The North Korea Challenge

into the fire

When our first re-booted Op-Center book, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes, made the New York Times and other best-seller lists, it put the bar high for the second book of the series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire. That book didn’t disappoint, and it recently made the New York Times best-seller list.

As we’ve talked about the book in various venues, people have asked us how the new Op-Center series both stays connected to – but is different from – the original 12 book Op-Center series written by Jeff Rovin. Our answer is this: The new Op-Center series reflects the sea change in the U.S. security posture since the original series ended around the turn of the century:

• Even 15 years removed, September 11, 2001 still drives U.S. security thinking
• The creation of the Director of National Intelligence and the NCTC
• The creation of the Department of Homeland Security
• The creation of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence
• The creation of U.S. Cyber Command as a full combatant commander in 2013
• The creation of Northern Command as a United States Combatant Commander
• The success of the television series “24”
• The success of the television series “Person of Interest”
• The fact that the United States has been at war for over a decade – and counting
• The issuance this year of the new U.S. Strategy, the National Security Strategy
• The major strategic shift involved in the U.S. “pivot to Asia”
• That said, the validated U.S. near-term strategic focus is still the Mideast
• The forces unleashed by the Arab Spring are causing more Mideast turmoil
• Today, the U.S. military is reviving the counterterrorism vs. counterinsurgency issue

Read more about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire (Now available in mass market paperback, digital and audio editions) and other books in the series here.

Life Imitates Art

out of the ashes

Now that both our Op-Center books have landed on the New York Times best-seller list, I find myself giving an increasing number of book talks.

Most readers want three things from a novel: Plot, characters and action. We think we delivered with Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes and Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire.

But beyond, plot, characters and action, people often ask: “What is this series about?” as well as “Well, what’s different about this series and the original Op-Center series (written by Jeff Rovin) that dominated best-seller lists from 1995 to 2005. Here is part of what we share regarding some overarching themes in the book:

• The notion of civilian control of the military is “unsettled” in America today
• There is tension between government, military and intelligence entities, and the people
• There is technology-enabled tension between counterterrorism efforts and civil liberties
• There are issues that are “too hot to handle” for DoD, DoS et al…hence OpCenter
• The United States is not a juggernaut, we have to be thoughtful how we apply power
• This novel series conveys “strategic foresight” i.e. predicting what will happen in future
• The key to what OpCenter takes on regards leveraging “anticipatory intelligence”
• Information is now a weapon…this is where network-centric warfare has evolved

Read more about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes (Now available in mass market paperback, digital and audio editions) and other books in the series here

Digital World

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Do we control our digital world, or does someone else. It seems that we have choices, but do we really?

I recently read I Hate the Internet. Whew. It really made me think about the subject of technology and our lives. And it’s a NOVEL.

If you don’t have time to read the entire book, I’ve posted a link to a New York Times review below.

In his new novel, “I Hate the Internet,” Jarett Kobek performs a similar maneuver on the viscera of the American psyche, at least as regards the so-called information highway. I can’t decide if, on his way down, Mr. Kobek is laughing or weeping.

Here is a key thought. One of the curious aspects of the 21st century was the great delusion amongst many people, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area, that freedom of speech and freedom of expression were best exercised on technology platforms owned by corporations dedicated to making as much money as possible.

Read more here

Asian Crisis

into the fire

When our first re-booted Op-Center book, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes, made the New York Times and other best-seller lists, it put the bar high for the second book of the series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire. That book didn’t disappoint, and it recently made the New York Times best-seller list.

Defense Media Network – one of the most respected international security websites – was prescient in predicting the book’s success. Here is just some of what its review of Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire had to say

Dick Couch and George Galdorisi have teamed up once again for the second book of the revived Op-Center series: Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire If anything, it’s better than the first book of the series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes. Without all of Out of the Ashes’ quite necessary exposition explaining Op-Center’s recreation and introducing a new cast of characters, Into the Fire is even more of a page-turner, able to concentrate completely on the crises at the heart of the story.

This time the primary villain is North Korea, with a plan to use its military forces to make economic gains in a pact with China. There is also a North Korean terrorist cell on U.S. soil that has to be dealt with. But as always, the deciding factor is the people. The ship’s captain, Cmdr. Kate Bigelow, is a smart, capable, and appealing new character, grappling with North Korean forces as well as a liability of an executive officer. As is true to form in the entire Clancy pantheon, the characters are a mixture of extremely capable, intelligent mavericks and a very few ambitious, obstructionist functionaries and rivals who stand in their way.

Read more about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire (Now available in mass market paperback, digital and audio editions) and other books in the series here:

How Do You Read?

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How do you read? What do you read? Most of us would have to think twice before answering that question. But Andrew Rhomberg wants to let publishers answer that question – in detail.

Andrew Rhomberg wants to be the Billy Beane of the book world. Mr. Beane used analytics to transform baseball, famously recounted in “Moneyball,” a book by Michael Lewis. Now Mr. Rhomberg wants to use data about people’s reading habits to radically reshape how publishers acquire, edit and market books. “We still know almost nothing about readers, especially in trade publishing,” said Mr. Rhomberg, the founder of Jellybooks, a reader analytics company based in London.

While e-books retailers like Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble can collect troves of data on their customers’ reading behavior, publishers and writers are still in the dark about what actually happens when readers pick up a book. Do most people devour it in a single sitting, or do half of readers give up after Chapter 2? Are women over 50 more likely to finish the book than young men? Which passages do they highlight, and which do they skip?

Mr. Rhomberg’s company is offering publishers the tantalizing prospect of peering over readers’ shoulders. Jellybooks tracks reading behavior the same way Netflix knows what shows you binge-watch and Spotify knows what songs you skip.

Read more about this “inside baseball” here:

Life Imitates Art

out of the ashes

When Dick Couch and I were asked to reboot the best-selling Tom Clancy Op-Center series, we wanted the first book to have a compelling geographic focus. We rolled the dice that the Middle East would remain in turmoil in the three years it took between our sharing our high concept for the book with our editor at St. Martin’s Press and the book’s release in 2014. Here’s why:

The Muslim East and the Christian West have been at war for over a millennium. They are at war today, and that is not likely to change in the near future. As Samuel Huffington would put it, the cultures will continue to clash. At times in the past, the war has been invasive, as in the eighth century, when the Moors moved north and west into Europe, and during the Crusades, when the Christian West invaded the Levant. Regional empires rose and fell through the Middle Ages, and while the Renaissance brought significant material and cultural advances to the Western world, plagues and corrupt monarchies did more to the detriment of both East and West than they were able to do to each other.

In time, as a century of war engulfed Europe and as those same nations embarked on more aggressive colonialism, the East-West struggle receded into the background. The nineteenth- century rise of nationalism and modern weapons technology in the West resulted in an almost universal hegemony, while the East remained locked in antiquity and internal struggle. The twentieth century and the developing thirst for oil were to change all that.

The seeds of today’s East-West conflict were sown when Western nations took it upon themselves to draw national boundaries in the Middle East after the First World War. The infamous Sykes-Picot agreement, which clumsily divided the Middle East into British and French spheres of influence, created weak-sister countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, all-but ensuring permanent turmoil. After the Second World War, Pan-Arab nationalism, the establishment of the state of Israel, the Suez crisis, the Lebanese civil war, and the Iranian revolution all drove tensions between East and West even higher. While the competition for oil and oil reserves remained a major stimulus, longstanding Muslim-Christian, East-West issues created a catalyst that never let tensions get too far below the surface. And then came 9/11.

The events of September 11, 2001 and the retaliatory invasions that followed redefined and codified this long-running conflict. For the first time in centuries, the East had struck at the West, and delivered a telling blow. Thus, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Yemen to North Africa and into Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and beyond, the struggle has now become world-wide, nasty, and unrelenting.

Surveys taken just after 9/11 showed that some 15 percent of the world’s over 1.5 billion Muslims supported the attack. It was about time we struck back against those arrogant infidels, they said. A significant percentage felt no sympathy for the Americans killed in the attack. Nearly all applauded the daring and audacity of the attackers. And many Arab youth wanted to be like those who had so boldly struck at the West.

As the world’s foremost authority on the region, Bernard Lewis, has put it, “the outcome of the struggle in the Middle East is still far from clear.” For this reason, we chose the Greater Levant as the epicenter of our story of Op-Center’s reemergence.

Read more about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes (Now available in mass market paperback, digital and audio editions) and other books in the series here:

Navy SEALs – A Split?

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By any measure, Navy SEALs have had an extraordinarily prominent role in our national security over the past decade, from their sacrifices in the field that resulted in several SEALs, Michael Murphy and Michael Monsoor receiving the Medal of Honor, to the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips held by Somali pirates, to the takedown of terrorist Osama bin Laden.

And much of this has been captured in the media, from prominent movies like Act of Valor and Captain Phillips, to a flurry of books like Chris Kyle’s American Sniper, to SEALs running for office. But now many Navy SEALs are questioning whether their fellow warriors should be “cashing in on the brand.”

In recent months, the Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif., which oversees the elite force, has told its men to lower their profile and tried to rein in public appearances by active-duty members. The Pentagon imposed a rule last September restricting the appearance of service members in video games, movies and television shows. Current and former members have widely circulated a pointed critique — titled “Navy SEALs Gone Wild: Publicity, Fame, and the Loss of the Quiet Professional” — that laments the commercialization and warns that it is doing harm.

“The raising of Navy SEALs to celebrity status through media exploitation and publicity stunts has corrupted the culture of the SEAL community by incentivizing narcissistic and profit-oriented behavior,” Lt. Forrest S. Crowell, a SEAL, wrote in the critique, his master’s thesis for the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Partisan politicking and public disclosure of tactics, he added, “erodes military effectiveness, damages national security, and undermines healthy civil-military relations.”

Read more about this issue – one that played out on the front page of the New York Times:

The World’s Crises Spots

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When our first re-booted Op-Center book, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes, made the New York Times and other best-seller lists, it put the bar high for the second book of the series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire. That book didn’t disappoint, and also-gained best-seller status right out of the chute.

This month, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire was released for the first time as a mass market paperback. Here’s what one reviewer had to say about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes:

The Op Center is on call again with the same core players as well as new and interesting additions in a plot embedded in real world possibilities. This time it’s the North Koreans with the Chinese forcing the political intrigue. The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is a major player. To all who wonder about the capabilities of this class, Galdorisi and Couch have done their research and given it to us down to the nuts and bolts. They let us experience shipboard operations and tactics under her female commander in an increasingly hostile environment.

The motivator this time…energy. It’s there for the taking beneath the ocean floor. The North Koreans want it and have concocted a hairball scheme to acquire it that could land all parties in hot war. The story convincingly lays out the plan and the players in a real world context, accurately reflecting the thought processes of an unstable egocentric and top heavy dictatorship. They give us detailed insight into enemy players, weapons and tactics on the shooter end.

The North Korean plan results in a running ship to ship gun battle culminating in an obscure and inaccessible maritime location. The LCS crew is literally out of the frying pan and into the fire with no help on the horizon. Now the fun begins, how to get the hard charging skipper and her crew out. The Op Center comes into the fray with a plan technologically and militarily accurate that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Operations are intricately detailed all along the change of command from the president to the warfighter on both side of the conflict.

From space orbit to undersea depths, Into the Fire will keep you turning the pages and accessing Google. Then, just when you think it’s all over, it hits the fan again in the Big Apple with a chase scene worthy of a twenty first century Bullitt. Into the Fire is an exciting and satisfying read well worth the price of admission.

Read more about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire (available now in mass market paperback, digital and audio editions) and other books in the series here:

http://www.georgegaldorisi.com/blog/books-blog

 

Op-Center: A Re-Booted Series

Out of the Ashes

Continuing in the Clancy tradition of being prescient about the future, we took on re-booting the Tom Clancy Op-Center series with an eye toward finding the world’s future crisis spots.

Here is what we wrote in the cover copy for the first book in the series: Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes:

Before 9/11 America was protected by a covert force known as the National Crisis Management Center. Commonly known as Op-Center, this silent, secret mantel guarded the American people and protected the country from enemies. The charter was top secret and Director Paul Hood reported directly to the president. Op-Center used undercover operatives with SWAT capabilities to diffuse crises around the world, and they were tops in their field. But after the World Trade Center disaster, in the interest of streamlining, OP-Center was disbanded—leaving the country in terrible danger.

But when terrorists detonate bombs in sports stadiums around the country leaving men, women and children dead or mutilated, the President executes an emergency order to bring back Op-Center—an Op-Center capable of dealing with the high tech crises of the 21st Century, and there is a lethal one brewing in the Middle East. A renegade Saudi Prince with ambitions of controlling the world’s oil supply has an ingenious plot to manipulate America into attacking Syria and launching a war against Iran. Next, they would ignite a sleeper cell to attack the America homeland, resulting in a bloodbath unlike any other. Only the men and women of Op-Center, using sophisticated technology, realize what is about to be unleashed. Only they have the courage to issue a warning no one wants to hear. But will anyone believe them?

Read more about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes (available in trade paperback, mass market paperback, digital and audio editions) and other books in the series here:

http://www.georgegaldorisi.com/blog/books-blog

Life Imitates Art

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Our first book in the rebooted Tom Clancy Op-Center series Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes lived up to the predictions Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus and others had, and made the New York Times and other best-seller lists. The second book of the series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire, just released in mass market paperback, has also received positive reviews. Here is what Publisher’s Weekly had to say about Into the Fire:

Couch and Galdorisi’s stirring sequel to 2014’s Out of the Ashes pits Cmdr. Kate Bigelow, captain of the USS Milwaukee, and her crew against North Korean naval and special forces units intent on seizing the ship, which has been conducting training exercises in the sea off South Korea. The North Koreans have found vast undersea energy deposits in international waters and have made a secret deal to sell them to the Chinese. Taking the ship hostage will give them leverage against the U.S., which will surely oppose this deal. Bigelow proves to be a formidable foe, managing to outrun and outgun her North Korean adversaries. She runs the Milwaukee aground on the small island of Kujido, sets up a defensive base, and settles in to wait for friendly forces to come to the rescue. Tasked with that mission is Chase Williams, director of the secret Op-Center, who with other elements of the U.S. military attempt to pull off a daring, skin-of-the-teeth operation. A terrorist attack on the United Nations provides an exciting coda.

Read more about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire (Now available in mass market paperback, digital and audio editions) and other books in the series here:

http://www.georgegaldorisi.com/blog/books-blog