The Profession: A Thriller Hardcover – Jun 14 2011
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"Gripping. . . provocative. . . a thinking person's techno-thriller."-Wall Street Journal
"'The Profession' is a compelling mix of modern weaponry, modern communications, modern politics and the warrior's ancient ethos of honor and loyalty. It moves quickly and with deadly precision ... This is the modern world taken to its logical and frightening extreme." - Los Angeles Times
"Steven Pressfield, in "The Profession", has written a novel of the near future that is as good and in some cases better than anything Tom Clancy ever wrote in his day."
-Mark Whittington, Yahoo!
"Pressfield’s military thriller stands out from the crowd by speculating on what the next generation of warfare will be like and then dropping the reader right into the action. Clancy fans should give this a shot." -Booklist
"When I read a novel, I want to go someplace, with somebody who's been there. In THE PROFESSION, Pressfield takes us into the heart of combat—and even deeper than heat of the action: he takes us into the soul of the warrior. This is all the more remarkable because the world he leads us into hasn't happened yet—though we see its possibilities, its unfolding reality, all around us. To give us this book, Pressfield went to the places were soldiers and ideologies are colliding, and he sifted the thoughts, motives and skills of the men at the cutting edge of those conflicts. But best of all, for me, is that he seems to have looked into my heart too."
–Randall Wallace, screenwriter of the Academy Award winner Braveheart
“From owner-operated Apache gunships to The New York Google Times, THE PROFESSION is chilling because it rhymes just enough with today to make us wonder whether this future will be, or only might be. Pressfield's trademark lessons in honor and loyalty are here, woven into the classical tradition of the warrior's way. It's a ripping read.”
—Nathaniel Fick, author of the NYT bestseller ONE BULLET AWAY, and CEO of the Center for a New American Security
“Pressfield imagines a world in which private military forces have all the power…When the commander of the largest force around decides to take control of the United states, his top commando—Gilbert “Gent” Gentilhomme—opts to wipe out his commander. Pressfield dominates the military thriller genre, and his works are realistic enough that military colleges like West Point assign them." — Library Journal
"Pressfield's impressive research shows throughout this novel.... a book that paints an all-too-plausible future in which American outsources its dirtiest jobs."
About the Author
Steven Pressfield is the author of Gates of Fire, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Killing Rommel and The War of Art. His books are in the curriculum at West Point, Annapolis and the Naval War College, as well as being on the Commandant's Reading List for the Marine Corps. He has an international following for his online series, including 'It's the Tribes, Stupid,' and 'Writing Wednesdays.' He is a graduate of Duke University and lives in Los Angeles.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In the near-future, military responses to terrorism are increasingly waged by the rules (or lack thereof) of the local combatants, rather than the Western rules of war. Corporations ascend in influence and power as nation-states decline.
Unrest in the Middle East and other oil producing regions continues as the world powers position themselves to ensure continued resources.
Against this backdrop, Steven Pressfield tells the story of Gen. Salter, a military commander who falls from grace and becomes as a mercenary commander. The perspective for the story is that of a soldier who has long served under Gen. Salter, and is so close as to be considered a son of the General.
Because the story is told from the soldier's perspective, the thoughts and motivations of Gen. Salter are often hidden from the reader, and the reader is a witness to the events, a method Pressfield employed in the terrific "Gates of Fire."
This book is an interesting projection on where the world could go in the next 25 years in a global economy competing for dwindling resources and with traditional American concepts of life contrasting with the very different perspective and motives of those in other countries, particularly tribal cultures and developing countries.
At it heart, this book is a story about the recognition that the traditional American values are challenged by the changing times, economy, and exposure to other cultures.
I will say that I found the ending a bit choppy, but as you can see, it was not such a detraction that I lowered the rating I gave the book.
Pressfield, who has written a number of books on classical military history, tells his similarly classical story in the near future, but does so in the readable, interesting style that recalls his best books.
This is worth your read.
The overall plot involves a major conflict in the Middle East (where else?) which has the whole world trying to figure out exactly what and who is driving the conflict and bankrolling Force Insertion, which is the top mercenary business on the globe. A disgraced American general, James Sather, is running that show, and his overall goal isn't necessarily the same as the people and leaders who hired him. As the conflict escalates and unfolds, it becomes apparent that Sather's actions are designed to put him into a position of ultimate power, erasing nearly 300 years of checks and balances. The narrator of the story, Gent Gentilhomme, a soldier serving under the general, is the only person who is in a position to do something about it, and he's not entirely sure as to what the correct path should be.
From the perspective of the detail of the story, Pressfield is excellent. The writing is gritty and hard, and it matches the type of action I'd expect to see in a war story. It was as if I had been dropped into the middle of a conflict. The storyline didn't seem to have that same action and momentum, however. I was having a hard time trying to understand why things were happening and where the story was going. I didn't have the feeling that I had to keep turning pages to find out what would happen next. Even once the end game had played out, my general feeling was "meh"...
The Profession was an interesting read for imagining what war might be like in the future. But as a story, it lacked the spark that made it a compelling novel.
Obtained From: Amazon Vine Review Program
In the 2032 imagined by Steven Pressfield, private mercenary forces, primarily serving foreign governments and multinational petroleum companies, are all over the Middle East. Gilbert "Gent" Gentilhomme, who believes himself to be the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, works for Force Insertion, the largest of the private armies. Told in the first person from Gent's perspective, the story begins with furious action as Gent leads a team of mercenaries on a rescue mission. Gent's next mission (in Tajikistan) is assigned by the CEO of Force Insertion, James Salter, a former general and current narcissist who has an agenda beyond that of Force Insertion's customer base.
Cautionary tales can make compelling fiction (1984 is an enduring example); The Profession misses that mark. About a third of the way in, the action halts so that Pressfield can explain the rise of private armies. A longish chapter in the middle recounts Gent's African exploits while he was still a Marine and explains Salter's military downfall -- a Heart of Darkness diversion that contributes little to the plot and adds to character development in only a superficial way. This is followed by another longish chapter that relates the (future) history of the Middle East which, like the (past) history, has a lot to do with war, oil, and American and Saudi politics. All of this mood-deadening exposition acts as a drag on a story that depends on action to justify its billing as a thriller. As a warning of a possible future, these chapters could form the foundation of a great essay; they just don't integrate well into the novel.
The book becomes interesting when Salter decides to engage in a rather aggressive act of nation-building. Salter is a truly scary dude. He describes himself as a warrior who worships "the god of strife," a fighter who strides "into harm's way for no cause, no dream, no crusade, but only for the striding itself and for the comrades at my side." This is the kind of megalomaniac who starts wars solely because he likes war. Whether Salter's actions (and, more importantly, the reactions in the United States and the rest of the world) are plausible is questionable, but this is a work of fiction; I won't downgrade it for telling an unlikely story. I will, however, criticize Pressfield for creating characters who are stereotypes and for killing the novel's momentum in the middle chapters. I liked the beginning and the ending (it avoided the predictable finish that I was dreading) and I appreciated the story's cautionary value, but as a novel The Profession has serious problems. I would give The Profession 3 1/2 stars if Amazon made that option available.
I have to admit, compared to other Pressfield novels,this book took a bit longer for me to really get into. For the first several chapters, I was wondering where the book was going. The longer I read it the more engaging it became, though. As I rocketed along the roller coaster ride to the finale, I was sad to see the book end, and that's always a compliment to the author.
The book is a good read, and I'd categorize this tale as a definite "man-book." I'd recommend it to any guys who enjoy reading military fiction and to fans of Mr. Pressfield's other novels. Just be aware that this is going to be a different sort of tale than Mr. Pressfield's other novels.
The same goes for "The Profession." I don't normally read Tom Clancy or John LeCarre or even science fiction. Yet, in "The Profession," Pressfield takes us into the future, 2032. His protagonist, Gent, is a mercenary soldier in a world without armies, only mercenaries who take on the rabble armies of various exploding flash points of political and economic violence.
Gent travels from Africa, where atrocities are carried out, to the Middle East, where a man can love and feed his enemy before shooting him in the head.
The action is fast and furious, Pressfield connects with the world that may be by placing us in a world much too much like our own, especially in these weeks after our own strike force hit Osama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. It is almost prescient in its worldview.
This is an unsettling read of a future that could hit us and hit us hard.