On March 12, 2034, US Navy Commodore Sarah Hunt is on the bridge of her flagship, the guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones, conducting a routine freedom of navigation patrol in the South China Sea when her ship detects an unflagged trawler in clear distress, smoke billowing from its bridge. On that same day, US Marine aviator Major Chris “Wedge” Mitchell is flying an F35E Lightning over the Strait of Hormuz, testing a new stealth technology as he flirts with Iranian airspace. By the end of that day, Wedge will be an Iranian prisoner, and Sarah Hunt’s destroyer will lie at the bottom of the sea, sunk by the Chinese Navy. Iran and China have clearly coordinated their moves, which involve the use of powerful new forms of cyber weaponry that render US ships and planes defenseless. In a single day, America’s faith in its military’s strategic pre-eminence is in tatters. A new, terrifying era is at hand.
Oscar Wilde once wrote, “To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.” Disasters like Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and even the COVID pandemic, one could say, were failures of imagination – a failure to imagine what could happen and be prepared for it. Today we can’t dismiss any situation as out of the question, as we witness foreign interference in elections, a resurgence of xenophobia, and ransomware attacks on infrastructure.
“2034: A Novel of the Next World War” looks at the plausible and dire consequences of what could happen. Co-authors Elliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis ask the reader evocative questions about how America may conduct war in the future. The book compels us to consider what warning signs we should notice, and where we might find security threats.
Imagination is a national security imperative. As such, Ackerman and Stavridis have fired a warning shot for what could happen if current and future administrations do not anticipate future challenges.
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BIO: Elliot Ackerman
Elliot Ackerman is the author of several novels, most recently Red Dress In Black and White.
His books have been nominated for the National Book Award, the Andrew Carnegie Medal in both fiction and non-fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize among others. His writing often appears in Esquire, The New Yorker, and The New York Times where he is a contributing opinion writer, and his stories have been included in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Travel Writing. He is both a former White House Fellow and Marine, and served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. He divides his time between New York City and Washington, D.C.
BIO: Admiral James Stavridis
Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.) is chairman of the Board of Counselors of McLarty Global Associates, an international consulting firm, and an operating executive of the Carlyle Group, an international private equity firm.
He spent more than thirty years in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of four-star Admiral. He was the Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and previously commanded U.S. Southern Command, overseeing military operations in Latin America. At sea, he commanded a Navy destroyer, a destroyer squadron, and an aircraft carrier battle group in combat. He holds a Ph.D. from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he recently served five years as dean. He has published nine previous books and hundreds of articles and is a frequent national and international television commentator as well as a Bloomberg Opinion weekly columnist, and a monthly columnist for TIME Magazine.