Book Review: Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War by P.W. Singer & August Cole

If have read some of the old-school thrillers of the 80’s and 90’s like Red Storm Rising, Flight of the Old Dog, or Red Phoenix then you will love Ghost Fleet. This is essentially an update of the Cold War military thrillers and you will love it.

The main plot is that at some unspecified time in the near future (it is never explicitly stated) China pulls a Pearl Harbor in an attempt to create a 21st century Chinese version of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity sphere. The Chinese invade and take Hawaii and decimate the US Pacific Fleet through a combination of combat and cyber attacks on defense infrastructure as well as China seizing near-earth space.

The action in the book is mainly naval as befits a book that takes place in the Pacific Basin, which is the largest maritime theater in the world. The plot moves right along and the scary part is that all the action is eminently believable and even conceivable. In that way it very much reminds of Red Storm Rising, which was extremely plausible in the late 80’s when it came out.

The geopolitics depicted in the book is also plausible as America’s European ally desert the country and NATO dissolves in the face of European unwillingness to uphold their treaty commitments. Except for the Poles who come through towards the end of the book as most contemporary observers would expect them to do.
The book is timely given the widely held belief that there is another Great Power showdown in the works as China seeks to escape the mainland and make their presence felt as the world power they think they should be.

The tech in the book is so near term that it is believable and much is just logical extensions of current tech in the defense and civilian sector. One of the highlights of the book to me is how it highlights the dangers of outsourcing so much manufacturing to a potential enemy.
This is a great read and a great book that is not just worth reading for the entertainment value but that should be seen as a cautionary tale if some US policies don’t start to change and that right soon. An outstanding book.