Master storyteller and bestselling author Steven Pressfield returns with a stunning, chillingly plausible near-future thriller about the rise of a privately financed and global military industrial complex.
The year is 2032. The third Iran-Iraq war is over; the 11/11 dirty bomb attack on the port of Long Beach, California is receding into memory; Saudi Arabia has recently quelled a coup; Russians and Turks are clashing in the Caspian Basin; Iranian armored units, supported by the satellite and drone power of their Chinese allies, have emerged from their enclaves in Tehran and are sweeping south attempting to recapture the resource rich territory stolen from them, in their view, by Lukoil, BP, and ExxonMobil and their privately-funded armies.
Everywhere, military force is for hire. Oil companies, multi-national corporations and banks employ powerful, cutting-edge mercenary armies to control global chaos and protect their riches. Even nation states enlist mercenary forces to suppress internal insurrections, hunt terrorists, and do the black bag jobs necessary to maintain the new New World Order.
Force Insertion is the world's merc monopoly. Its leader is the disgraced former United States Marine General James Salter, stripped of his command by the president for nuclear saber-rattling with the Chinese and banished to the Far East. A grandmaster military and political strategist, Salter plans to take vengeance on those responsible for his exile and then come home...as Commander in Chief. The only man who can stop him is Gilbert "Gent" Gentilhomme, Salter's most loyal foot soldier, who launches a desperate mission to take out his mentor and save the United States from self destruction.
Infused with a staggering breadth of research in military tactics and steeped in the timeless themes of the honor and valor of men at war that distinguish all of Pressfield’s fiction, The Profession is that rare novel that informs and challenges the reader almost as much as it entertains.
Set in 2032, Pressfield's entertaining, thought-provoking thriller looks at an America past its apogee of moral power as it continues to face opponents whose barbarism threatens to make civilized conduct impossible. Old soldier James Salter, a Marine general fired because he dared to stand up for the people of a failed African state against the wishes of U.S. diplomats, refuses to fade away. Instead, Salter becomes the field commander of Force Insertion, a mercenary outfit that makes Blackwater look like mall rent-a-cops. Based in the Middle East, Salter wields the world's ninth largest (and perhaps best trained) army and the fifth largest economy. The old power structure maneuvers to neutralize Salter, but the American people and his own troops "think it's about time we had an American commander who wasn't afraid to kick the world in the ass." Evoking Roman history, in particular the friction between republic and empire, Pressfield (Gates of Fire) draws uncomfortable conclusions about the United States' current plight.
Crossing the Rubicon
This book is as old as the Roman Republic and as new as tomorrow's Science Fiction. It's set in about a decade or two from now, in a genuinely plausible world where major corporations can unite to wield as much power as a nation-state.
Nature abhors a vacuum, it is said, and the author in this book explores what happens when countries become weak and indecisive.
It starts slowly, but by the middle it's hard to put down. If you enjoy modern action/military books, or enjoy finding historic themes in current day situations, you are likely to enjoy this one. It is told from the position of a soldier caught up in this world, living life for his brother soldiers, but inexorably more and more faced with the effect their acts are having on the international community, and to what extent he and they bear a moral burden for the consequences of those actions.
It was a great read, breezed through it in a few days. The only problem I had is that at times he seemed to be advertising for products like Red Bull or Rolling Rock.
Taking on the future
Because of historical fiction, Pressfield became one of my favorite authors. I was not sure at first how that would translate into a future setting. I should not have worried. The story is excellent on it's own, but then it weaves in echoes of empires past and lessons not thoroughly learned. This was a one night read for me because I could not put it down. Written in first person, Pressfield has a way of making you the unknown watcher in the room without going overboard. If you like his past works, I highly recommend this one and I wait impatiently for the next.