The Scorpion's Gate

Richard A. Clarke, Author . Putnam $24.95 (305p) ISBN 978-0-399-15294-8

It's 2010, and the newly established Republic of Islamyah—the former Saudi Arabia—is trying to destabilize Bahrain: the Diplomat Hotel has been bombed, and, as the first chapter of this intense debut thriller closes, the Crowne Plaza is "pancaking." Meanwhile, the deposed House of Saud is holed up in Houston; the Chinese are providing arms and training to Islamyah; the Iranians have the bomb. Secretary of Defense Henry Conrad thinks the time is ripe to invade Islamyah and seize its oil, for which the U.S. is locked in deadly competition with China. Cooler heads in the U.S. (and British) hierarchies are very, very alarmed. Sound familiar? Clarke's Against All Enemies delivered an apostate critique of the Bush administration's counterterrorism efforts, along with a vision of the future very much like today. The writing's nothing special; what is special is Clarke's passionate and deftly detailed version of the present, albeit one told in terms of its consequences. It's a brilliant conceit, and though it's sometimes drowned out by the din of various axes being ground ("It''s 68 degrees [in Washington]on January 28 and the White House still claims that global warming isn't a problem?"), the story is crowded with terrific double crosses, defections and deceptions. They're icing, though: Clarke's dramatic micro explanations of how things "really" work—from a hand who served Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and both Bushes—are the true story. This is the first novel to shift all the way from Clancy's Cold War to the present war on terror. Agent, Len Sherman. 350,000 first printing. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/01/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-14-305797-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 323 pages - 978-0-425-21298-1
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Hardcover - 350 pages - 978-1-58547-702-9
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