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:

Practice!

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News flash: We’re all aging! While what’s below is aimed primarily at fellow baby-boomers, if you’re not quite in that cohort, give yourself some time. What to do about it? Here’s what Gerald Marzorati has to say about it in his above-the-fold, killer-good piece in a recent New York Times Sunday Review piece:

Sixty is not the new 40. Fifty isn’t either. Your lung capacity in late-middle age is in steady decline, as are the fast-twitch muscle fibers that provide power and speed. Your heart capacity has been ebbing for decades. Your sight has been getting worse, your other senses, too, and this, along with a gradually receding ability to integrate information you are absorbing and to then issue motor commands, means your balance is not what it used to be. (Your flattening arches aren’t helping.) Your prefrontal cortex — where the concentrating and deciding gets done — has been shrinking for some time, perhaps since you graduated from college. More of your career (more of your life) is behind you than in front of you. Do not kid yourself about this. You are milling in the anteroom of the aged.

You can have something done with those sags and creases deepening on the face that greets you in the mirror each morning, but I’m not sure whom you are fooling. You can do the crossword and mind puzzles, stretch, take long walks: There is evidence that these activities correlate with keeping memory loss and, you know, death at bay, for a while longer: two, four, six years. Maybe.

Let me suggest something that might do all of these things — which is to say, might not — but will, as nothing else will, provide you with a deeply satisfying sense of yourself that you did have when you were much, much younger. Find something — something new, something difficult — to immerse yourself in and improve at.

Read more of this absolutely on-point article here:

On Memorial Day, it’s important we remember those who put their lives on the line…

On Memorial Day, it’s important we remember those who put their lives on the line to underwrite the freedoms we hold so dear.

We will only have the last of our World War II veterans with us for a few more short years. This short video shares what it meant to one of these vets to have the privilege of fighting for his country.

Life Imitates Art

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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:

Whither the United States?

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In a recent post we talked about Black Swans that could completely change the world as we know it. These certainly bear watching. But there is another factor that could be the decisive factor in the international society evolving one way or the other. That factor sounds deceptively simple: It is the United States chooses to play in the world.

Much has been made in the last decade regarding “America’s decline.” And given the current Washington gridlock, to say nothing of the shrill predictions of some pundits, one would think the United States is about to become a third-world power. It has become a debate that, while poorly-informed, makes up for it in passion.

Beyond the shrill voices and often-unbridled passion, well-nuanced and informed studies have poured out of think tanks and elsewhere over the past several years offering prescriptions for ways the United States can and should remain the dominant world power. Other studies have predicted decline, some others have predicted ascendency, and others have left it to the reader. What most of these studies do agree on is that the world will no longer – and likely will never again be – a unipolar one the way it was immediately after the end of World War II or again decades later after the Soviet Union imploded. In both cases, the United States was the unipolar power.

Rather than “predict” the strength, or weakness, of the United States in the ensuing decades, Global Trends 2030 suggests that it is most important to focus on what role the United States chooses to play in the world years hence. And while other factors will certainly affect how this role is shaped, Global Trends 2030 makes the point that how the United States interacts with the rest of the world will be largely determined by choices this nation makes.

Read more here on the Defense Media Network website:

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:

Happy Life?

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Want to know the secrets of a happy life? Who doesn’t? Surveys show that most young adults believe that obtaining wealth and fame are keys to a happy life. Oh to be young and naïve again.

The evidence suggests otherwise a long-running study out of Harvard suggests that one of the most important predictors of whether you age well and live a long and happy life is not the amount of money you amass or notoriety you receive. A much more important barometer of long term health and well-being is the strength of your relationships with family, friends and spouses.

Through the years, the study has produced many notable findings. It showed, for example, that to age well physically, the single most important thing you could do was to avoid smoking. It discovered that aging liberals had longer and more active sex lives than conservatives. It found that alcohol was the primary cause of divorce among men in the study, and that alcohol abuse often preceded depression (rather than the other way around).

As the researchers looked at the factors throughout the years that strongly influenced health and well-being, they found that relationships with friends, and especially spouses, were a major one. The people in the strongest relationships were protected against chronic disease, mental illness and memory decline – even if those relationships had many ups and downs.

You can watch the TED talk or read the full article here:

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

 

The New World Maps

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The Washington Post recently ran an interesting interview with the author of a new global/future trends book that is probably worth your attention if you follow long-term geo-political-economic-environmental trends (especially the six maps of US, North America, and the World highlighted from the book).

The author of the new book Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization, argues that the arc of global history is undeniably bending toward integration. Instead of the boundaries that separate sovereign nations, the lines that we should put on our maps are the high-speed railways, broadband cables and shipping routes that connect us, he says. And instead of focusing on nation-states, he suggests we should focus on the dozens of mega-cities that house most of the world’s people and economic growth.

This is interesting food for thought in any case and comports with our earlier postings on the Director of National Intelligence’s Global Trends 2030.
Read the entire article here – and enjoy these thought-provoking maps:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/04/29/six-maps-that-will-make-you-rethink-the-world/?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_6-maps-950a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory