Life Imitates Art


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:



Earlier this month we posted a national security blog focused on Tectonic Shifts impacting the world in the decades ahead. Like mega-trends these shifts represent long-term trends that we can be reasonably sure will happen if forces already in motion continue on their current paths. These are the fundamental underpinnings regarding how the intelligence community – the IC – looks at the future, based on, to borrow a phrase from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “known-knowns.”

But what about, again borrowing from Rumsfeld, the “known-unknowns?” GT2030 has identified six potential “game-changers,” events that we cannot say will happen, but that could happen under certain sets of conditions.

Although these megatrends and tectonic shifts are expected to shape the world out to 2030, GT2030 acknowledges that these critical game-changers have the potential to largely determine “what kind of transformed world will be inhabited in 2030.” These game-changers are questions regarding:

  • The health of the international economy
  • Global governance
  • Conflict
  • Regional instability
  • Technological breakthroughs
  • The role of the United States

How important – and potentially impactful – are these potential game-changers? “Global Trends 2030” dedicates 70 pages of this 160-page report to them. This fact, in and of itself, tells us that they bear watching. This link to “Global Trends 2030” will enable you to look at these potential game-changers in detail.

Read more here on the Defense Media Network website:

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:

America’s New Map


At the international level, America’s diplomatic, intelligence and military agencies study trends in the international environment that will shape our world in the decades ahead. But at the national level, there are mega-trends that will shape America at least through mid-century. One need only look at a map – a new map of the United States to see that socially and economically, America is reorganizing itself around regional infrastructure lines and metropolitan clusters that ignore state and even national borders.

Advanced economies in Western Europe and Asia are reorienting themselves around robust urban clusters of advanced industry. America is already headed toward a metropolis-first arrangement. The states aren’t about to go away, but economically and socially, the country is drifting toward looser metropolitan and regional formations, anchored by the great cities and urban archipelagos that already lead global economic circuits.

The Northeastern megalopolis, stretching from Boston to Washington, contains more than 50 million people and represents 20 percent of America’s gross domestic product. Greater Los Angeles accounts for more than 10 percent of G.D.P. These city-states matter far more than most American states — and connectivity to these urban clusters determines Americans’ long-term economic viability far more than which state they reside in.

This reshuffling has profound economic consequences. America is increasingly divided not between red states and blue states, but between connected hubs and disconnected backwaters. You can see where this is all going – just look at a map.


Read the full article here


Chief Innovator


Many people are innovative. Some people drive innovation. Google’s Larry Page is one of them who is an icon for us all.

Larry Page is not a typical chief executive, and in many of the most visible ways, he is not a C.E.O. at all. Corporate leaders tend to spend a good deal of time talking at investor conferences or introducing new products on auditorium stages. Mr. Page, who is 42, has not been on an earnings call since 2013, and the best way to find him at Google I/O — an annual gathering where the company unveils new products — is to ignore the main stage and follow the scrum of fans and autograph seekers who mob him in the moments he steps outside closed doors.

Many former Google employees who have worked directly with Mr. Page said his managerial modus operandi was to take new technologies or product ideas and generalize them to as many areas as possible. Why can’t Google Now, Google’s predictive search tool, be used to predict everything about a person’s life? Why create a portal to shop for insurance when you can create a portal to shop for every product in the world?

You can read more here


Writing to Produce


It is a rare writer’s conference or symposium where a writer doesn’t get asked: “How many words do you write a day.” Most attendees are looking for a magic formula from writers of all ilk, seeking that path to publishing. But there is no pat answer. It’s different for all of us. But if there is one truth it is this: How much you write isn’t a reflection on how well you write.

Here is what one of today’s most successful and well-known writers, Stephen King, has to say about the subject.

No one in his or her right mind would argue that quantity guarantees quality, but to suggest that quantity never produces quality strikes me as snobbish, inane and demonstrably untrue.

It is easy to look at those few books, each of extraordinary quality, and conclude that the fewer the better. Perhaps: The recently retired Philip Roth wrote multiples more than the two of them combined, and “Our Gang” was pretty awful. But then, “American Pastoral” seems to me a much finer novel than either Ms. Tartt’s “The Goldfinch” or Mr. Franzen’s “Freedom.”

My thesis here is a modest one: that prolificacy is sometimes inevitable, and has its place. The accepted definition — “producing much fruit, or foliage, or many offspring” — has an optimistic ring, at least to my ear.

You can read more of this insightful article here:

The World’s Next Flashpoint

The South China Sea

If there is one place on earth where the ambitions of the United States and China collide, it is the South China Sea. This body of water all-but-dominates the news weekly, with China making increasingly aggressive claims to this crucial body of water. Is it any wonder that many think World War III could well start there. We wrote about this in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings. Here is part of what we shared:

Whether it is the intelligence community, the military, industry, or just individuals attempting to get some notion of what the future holds, extrapolating current trends to determine likely outcomes in years “downstream” is absolutely essential to stay one step ahead of any current – or future – adversaries.  This is the work of military and intelligence analysts and is more essential today than ever before.

Access and use of the global commons, particularly the sea and the air space, is a core element of U.S. military and commercial power. In times of war, control of the commons may be ensured by military means. In peacetime it is sought through international law and diplomacy and through limited military responses when the rules governing use of the commons are breached. In some cases, a peacetime incident may quickly result in a reaffirmation of traditional freedoms of the sea. In others, a more concerted effort, combining diplomacy with demonstration, is needed to return to adherence to international norms. This latter combination appears to be the case regarding China and the South China Sea. As noted recently by Patrick Cronin and Paul Giarra:

Chinese assertiveness over its region is growing as fast as China’s wealth and perceived power trajectory. Beijing’s unwelcome intent appears to give notice that China is opting out of the Global Commons.

Though not a new phenomenon, China’s increasingly assertive activities in the South China Sea are drawing concern that the country is seeking regional hegemony at the expense of its neighbors in Southeast Asia as well as the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

You can read this entire article here:

Kick the Bucket List


Ready to head out and check things off the bucket list you’ve been building for the decades of your working life? Not so fast!

For some, retirement is seen as a time to go globe-trotting or embark on life-changing adventures. But that may not always lead to lasting happiness.

For many seniors, the bucket list has become the ultimate celebration of aging. Healthier, heartier and richer than generations of retirees before them, they’re spending their golden years chasing once-in-a-lifetime adventures—sky diving from 13,000 feet, hiking the Great Wall of China, swimming with sharks or skiing the Andes.

For them, it’s the chance to do things they put off for years while working and caring for family, and to make the most of the moments they have remaining. What’s not to love about a life of dream vacations and big thrills? Unfortunately, quite a bit.

But in time, many finally see a bucket list as an antidote devoid of any enduring communion with family or friends. It doesn’t give us any roles as a guide or mentor that had been so satisfying earlier in life. We can feel like spectators to the lives and locales of others, collecting hundreds of photos that were destined to sit unseen in the myriad flash drives we bring home.

It may be time to kick the bucket list to the curb.

Read more here:

More Than the Internet


Legions of companies, CEOs, tech workers and even laypeople are looking for “the next big thing in technology. We spend time and considerable money at retreats, seminars and the like to try to find that new, new thing. For some, it is an obsession, for others an avocation, and for most of us, at least a curiosity. For me, I try to say plugged into what Adam Bosworth is doing.

If you have sent email on Google or used Microsoft’s browser or databases, you have touched the technology handiwork of Adam Bosworth. He has a penchant for being intimately involved in the creation of generations of widely used technology.

While it is never easy to predict what the next big thing will be, identifying what Mr. Bosworth is working on is always good for clues. Right now, along with competitors at companies like Amazon and Google, he is building what some call a “data singularity.”

Imagine if almost everything — streets, car bumpers, doors, hydroelectric dams — had a tiny sensor. That is already happening through so-called Internet-of-Things projects run by big companies like General Electric and IBM.

Think of it as one, enormous process in which machines gather information, learn and change based on what they learn – all in seconds.

Read more about the next big thing(s) here:

Herman Wouk at 100

Writing Techniques

Few of us can forget the novels Herman Wouk has written over his illustrious career. He celebrated his 100th birthday this year and reflected on his Bronx childhood and his writing career. Here is some of what he said in his Wall Street Journal interview.

It’s hard to put my finger on exactly when I wanted to be a writer. In the eighth grade, the school published a yearbook that included one of my short stories. It was a simple-minded story, but there it was. It was about a boy who filches fruit from the fruit stand and is asked to hand it out to the needy on Thanksgiving. During the handouts, one of the people in need turns out to be the fruit-stand man. In the end, the boy feels badly and pays for the fruit he pinched.

When I finished high school and went off to Columbia University, I didn’t think, “Well, now I will start being a writer.” Initially, I thought I wanted to be a psychologist. So I took organic chemistry, which turned out to be a big step toward becoming a writer. Chemistry, clearly, wasn’t for me. I gravitated to the college newspaper and then the “Jester,” the campus humor magazine. I had always been a writer.

If his journey doesn’t provide inspiration for your writing journey, nothing will. Read more here: