From two experienced British journalists, a step-by-step scenario describing the world’s brisk march toward self-destruction. Though subtitled a novel, it isn’t really, at least not in the accepted sense. No heroes, no villains, no psychological delving into character, no insights into the human condition, no sex, none of the stuff that has always made fiction so sturdy an escape vehicle. “Future history” is the way the authors describe what they’re about——an exercise in military and political prediction.” It all begins with China’s attack on North Vietnam on February 18, 2001. Ostensibly, the quarrel is over offshore oil in the South China Sea—the Vietnamese control it, the Chinese want it in order to be less dependent on untrustworthy sources. But Dragonstrike, as China dubs the operation, is far more complex than that. Dragonstrike shows China shedding its inferiority complex, flexing its superpower muscles, and unmasking its global aspirations. Dragonstrike’s real goal, then, is to force a confrontation with the US, driving the despised interloper first from the South China Sea and ultimately from Asia. The Chinese attack is a provocation that causes diverse and often opportunistic reaction in the international community. France sees geopolitical advantage in offering aid to Vietnam, its erstwhile enemy. Japan seizes its chance to become a nuclear power. When the US sends a ship to rescue a group of oil workers held hostage by China, the Chinese sink it. Air and sea battles rage as those nations with high-tech toys rush to employ them. At length, China and the US go one-on-one, facing each other’s threat of nuclear extinction—neither doubting that under certain circumstances the other would pull the trigger. In Hawksley and Hollerton’s scenario the world survives, but the authors leave behind a dismal epigraph from Plato: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Meticulous, persuasive, disheartening.