So That’s It!

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Is there a more important question than this: “What is love?” It’s even the title of a popular song (Haddaway – 1993). Is love wile ecstasy – or flannel pajamas?

I think that for most of us, we’d pick the first answer. But then we’d think about it some more and wonder if that’s all there is to a relationship.

I just finished a great book, A Book About Love, by Jonah Lehrer. I decided to get the book – as I did for so many other books I’ve enjoyed – based on book review by David Brooks.

Here’s part of what David said in his review last month:

For Jonah Lehrer, true love is not usually like this. In “A Book About Love” he argues that this wild first ecstasy feels true but is almost nothing. It’s just an infatuation, a chemical fiction that will fade with time. For Lehrer, love is more flannel pajamas than sexy lingerie; it is a steady attachment, not a divine fire. For Lehrer, attachment theory is the model that explains all kinds of love.

He also sees marriage through the prism of attachment. Marriage itself, Lehrer argues, is not about finding a soul mate, or your mystical other half. It’s not even about finding someone like yourself. As he writes, “A 2010 study of 23,000 married couples found that the similarity of spouses accounted for less than 0.5 percent of spousal satisfaction.” It’s about finding someone with steady emotional tendencies and then being stubborn in the face of the nagging incompatibilities that will be there at the beginning and will never go away.

The book’s out there in most libraries. I’m all-but-certain you’ll enjoy it!

You can read the full review here

Life Imitates Art

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With great reviews and strong advance sales, our next Op-Center book, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Scorched Earth is poised to live up to the expectations of our readers. The bar is high, since our first two books of the rebooted Clancy Op-Center series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes and Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire lived up to our expectations both were on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly best-seller lists. Here is just a taste of the forthcoming book ahead of its August 2 release date:

Few would argue against the statement that ISIS (or ISIL—the preferred term used by U.S. national security officials—the “L” standing for Levant,) presents a profound threat to the West. As President Obama said in widely-watched speech in September 2014, “Our objective is clear:  We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.”

 Almost two years later, U.S. national security officials remain perplexed as to how to deal with ISIS. No one is talking today, in 2016, about defeating ISIS, only containing them. What is happening in the greater Mideast in areas where ISIS roams freely will not resolve itself in the next several years. For Western nations, and especially for the United States, today’s headlines are looming as tomorrow’s nightmare.

ISIS will remain a threat to the West—and especially to the United States—years into the future because America has not come to grips with how to deal with this threat. As Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger describe in their best-selling book, ISIS: The State of Terror, and as Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan describe in their best-seller ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, the very nature of ISIS makes attempts to deal with it by employing the conventional instruments of national power all-but futile. Here is how Michiko Kakutani framed the challenge ISIS presents in a Books of the Times review of these two books:

The Islamic State and its atrocities—beheadings, mass executions, the enslavement of women and children, and the destruction of cultural antiquities—are in the headlines every day now. The terror group not only continues to roll through the Middle East, expanding from Iraq and Syria into Libya and Yemen, but has also gained dangerous new affiliates in Egypt and Nigeria and continues to recruit foreign fighters through its sophisticated use of social media. Given the ascendance of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), it’s startling to recall that in January 2014, President Obama referred to it as a “J.V. team,” suggesting that it did not pose anywhere near the sort of threat that Al Qaeda did.

In Scorched Earth, life will imitate art for years to come. We’re certain the challenge ISIS presents today will remain fresh and relevant for years. Indeed, the issues driving what makes the greater Levant the center of enormous strife today guarantee it will remain this way in the near- to mid-future. Simply put, from our point of view, as well as that of political officials, military leaders, historians and many others, the Mideast will remain a petri dish spawning and regenerating cancers like ISIS for years to come.

It took President Obama only eight months to elevate ISIS from “a J.V. team,” to an organization that the United States was committed to, “degrade, and ultimately destroy.” And since the normal instruments of national power the United States can bring to bear cannot begin to degrade—let alone destroy—ISIS, this president, as well as future presidents, will have only one card to play. The president will need to call on the National Crisis Management Center, more commonly known as Op-Center, to protect American lives and freedoms.

Our future blog posts on Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Scorched Earth will reveal more of what went into plotting this book.

Read more about our New York Times best-sellers, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes and Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire (Now available in mass market paperback, digital and audio editions) here.

Life Imitates Art

Scorched Earth_Cover

Our first two books of the rebooted Clancy Op-Center series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes and Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire lived up to our expectations – as well as those of our publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and both were on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly best-seller lists.

Our next book in the series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Scorched Earth will be released in trade paperback on August 2. The first review of an advance copy of the book came from Publisher’s Weekly:

TOM CLANCY’S OP-CENTER: Scorched Earth, George Galdorisi (Griffin): Galdorisi successfully goes solo in the suspenseful third entry in the Tom Clancy’s Op-Center reboot (after 2015’s Into the Fire, with Dick Couch). When the leader of ISIL, Mabab al-Dosari, beheads the American president’s envoy in Iraq, the U.S. launches an air strike that leaves the terrorist’s only son dead. Vowing revenge, al-Dosari recruits a homegrown terrorist cell to kidnap the man who orchestrated the attack, Rear Adm. Jay Bruner. When the FBI bungles Bruner’s retrieval, the National Crisis Management Center—Op-Center’s official name—steps up. Meanwhile, the admiral’s Navy SEAL son, Lt. Dale Bruner, attempts to extract his father on his own and lands in the clutches of ISIL. An Op-Center book is always a master class in military acronyms and hardware, and the ever-expanding cast fights to keep the reader’s attention through the abbreviations. Still, the simple hostage situations keep the tension cranked high and will satisfy Clancy fans old and new.

Our future blog posts on Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Scorched Earth will reveal a bit more of what went into plotting this book.

Read more about our New York Times best-sellers, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes and Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire (Now available in mass market paperback, digital and audio editions) here.

The Asian Caldron

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In his best-selling book, Asia’s Cauldron, Robert Kaplan does a deep-dive into the factors that make this region a flash-point for superpower conflict.

We set the second book of our Op-Center series firmly in Asia. Superpower confrontation was the high-concept. 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 our New York Times best-seller, 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

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We rolled the dice! When we came up with the high-concept for the first book of the rebooted Tom Clancy Op-Center series in 2011, the United States had committed to a national strategy of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region. The plan was to have the Middle East be “yesterday’s news.”

 

We thought differently. We decided to center this new book on the Middle East, because we will be there for the foreseeable future. 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.

 

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 our New York Times best-seller 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.

The North Korea Challenge

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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 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

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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 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: