cover image The Profession

The Profession

Steven Pressfield. Crown, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-52873-3

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%E2%80%94and his own troops%E2%80%94"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. (June)