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What happens when you get Muslim terrorists and add them to Mexican drug cartels? According to Tom Clancy, the result is Against All Enemies. Obviously you will also need some good guys to defeat the bad guys, so enter a new character, Max Moore. An ex-SEAL, CIA field officer.
This is a standalone book that begins introducing Moore on a mission to transfer a terrorist come informant between India and Pakistan. As is often the case to bring intrigue, the mission ultimately fails and we see some of Moore's skills come to light in trying to save his team. Moore is then drafted to work in Mexico as part of a multi agency group trying to bring down the largest drug cartels.
Unbeknownst to Moore and the other agents, Muslim terrorists have also been in contact with one of the Mexican drug cartels. The ultimate goal for the terrorists is not the drugs trade, they intend to use the cartel to get them into the United States by using their smuggling tunnels and once in there they want to destroy several airliners in flight to cause another massive attack.
I found that this book was difficult to get into, there is a lot of information on how drug cartels work and structured in the first half or so of the book, but I found this too much. I didn't really know what was going on and the characters were unclear and merging together causing confusion. There were quite a few characters that were being built up with background information and then killed off just as their story became interesting because they had no part to play in the grand scheme.
There were interesting glimpses into Moore's past, including his training to become a Navy SEAL, but it all seemed contrived, they didn't add to the story and the build up always seemed to fall flat. Lastly, the cartel and terrorist stories were not well interlinked. It was a clear divide with most of the story focussing on the cartel and then at the end, Clancy tacked on the terrorist story so that Moore could save the day and get redemption against America's current biggest enemy.
It is a shame that this book was this bad. There was good scope for an anti drug trafficking book, showing how US and Mexican forces deal with these drug cartels, alas it doesn't live up to what one would expect from Tom Clancy. Feel free to skip this book from his bibliography.
Writer(s) - Tom Clancy/Peter Telep
Genre - Thriller
Pages - 755
Amazon Price - £5.08 (kindle £4.99)
It's amazing how Syria is ticking every box Iraq did back in 2003 to earn their obliteration from America and the west yet the UN take no action to help the Syrian people under the barrage? A British base is certainly within 45 minutes range of Syria (ironically one that we built in Iraq) and Assad is certainly a dictator killing his own people and well documented that he has the most WMD in the region. But they have no oil or strategic interest to the west and so we let the slaughter continue, shamefully looking away as if it was just another third world African Republic tribal war.
One of the reasons Iraq and the War on Terror happened is because of prolific military spy thriller writers like Tom Clancy, painting a far more heroic picture of the American military machine and its political establishment. This guy is well connected and people begin to believe his fiction and we all know how fiction blurs with fact in America when it comes to finding evidence to start a war. Americans back their military 100%, however terrible their deeds. Only a fool now believes Iraq was about liberation, the original proposed name for the invasion of the oil rich country to be called 'Operation Iraq Liberation' (O.I.L), far more apt in hindsight. Did you know that the US military only let you use their real kit in movies (say an aircraft carrier) or military advisors to write book if you are pro military? There's no doubt Clancy would not have got the high level access he does if he didn't write bias and heroic propaganda.
After 911, Tom Clancy wrote just one book, The Teeth of the Tiger, a rather limp and reactionary War on Terror thriller that was there only to cash in on what just happened to America and keep alive his Jack Ryan character, the fictional hero that created his legacy of being the worlds most popular military spy thriller writer, Ryan played effectively in the movies by the aging Harrison Ford (and badly by Ben Affleck). Some say Clancy stopped writing after '911' because his 1990s books had already predicted everything that had happened in the actual lead up to the 'War on Terror' and so nothing more to say on the world of geo military politics, his specialty. Rather spookily in 1995 he penned 'Debt of Honor', part of the Jack Ryan series, set around a fictional terror attack on The Whitehouse and Capital Building by, you guessed it, suicide bombers flying jetliners into those iconic American buildings. Imagine that! In other books he predicted an assassination attempt on the Pope, the new Russian Republic conflicts in the Ukraine and Chechnya and the war in Iraq. He also created Rainbow Six, an elite and secretive Navy Seals Special Forces team based in Fort Bragg in America, similar to those who recently 'whacked' Bin Laden in Pakistan, the real guys going by the name of ST6 (Seal Team Six). Even 'Against All Odds' is topical, coming out months before the FBI uncovered a bizarre plot where a powerful Mexican drug cartel had allegedly formed alliance with Al Quaeda to plan attacks in America, the central theme of this book.
When you read Clancy books you can't help thinking of the youth on both sides on the War on Terror have also indulged in his exciting fiction, from redneck Middle America to the dusty back streets of Gaza. As unlikely as it sounds but did Al Qaeda simply read the books like any other testosterone fuelled guy at that impressionable age and think it would be rather poetic to hit America in the way their number one writer does? The terrorists picking September 11 to produce the US emergency code of 911 suggests some sort of thought in that cynical direction. Even more sinister here is did a shadowy black op CIA unit also model the 911 attacks on Clancy's books for more psychological reasons with some sort of deep cover black operation so to ignite the 'War on Terror' to produce massive budget increases for the spy agencies and military through wars in places like Afghanistan and Iraq so America can lash out to secure their thirsty oil needs, the so-called Industrial Military Complex. What's more likely is Osama's real target was the core macho male America ego that read Clancy's books and so the place to stir up the hate and patriotism to get the War on Terror going - the reaction of hate. To make things even stranger and profound for Clancy and conspiracy fans alike, his last book after that eight year gap, 'Dead or Alive', concentrated on Gaddafi and Libya and the hunting down and capture of a fictional Emir, Bin Laden in all but name. The timing of that book raised a few eyebrows, released when the CIA claimed to have located Bin Laden in that house in Pakistan, yours truly finishing it on May the 1st, the day of Bin Laden's capture and death. Clancy has an uncanny knack of getting his facts right through his fiction, a precognitive writer to say the least. Did Clancy pen that book last year because he, too, knew what was coming, a very well connected writer aware of Bin Laden's possible location through strong and connected rumors? The CIA clearly knew Osama was in that house for quite a while and his death the symbolic end for Americas War on Terror and so timely for Obama. I don't think the sitting US President has mentioned the phrase 'The War on Terror' once in his presidency, a very Republican policy.
Against All Enemies throws up a spinnaker on the Jack Ryan series and steers sharply away from Clancy's past characters as the author rounds the buoy towards retirement with a whole bunch of fresh characters, very much out with the old and in with the youthful new, the point of the book for me, Clancy creating what looks like the new Jack Ryan, a brooding ex Navy Seal called Max Moore. Clancy has had lots of co-writers on his books and projects in the last twenty years and I suspect Moore will be franchised out to his satellite writers that use the Clancy name in return for the hard research yards put in by them on his books. Yes, I know Clancy's latest book, Locked on, carry's on from Dead or Alive where Jack Ryan is thinking of running for the Presidency and his son is moving up in the covert intelligence world to be the new action hero but I still feel Max Moore is the guy who will transfer best to movies, the real goal for thriller writers these days, Clancy's books always film scripts in disguise.
The book begins with our new hero Maxwell Moore's back story being filled out; a man alone ex Navy Seal that made what he thinks was a fatal mistake during a mission in Iraq that cost lives to push his concious to leave the Navy Seals. He is now in the CIA and those days long passed, tasked to fighting the War on Terror elsewhere, specifically in Afghanistan, where he is pumping Taliban/Al-Qaeda contacts for intelligence on any future attacks on America, drones pinging in missiles haphazardly all over the place (as is the case in real life).
But most of the book is centered on a multi agency attempt to crack the Mexican drug cartels, a far bigger threat to modern America in crime and expenditure than terrorism ever will be. The plan is for Moore and his team to infiltrate one particular cartel so to bring down another so to stop their planned alliance with Taliban extremist, putting the controversial idea to a multi agency task force that will be needed to perfect the hardly legal infiltration. But when his best Taliban contact and friend is killed on the Pakistan border it comes to his attention that Islamic extremist plan to cross into America through one of many secret tunnels operated by the cartels, to smuggle drugs and people into America, and they are fully armed and ready for Jihad. It looks like the American intelligence services alongside the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and FBI have about two days to find the terrorists and they will need the help of a brutal drug cartel leader to achieve that, whether the Mexicans want to surrender information or not, all this as Moore remains haunted by his failure on that Nay Seals mission, redemption or failure the only options now.
As an enjoyable read, it wasn't. Its way too long and bloated at 750 pages for such a basic storyline and most of the weapons, tactics and geopolitical stuff Clancy was so clever on is just not there. It's like reading the script to the next Steven Seagal movie. This one is definitely more co-writer Peter Telep than Tom Clancy, Telep a New York Times best selling fiction in his own right. Fair enough there was talk of drug cartels joining forces with the Islamic terrorists in the news and so maybe a book there but you do feel that story in the news was more hype and propaganda than a likely outcome. Is this purely an exercise to create Maxwell Moore to make yet more Clancy stamped movies and X-Box games? How about writing a book about the fact that 23 of the last 24 terror plots on the US were all FBI stings and apart from the nut job who parked a car full of fireworks and gasoline in Manhattan there have been no attacks, which not only suggests there will be no terror suspects unless the US intelligence services create them and the War on Terror is indeed over or, even, never actually existed, all a ploy to get at Iraq's oil and sell American weapons to those surrounding nations made fragile by that outrageous invasion. I know Clancy is loyal to America and the flag but that would be some book and maybe a dose of that medicine and some of the real truth would calm America's testosterone youth that grow up with his books.