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

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 shoot.

This week, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire was released for the first time as a mass market paperback. Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes is already out as a mass market paperback. We expect demand for both books to continue to be strong. Why? Because the kind churn in today’s world says we still need heroes – heroes like those serving in our military and other government services who go “downrange” to protect the freedoms we hold so dear. Here is how we put it in the Dedication to Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes:

Decades ago, Winston Churchill famously said, “We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.”  More contemporaneously, in the 1992 film, A Few Good Men, in the courtroom dialogue, Colonel Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson) responds to an aggressive interrogation by Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) with, “We live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns…Because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.”

This book is dedicated to the selfless men and women – in and out of the military – who toil and sacrifice in obscurity so we may sleep safely at night.  They receive no medals or public recognition, and few know of their risks, dedication, and contributions to our security.  They endure lengthy – and repeated – deployments away from their families.  Yet they stand guard “on the wall” for all of us, silently, professionally, and with no acclaim.

And we’re happy out professional colleagues who are best-selling writers of military thrillers are high on these books. Here is what Jeff Edwards, bestselling author of The Seventh Angel and Sword of Shiva, had to say:

Op-Center is back with a vengeance!  OUT OF THE ASHES isn’t just a reboot of the Op-Center series; it’s one of the best techno-thrillers to hit the shelves in a long time.  Dick Couch and George Galdorisi have just raised the bar for military adventure fiction.  Suit up, strap in, and hang on, because you’re in for one hell of a ride.

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

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

Tom Clancy and the Future

Tom Clancy

Few writers have been so universally recognized as being prescient about the future than Tom Clancy. Even years after his untimely death in 2013, fans and observers all over the world still marvel at his ability to see more clearly into the future than most of us could ever hope to. He had a knack.

Tom Clancy’s complex, adrenaline-fueled military novels spawned a new genre of thrillers and made him one of the world’s best-known and best-selling authors. When Clancy died in October 2013, one of the most celebrated authors of our generation no longer walked among us.

Many people had – and continue to have – diverse options about Tom Clancy. However, most agree, above all else, he was prescient about the future of geopolitics, intelligence, military operations and emerging technology and weaponry. In his own words:

I hang my hat on getting as many things right as I can. I’ve made up stuff that’s turned out to be real — that’s the spooky part.

Tom Clancy also left a gift for aspiring writers with words that are as important today as when he said them years ago He said none of his success came easily, and he would remind aspiring writers of that when he spoke to them:

I tell them you learn to write the same way you learn to play golf. You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn’t divinely inspired — it’s hard work.

Op-Center: Back with a Vengeance

Out of the Ashes

When St. Martin’s Press decided to reboot Tom Clancy’s Op-Center series, we were all eager to see what these key reviewers thought of the first new book out the chute: Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes. Here is what Booklist’s Jeff Ayers had to say:

“Tom Clancy’s Op-Center books (12 in all) were popular, but the series ended after the last one was published in 2005. Now, almost 10 years later, St. Martin’s has resurrected Op-Center with this offering from coauthors Couch and Galdorisi. A series of terrorist attacks at NFL stadiums during games causes havoc, and the president’s response does little to restore confidence. He realizes the time has come to reestablish the Op-Center, a group known for its unmatched SWAT, computer, and infiltration skills. The recruitment process takes up the beginning third of the novel and proves surprisingly compelling. Once the team is up and running, the operation to strike back at the terrorists begins. Couch and Galdorisi are veteran military-thriller authors, and they show their talents here. Op-Center fans will be pleased to have the series back and will look forward to more installments in the future.”

And what pleased us even more, were the comments some of the best known military fiction writers had to say about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes.

From New York Times best-selling writer Larry Bond:

“The U.S intelligence agencies have spent billions since 9/11 learning how to “connect the dots.” But what if there are only one or two dots? Out of the Ashes is a smoothly written story by two authors who understand the inner workings of U.S. intelligence, government, and the military, and tell a frightening and exciting tale about a very new, but also a very old, threat.”

From New York Times best-selling writer Stephen Coonts:

“Thriller addicts like me devoured every Tom Clancy’s Op-Center tale.  Now they are back, intricately plotted, with wonderfully evil villains and enough realistic military action and suspense to ruin a couple of night’s sleep.  Highly recommended.”

Read more about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes (available in trade paperback and mass market paperback) 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 also received positive reviews. Here is what Booklist had to say about the book:

“Op-Center runs outside government channels, keeping tabs on potential threats to the U.S. beyond the purview of the conventional agencies. A North Korean general and his family are killed in an apparent robbery, but, in fact, it is the first step in a developing coup. Then a U.S. naval vessel, the USS Milwaukee, is engaged in exercises near the South Korean border when the ship’s commander is accused of violating North Korean territory, and the boat is attacked. The Op-Center team initiates a rescue of the survivors, but the mission requires that the group sneak in, make sure the Milwaukee is scuttled before the North Koreans grab it, and rescue the soldiers—all without starting a war. A secret treaty between North Korea and China involving a potential source for oil only makes the mission even more crucial. This is a top-notch military thriller, combining politics, suspense, and action. Couch and Galdorisi continue to make the Clancy brand shine.”

Read more about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire (available in trade paperback now and mass market paperback on May 3) and other books in the series here:

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

Are Book Reviewers Prescient?

Out of the Ashes

While the book publishing industry has undergone seismic changes over the last decade, one thing that hasn’t changed is the symbiotic relationship between the major publishing houses and the most well-known book reviewers: Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and Kirkus are among the most well-known and well-respected.

When our publisher – St. Martin’s Press – decided to reboot Tom Clancy’s Op-Center series, we were all eager to see what these key reviewers thought of the first new book out the chute: Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes, – and by extension – the new series.

Our overarching goal with the rebooted Op-Center series – beyond telling a story with a great plot, compelling characters, and plenty of action – was to continue the Clancy tradition of being prescient about the future of international relations, intelligence, the military and all the rest. And we hoped the initial reviews of our Op-Center books would be prescient about how well the series would sell.

We weren’t disappointed.  Here’s what Publisher’s Weekly had to say about Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes:

“Fans of the original Op-Center series created by Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik that ended with Jeff Rovin’s War of Eagles (2005) will welcome this solid continuation from Couch (SEAL Team One) and Galdorisi (Coronado Conspiracy). The original Op-Center, “an information clearinghouse with SWAT capabilities,” fell under the budget ax and was disbanded, but after a horrific series of bombings at four NFL stadiums, U.S. president Wyatt Midkiff decides to dust off the Op-Center file and bring the group back to life. Chase Williams, a retired four-star Navy admiral, agrees to head the new center and hunt down the terrorists responsible for the devastating attack. The trail takes the men and women of the revitalized agency into the Middle East, where they find a new plot aimed at the American homeland. This thriller procedural packs plenty of pulse-raising action. The open ending promises more to come.”

And Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes lived up to the advance billing, landing solidly on the New York Times, USA Today and other best-seller lists!

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

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