Book Review: Relentless, By Mark Greaney - A Darn Good Yarn - Politicrossing
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Book Review: Relentless, By Mark Greaney — A Darn Good Yarn

Book Review: Mark Greaney’s Relentless is a fantastic thriller, one all Tom Clancy fans will love. Go buy it!

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Back in 1984, an insurance salesman from Maryland published a book and invented a new genre, the techno-thriller. That salesman was Tom Clancy, and his book was called The Hunt For Red October. The book was selling modestly, until one well-known fan declared in an interview that he had read it, and pronounced it “a darn good yarn.”

That fan was yours truly’s favourite President, Ronald Wilson Reagan. Sales took off, and Clancy’s career was launched. Tom Clancy became the undisputed king of the patriotic-themed techno-thriller, and sold tens of millions of copies of his books. Near the end of his life, Clancy began collaborating with some young, up-and-coming writers, whereby he would come up with the stories, and the writer would write them, and get co-credit for writing the book. One of these writers, and in my opinion the best of them, was Mark Greaney.

Mark wrote several books with Tom, and after he passed away, wrote a couple more under the Tom Clancy brand about the Jack Ryan Universe. But he also wrote some brilliant thrillers of his own, starting with the book The Gray Man. Greaney created the character of the Gray Man, a super-spy and assassin on the run from his former employers at the CIA, a man who was an assassin-for-hire with a conscience. The character is a unique one in the annals of thriller writers, and the books are very well-written, edge-of-your-seat, can’t-put-it-down type of books. I am a huge fan, and consider Greaney a worthy successor to the great Tom Clancy.

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His latest instalment in the Gray Man series is called Relentless. It’s a story ripped from today’s headlines, about a shadowy private intelligence firm that is supposedly working as a deniable asset for Israeli Intelligence, but whose actions seem to be against the interests of Israel and the Unites Statesm and benefiting that of its enemies, most especially the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Courtland Gentry, aka The Gray Man, is convalescing from an infection and other serious injuries sustained during his last op, when he is called upon to get back into action.  Why? Because a former NSA operative seems to have gone rogues and the other CIA assets sent to find him are easily identified and neutralized. It seems like someone has hacked into the government intelligence personnel database and created a means of identifying any and all official assets of the CIA. Gentry is an off-books asset, and his boss at the CIA thinks that he is the only one he can send in to figure out what the heck is going on without having his cover blown

Complicating matters is that Gentry’s love interest, Zoya Zakharova, and ex-FSB assassin turned deniable CIA asset, has been tasked with penetrating the private intelligence firm on behalf of the CIA, and in such a way that her identity is blown. Her former employers at the Russian FSB are none too happy about her defection, and have found out where she is and are sending a hit team to neutralize her.

The story unfolds with Gentry fighting off his infection, doing his mission, and attempting to protect the woman he loves from the FSB killers.  The cast of characters include Gentry’s love interest, his boss the DDO Operations at the CIA, his former CIA SAB Commander, an ex-Stasi spymaster, a Russian FSB hit team, German intelligence operatives, a shadowy Intelligence chief from an allied Middle Eastern country, US special forces types gone rogue, actual Middle Eastern terrorists, and a US Ambassador to Germany who happens to be the President’s best friend.

There are plenty of twists and turns throughout the story to keep you guessing, and have you riveted to the book. The ending is both predictable and shocking, and that too, is a Greaney hallmark in the Gray Man series. I won’t give you any more details, because I don’t want to spoil the fun of the story for you. If you are a fan of techno-thrillers, you will love this one. Greaney knows his stuff.

And he does tell a darn good yarn.

 

 

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Nicky Billou is a serious knife nut! He is one of PolitiCrossing’s roving correspondents, writing about politics, family, culture, and masculinity. He is the #1 International Best Selling Author of the book: Finish Line Thinking™: How to Think and Win Like a Champion, and The Thought Leader’s Journey: A Fable of Life. He is also the host of the #1 podcast in the world on Thought Leadership, The Thought Leader Revolution (www.TheThoughtLeaderRevolution.com), featuring guests such as Chris Widener, Scott Adams, John Maxwell, Seth Godin, Marie Forleo, Barbara Corcoran and Mark Victor Hansen. He is an in-demand and highly inspirational speaker to corporate audiences such as RBC, Lululemon, Royal LePage, and TorStar Media. He is an advisor and confidante to some of the most successful and dynamic entrepreneurs in North America. He is the co-founder of eCircle Academy (www.eCircleAcademy.com) where he runs a yearlong Mastermind & Educational program working with successful Entrepreneurs, Coaches, Consultants, Corporate Trainers, Clinic Owners, Realtors, Mortgage Brokers and other service-based Entrepreneurs, positioning them as authorities in their niche. He is the creator of the Thought Leader/Heart Leader™ Designation.



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Business

Culture Jamming, by Kalle Lasn

America has been subverted by corporate agendas and its elected officials bow before corporate power as a condition of their survival in office

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Here are excerpts from the culture-shaking book, Culture Jamming by Kalle Lasn, published by  William Morrow in 1999, which rings truer now than ever!

A Multitrillion-dollar Brand

America is no longer a country. It’s a multitrillion-dollar brand…. essentially no different from McDonald’s, Marlboro or General Motors. It’s an image “sold” not only to the citizens of the U.S., but to consumers worldwide. The American brand is associated with catch-words such as “democracy;’ “opportunity” and “freedom.” But like cigarettes that are sold as symbols of vitality and youthful rebellion, the American reality is very different from its brand image.

America has been subverted by corporate agendas. Its elected officials bow before corporate power as a condition of their survival in office. A collective sense of powerlessness and disillusionment has set in. A deeply felt sense of betrayal is brewing.

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By The People?

American culture is no longer created by the people. Our stories, once passed from one generation to the next by parents, neighbors and teachers, are now told by corporations with “something to sell as well as to tell.” Brands, products, fashions, celebrities, entertainments, the very spectacles that surround the production of culture, are now our culture.

Our role is mostly to listen and watch-and then, based on what we have heard and seen, to buy.

A free, authentic life is not possible in America today. We are being manipulated in the most insidious way. Our emotions, personalities and core values are under siege from media and cultural forces too complex to decode. A continuous product message has woven itself into the very fabric of our existence.

Most North Americans now live designer lives: sleep, eat, sit in car, work, shop, watch TV, sleep again. I doubt there’s more than a handful of free, spontaneous minutes anywhere in that cycle.

Smile Button Culture

The human spirit of prideful contrariness and fierce independence has been oddly tamed. We have evolved into a smile-button culture. We wear the trendiest fashions, drive the best cars industry can produce and project an image of incredible aff1uence-cool people living life to the hilt.

Behind that happy mask is a face so ugly it invariably shocks the hell out of my friends from developing countries who come to visit, expecting the giddy Americana depicted on TV and finding instead a horror show of disconnection and anomie.

Our mass media dispense a kind of Huxleyan “soma.” The most powerful narcotic in the world is the promise of belonging. And belonging is best achieved by conforming to the prescriptions of America™. In this way a perverted sense of cool takes hold of the imaginations of our children. And thus a heavily manipulative corporate ethos drives our culture.

The Facade of Cool

Cool is indispensable, and readily, endlessly dispensed. You can get it on every corner (for the right price), though it’s highly addictive and its effects are short-lived. If you’re here for cool today, you’ll almost certainly be back for more tomorrow.

American cool is a global pandemic. Communities, traditions, cultural heritages, sovereignty, whole histories are being replaced by a barren American monoculture.

Living in Japan during its period of sharpest transition to a western way of life, I was astonished by the speed and force with which the American brand took hold. I saw a culture with thousands of years of tradition behind it vanquished in two generations. Suddenly, high school girls were selling themselves after class for $150 a trick so they’d have cash to buy American jeans and handbags.

The Earth cannot support the lifestyle of the cool hunting American-style consumer. We have sought, bought, spewed and devoured too much, too fast, too brazenly, and now we’re about to pay.

Killing the Planet

Economic “progress” is killing the planet. This did not fully hit home for me until nightmarish environmental stories suddenly appeared on the news: acid rain, dying seals in the North Sea, medical waste washing up on New York beaches, garbage barges turned away from port after port, and the discovery that the milk in American mothers’ breasts had four times the amount of DDT permitted in cow’s milk.

To people like me, for whom time had always seemed like a constant, eternally moving train which people got on and, seventy years later, got off, it was the end of innocence. The premonition of ecocide — planetary death — became real and it terrified me. It still does.

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Covid

Give Me Liberty or Give Me The Vaccine

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Patrick Henry Speaking About Freedom

The American history books use to teach of a patriot named Patrick Henry.  Patrick Henry was a founding father of American.  Yes the term founding father is a term that Google still finds worthy as they identifies Henry as one.  Patrick Henry was a man who stood up to the oppression of King George.  In the second Virginia Convention in 1775, he proclaimed “give me liberty or give me death.”  In days past, Patrick Henry was a symbol of the American spirit of freedom.  His passion and his ability to communicate his desire for freedom are powerful words that continue to motivate bold and courageous leaders for the last 200 years.

Today it would be wise for patriot Americans who value freedom to again pick up this sentiment.  The call that freedom is the most essential component of existence which brings life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Vaccine Manipulation:

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President Joe Biden now declares that Americans who do not take the Covid19 vaccine are “not as smart as he thought they were” and that they (American citizens) are “a real problem.”

Many Americans believe in the vaccine, but they believe more in freedom.  Donald Trump, the leader of the Republic Party has also encouraged people to get the vaccine.  The vaccine is not a Republican or Democrat issue, but how the vaccine is administered very much speaks to how the political leaders look at freedom.

Free Americans should believe that the Government should not be able to dictate the health decisions that an individual should make.  They believe that they should have the ability to review facts and data and not be forced to make a decision about their health based on strawman arguments like you “if you care for your pet, you should get vaccinated.”

Maybe instead of shaming people or trying to bribe people into getting the vaccine, lawmakers should convince people on the merit of the issue and allow them to exercise their freedom to make the best choice for themselves and their country, after all that is what freedom is about.  Maybe President Biden could try to solve the real problem in the vaccine issue.  He could do that by answering the questions that many Americans are still looking for as they analyze their decision about their own health.  Answering any or all of the following questions would be a start:

Vaccine Questions About Covid19:

  1.  What are the top 3 risks that a person might experience with the Covid19 vaccine?  Instead of answering this simple question, those that are in charge get offended when people seek good answers to health.  It has been the history in America to outline the potential health hazards to the choices that people make such as a warning on a pack of cigarettes.  But this concept seems foreign to those that would like to manipulate the public to make a decision without a choice – that just seems wrong.
  2. Why does everyone need the vaccine, including those that already have had Covid19?  This is an honest question and one that Senator Rand Paul has asked.  There may be a case to be made for those who have had Covid19 to receive the vaccine, but it seems like no logical or rational person is making one.
  3. Is there anyone who should not get the Covid19 vaccines?  Health issues are very personal issues and often are different for people with different issues and demographics.  There has been very little talk in main stream media about exceptions to the vaccine and more and more talk about how even babies should be getting the vaccine.  John Hopkins recently misled their readers with statement on their website about children getting the vaccine – “Yes. Experts, including those at Johns Hopkins, believe that the benefits of being vaccinated for COVID-19 outweigh the risks. Although COVID-19 in children is usually milder than in adults, some kids can get very sick and have complications or long-lasting symptoms that affect their health and well-being. The virus can cause death in children although this is rarer than for adults.”  Further the CDC is now recommending the pregngnant women and new mothers who are breastfeeding should receive the vaccine.  They state on the website “Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. If you are pregnant, you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19.”  These kind of one sided statements, should be carefully read to consider the political biases of the organization.  One has to wonder if they are really concerned about the health of the individual or the health of the whole.  I would be very hesitate to recommend a trial vaccine to a pregnant woman when there has not been studies to show that no impact will be made on the mother of the child.
  4. Where did Covid19 orginate?  An essential question in the vaccine conversation, should be consideration as to where Covid orginated.  If Covid19 orginated in a lab as a way to kill off a part of the communist elderly in China, then that would dedicate who needs the vaccine.  The idea a communist country was developing a method to kill off part of their population for population control should be considered and explored.  Americans politicians on the left seem to forget that just a few years ago communist China limited the number of babies that their people could have and would kill a child if it was born and was above the number that the government dictated as acceptable.  It is fair for the American population to wait to understand where Covid19 began before making health choices about their own health.

These questions and many more still deserve an answer.  It is the responsibility of the leaders and press in a free country to answer the fair and honest questions of free people.  Until those questions, millions of Americans will still cry out “give me liberty, or give me the vaccine.”  These Americans still choose freedom first.

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