are all fascinating and full of data.Read more