Brent Scowcroft Center Nonresident Senior Fellow August Cole cowrites for The Atlantic about his new novel Ghost Fleet and what a great power conflict would look like in the twenty-first century:
One of us first fought World War III from the backseat of a station wagon headed toward Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. For the other, it was at an island cabin on the Puget Sound waters of Washington state.
We wouldn’t meet for another couple decades, but like millions of other readers that summer of 1986, we were captivated by Tom Clancy’s book Red Storm Rising. We both recall being so enthralled by his exploration of what would happen if the Cold War ever turned hot that we stayed inside for the first few days of vacation to finish it.
It wasn’t just the plot or characters that defined the new techno-thriller genre that Clancy helped shape (which, at the time, the New York Times described as “at its best … the verbal equivalent of a high-tech videogame”). The war and tools employed in it were almost characters themselves. The plot hopped across oceans and continents, from one battle zone to the next, while revealing military tidbits and technical details along the way—from the towed sonar arrays used to hunt for Soviet submarines in the North Atlantic to the way in which drivers babied their Abrams tank engines before setting out to battle in the Fulda Gap of what was then West Germany