Continuing my survey of the most popular enemies facing the United States in thrillers, Russia was followed by two versions of conflict with China. The Act of War, published by best-selling author Brad Thor in 2014, postulates a covert attack by the Chinese. They intend to incapacitate the United States by a not clearly defined “electromagnetic” attack, which will disrupt all communications and control systems across the country. Then they will send in specially trained troops to take over agriculture and industry, justifying their invasion by claiming these assets as payment of the colossal U.S. debt to China. The premise may be a bit thin, but it makes for a lot of action along the way.
Alex Berenson’s The Ghost War came out with a more convincing scenario in 2008. He has a member of the Chinese leadership promoting brinkmanship, pushing for provocative acts against the U.S. as a method to acquire power for himself in China. In Berenson’s plot this Chinese general is a patriot who believes he can run the country better than its current leaders and improve the lives of the people. His game of international chess will produce the desired result, he thinks, because the U.S. will refuse to be drawn into a war. Considering recent news items concerning China, Berenson gets high marks for prophecy.
Whatever happened to the Jihadists who filled the pages of so many recent thrillers? Here’s a prediction of my own – between ISIS and the attacks in Paris and Brussels, they’re going to be taking over the thriller market again soon.