THE PROFESSION by Steven Pressfield


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This military thriller, which begins in 2032, concerns “Gent” Gentilhomme, a mercenary whose honor and bravery are severely tested.

America contracts its overseas combat to Force Insertion, the “military-contracting superfirm” run by James Salter, an ex-General who has the love and loyalty of men like Gent. A conventional military still operates America’s aircraft, drones and satellites, but “the dirt belongs to the mercs.” At issue—aside from oil—are the mutual respect and growing conflict between Salter and Gent as their diverging values become evident. Is there an “intersection of Necessity and Free Will,” as Salter believes? Is there a line a mercenary cannot cross, as Gent believes? Can America’s democracy continue to exist without gasoline costing $40 per gallon? These are fundamental questions in this dystopian thriller. Though a mercenary, Gent is a loyal American who wants to do right by his country. Powerful interests take exception to his actions, so he faces towering and mortal odds. Meanwhile, the men are tough and the women, including Gent’s journalist wife, are sexy and tough. She has her own agenda, which is to write a story about Force Insertion with or without Gent’s help. It’s a recipe for marital strain. Pressfield’s impressive research shows throughout this novel, whether in describing weapons systems and military transports or in placing the reader inside Dubai’s 2,800-foot-tall Burj Khalifa. References to consolidated news firms such as Trump/CNN convey a sense of the not-too-distant future.

A book that paints an all-too-plausible future in which America outsources its dirtiest jobs. Let’s hope Pressfield’s research tools didn’t include a crystal ball.

Pub Date: June 14th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-385-52873-3
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2011


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