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The Art of War by Stephen Coonts
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
St. Martin's Press Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250041999
Date: 02 February 2016 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

China is concerned about its future, and sees the United States as an obstacle. In The Art of War, by Stephen Coonts, China's intentions are not honorable. Other smaller nations along the South China Sea want the same resources that China does. China wants to weaken the United States and uses great unethical methods to do it.

It is all about the fish. China and other countries bordering the South China Sea, depend on the fish from the Sea to feed their populations, and on the natural resources under the water to for power and heat. China, obviously the most powerful nation in the area, wants to overpower the other nations and use the natural resources for their own huge population. Unfortunately for China, the United States backs the other nations and helps to keep the bullying China in check.

China realizes that weakening the US military would help their case at home. Norfolk, Virginia is the home to the US's largest Naval Base, which is the home port for the almighty aircraft carriers that make the US able to project power across the globe. In addition, the shipyard that builds and modernizes the carriers is only a few miles away in the city of Newport News, VA. In their efforts to upset the US power structure, China arranges for the murders of the Director of the FBI, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the CIA, all in rapid succession. In addition, they plant a nuclear weapon in Norfolk Harbor and intend to detonate it at Christmastime when five of the Navy's ten aircraft carriers are in port.

I laud Stephen Coonts on the details in the plan the bad guys use to obtain the weapon and plant it in Norfolk undetected, but I will leave the details to the story.

Stephen Coonts' recurring character, retired Vice Admiral Jake Grafton, was the assistant CIA director and became the head of the CIA after the director was assassinated. Grafton and his go-to man Tommy Carmellini, also a CIA agent, attempt to figure out the person responsible for, and the reason for, the murders. The reader knows all the details, but Grafton and Carmellini do not. The presence of the nuclear bomb is completely unknown to the US and how Grafton and Carmellini discover it is great reading, but again, I will also leave the details to the story.

Being former-Navy and living in the Norfolk Area, I had a great time reading The Art of War. I understand the importance of the aircraft carriers and the Naval Base and Stephen Coonts did a very good job of capturing it in his writing. I paid attention to all the geographic details, and I found a few small errors, but I have lived here for 30 years, so Coonts did very well.

I love Stephen Coonts’ books and I have read many in the Jake Grafton and Tommy Carmellini series. I loved The Art of War too, and I can't wait to read the next book in this series.

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