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.

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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News

Tech Tools Leading to Our Fast-Forward Future

Researchers will likely develop nearly every tech tool you’ve seen in science-fiction movies and television

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Lowell Catlett, a retired professor in Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business, observes that all the high tech products on your desk and in your home will soon be antiques from a capability stand point. The almighty chip grows smaller and more powerful, and thanks to advanced microscopics, they’re proceeding towards a time in which the chip will be no thicker than a fraction of a human hair. In fact, microscopic motors today are no thicker than a human hair!

A World of Marvels

Scientists and engineers will likely soon develop nearly every technology you’ve ever seen in sci-fi movies, Superman comics, and all of the versions of Star Trek. Many miraculous breakthroughs are available now, but simply are not cost-effective for the masses. Existing sunglasses – far beyond the ill-fated Google Glass – allow you to watch any television show while you’re wearing them, wherever you are.

As “sun glass” technology is perfected, future models can be built right into your eye. You’ll automatically have protection from sun glare as daylight levels change. Laser technology in sunglasses for U.S. Air Force pilots will enable them to fire missiles or operate plane controls through their eye movements!

Professor Catlett says, “Once you combine laser and computer technology, you’re able to read smart books – books that know when you’ve lingered on a word and hence, don’t understand its meaning.” So, then and there, while you’ve got your magic sunglasses on and are reading this book, a synonym pops up on the screen.

Instant Updates

Well-funded fire and police departments will equip each of their officers with such sunglasses to instantaneously give them updated information in the field. A firefighter entering a burning building could be told to turn left to safety, rather than right. A police officer could be told that the bridge is out 50 yards ahead and to take a hard right into the sandbank.

One day, politicians will be fitted with such technology. A new algorithm for identifying thumb prints, ten times faster than what currently exists, is nearly ready. Hence, about 30 seconds after you look at someone across a room his name will spell out in the corner of one of your lenses. No more forgetting old what’s-his-name.

Every sales force worth its salt will be outfitted with such lenses. Imagine, you walk into a new company, you don’t know a soul, and soon enough you’re greeting everyone by his/her first name. Until the technology is widely known, you’ll be regarded as some type of wizard.

Think Your Way Through It

The electronic headband, an emerging product, allows you to think your way to everything you want to do in your home. Sitting in your armchair, you’ll be able to lock the doors. You’ll be able to start your coffee maker. Want the television on or off? You’ve got it. Same with the lights. Refrigerator door. Windows up or down.

If you want to write a letter to your sister in Des Moines, you’ll only need to think the letter. You’ll be able to “program” your personal computer, write, and e-mail the message simply through your thoughts.

Soon, jet pilots flying billion dollar planes will be able to sit in the cockpit, think about what they want to do next, and have the plane be totally responsive. “Ultimately,” says Catlett, “machinery will be totally user-friendly. No instructions, no need to speak, no need to do anything, just think what you want to do.”

The Ubiquitous Computer

The world will enter a stage of the “ubiquitous computer.” Computers will be all around you, anywhere you go, built into the side of walls. They’ll be so powerful and all encompassing that they’ll be virtually invisible.

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Life

Work-life Balance and the Five-Mega-Realities

Work-life balance is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home life with needed leisure

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In the 1st edition of my book Breathing Space which appeared in 1990, I discussed five major trends – what I called mega-realities – that influenced every aspect of our being, and from which no one was immune. Briefly, these five mega-realities include:

* an expanding volume of knowledge
* mass media growth and electronic addiction
* the paper trail culture
* an over-abundance of choices
* population growth.

Knowledge – In one way or another, everyone fears being under-informed. The enormous volume of new knowledge broadcasted and published in every field exceeds our ability to keep pace. More words are published and broadcast in a day than you could ingest during your lifetime. America leads the world in sheer volume of information generated and disseminated.

The impasse of this over-information era is that the time necessary to learn the rules for effective living now exceeds your lifetime. This is why management books so often miss the mark: they list dozens — if not hundreds — of rules, when you are already grappling with more rules than you can handle.

Mass Media – The effect of the mass media on our lives continues unchecked. More than four out of five American households own DVD players. In 1972, three major television networks dominated television – ABC, NBC and CBS. Now, there are more than 500 full-power independent television stations. Many cable TV subscribers receive up to 200 channels that offer more than 72,000 shows per month.

With its sensationalized trivia, the mass media glut obscures fundamental issues that do merit concern, such as preserving the environment or feeding the poor.

Paper Trails – Like having too much data and eyewitness reports, having too much paper to deal with makes you feel overwhelmed and overworked. Americans today are consuming three times as much paper as ten years ago. There are two basic reasons why society spews so much paper:

* We have the lowest postal rates in the world.
* We have the widest base of paper-generating technologies.

The typical executive receives more than 200 pieces of unsolicited mail each month – about 12 pieces daily. The average family receives more than 100 catalogs that they did not request, on top of those they did request.

An Overabundance of Choices – Having choices is a blessing of the free market economy, but it’s overwhelming, increases time expenditure, and is a mounting form of exhaustion. More than 1,260 varieties of shampoo are on the market. More than 2,000 skin-care products are for sale. An excess of 75 different types of exercise shoes are available, each with scores of variations in style, function, and features.

Population – From the beginning of creation to 1,850 AD, world population grew to one billion. It grew to two billion by 1930, and is now approaching eight billion. Every three years, nearly 250,000,000 people are added to the planet.

Each day, world population (births minus deaths) increases by more than 265,000 people. Geometric growth in human population permeates and dominates every aspect of our earth, its resources, the environment, and all living things.

The Quest for Work-life Balance

Against this backdrop, the quest for work-life balance is more vital than ever. Predictably, a preponderance of speakers, trainers, authors, journalists, and others whose professions entail regular communication with the masses, proclaim the virtues of achieving and maintaining work-life balance.

However, a glaring question arises. What, exactly, is work-life balance? Compared to the legions of instances in which the term is cited, surprisingly little has been written in articles and books about what the concept actually entails.

During my 33 years in pursuit of understanding why the pace of society has sped up, what the impact has been on the typical individual, and how each of us can forge our own sense and experience of breathing space throughout our lives, I have honed and refined the tenets of what I consider work-life balance.

What Exactly is Work-life Balance ?

For several years now, those who apparently have no idea what work-life balance is and have virtually never experienced it are proclaiming that it is passe — in favor of work-life harmony or work-life integration.

The truth is, these terms all mean approximately the same things. You can split hairs anyway you want, and I suppose that’s a good way to differentiate a program if you’re seeking to offer one to clients, but the reality is work-life balance is the overarching issue of our time that all career professionals strive to achieve.

Work-life balance is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home life with sufficient leisure. It is attaining focus and awareness, despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for your time and attention.

Work-life balance entails having some breathing space for yourself each day; feeling a sense of accomplishment, while not being consumed by work; and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing career obligations. It is rooted in whatever fulfillment means to you within 24-hour days, seven-day weeks, and however many years you have left.

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