“2034,” a Cautionary Tale of Conflict with China

American naval vessels routinely patrol the South China Sea. It is a shared maritime house, however China claims a lot of the realm as its personal. That a lot is true. What if one of the ships was torpedoed? The retired admiral James Stavridis teamed up with Elliot Ackerman, a journalist and former marine, to write down about how, within the shadow of an more and more tense relationship between the U.S. and China, such an incident may spiral into disaster. The result’s “2034: A Novel of the Next World War.” The guide is a thriller and likewise a cautionary story; Stavridis cites Nevil Shute’s post-apocalyptic novel “On the Beach” as an inspiration. The writers inform Evan Osnos that they intend to ship in fiction an ingredient that’s lacking in army planning: “We have plenty of intelligence, we have plenty of hardware,” Ackerman notes, however “what we often lack is imagination.”

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