Saturday, September 5, 2009

Book Review: The Scorpion's Gate

Title The Scorpion's Gate
Author Richard A. Clarke
Rating ****
Tags thriller, intelligence, iran, saudi arabia, china, conflict 

A rather dizzying novel from Richard Clarke, who spent most of his adult life working in national security and intelligence, culminating in being the counterterrorism head for Clinton and the second Bush, until he resigned over the Iraq war.

So one reads this book with an understanding that this comes from someone who knows geopolitics all too well.

A coup has deposed the ibn Sauds in Saudi Arabia, and the country is now called Islamyah. Some involved in the coup had been Al-Quaeda operatives, and so the new government is highly distrusted by many, and the target of many who want to use Islamyah's weakness to their own advantage. U.S. intelligence analysts find out the Chinese are supplying missiles to Islamyah. Meanwhile, it seems the Iranians are up to something, but it isn't clear what. A trio consisting of one of the best U.S. intelligence analysts, an admiral in the U.S. navy, and a British intelligence agent are determined to find out who is doing what and prevent a multi-sided war from breaking out.

It is a thrill ride of a book, though it gets confusing sometimes as to who are the bad guys and who are the good guys, and that is part of Clarke's point... that in a complex world, it can be hard to tell, and that there are factions within governments that often work against each other.

One can also suspect that the irrationally hawkish parts of the fictional executive branch of the U.S. government express some of Clarke's animus to the Bush administration's war in Iraq. In fact one might see the novel as a wish-fulfillment fantasy of Clarke's, that a few dedicated people can stop an unjust war.

Overall, a surprisingly good novel from a man who has an amazing knowledge of the world and how it works... or doesn't work.

Publication Putnam Adult (2005), Edition: 1st ed/1st printing, Hardcover, 320 pages
Publication date 2005
ISBN 0399152946 / 9780399152948

Posted via web from reannon's posterous

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