July 23, 2021

2034: A Novel of the Next World War

2034: A Novel of the Next World War
Eliot Ackerman and James Stavridis


(July 23, 2021)

A retired admiral indulges in strange, sentimental daydreams of noble soldiers and perfidious policy-makers. All civilian officials are stupid, ineffectual, or treasonous. Every soldier and sailor is noble. This book is a recipe, and excuse, for the sort of coup that Trump attempted and for which his supporters still dream.

All speculations on future warfare rest on sand, but this one is often ridiculous. “They have better cyber!” is the problem, and that can be interesting: Tom Clancy did that in Debt Of Honor, his entertaining if implausible effort to imagine a second war between the US and Japan. Here, apparently, someone in China presses a button and nothing works: it neutralizes every communication system in three Aegis destroyers (and every US satellite) just like that. Everything else, too: the destroyers never get off a shot.

The US solution? Tear out the avionics in their fighter planes so everyone can use WW2 tech and fly by the seat of their pants.

Oh — and someone else, it turns out, has even better offensive cyber capability than the Chinese do.

This is an admiral’s book. The lowest-ranked individual with a speaking part is a single chief petty officer who is on hand — in the radio room, on the flight deck, in CIC. We never learn the name of the President. We never meet China’s civilian leaders. We contrive to break an Iranian brigadier general and make him a lieutenant commander in the Iranian Navy because establishing a new character would be too much work.