Breakpoint

February 12, 2010
Author:
Richard A. Clarke
Publisher:
G.P. Putnam's Sons (12/4/2007)

Penguin Group | In his fiction debut, The Scorpion’s Gate, Richard A. Clarke, former counterterrorism czar for Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, projected a world in 2010 in which the United States and China were competing politically and economically for a dwindling supply of increasingly expensive oil and gas.  That competition naturally took them to the Persian Gulf where the largest oil deposits remained, where the United States was threatening Iran, and where fundamentalist Islamic forces had emerged in Saudi Arabia.  Although not meant to be predictive, many of the trends in the novel have developed and are dominating the news.  Now Clarke creates a scenario, set two years later, that is even more daring, controversial and frighteningly real.


In Breakpoint is the #1 bestselling author of Against All Enemiesgoes beyond the more familiar Middle East geopolitical scenarios.  Drawing on his years as Special Adviser to the President for Cyberspace Security and his work as Chairman of the President’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, Clarke brings readers into a special world of knowledge and inside information as he looks at present and future technology, the web of communications that ties the earth together—and how very, very easy it would be for a dedicated terrorist group to throw the world into utter chaos.

The global village is an intricately intertwined network of technology that has changed the way business is transacted, governments operate and national defense is conducted.  Binding together the world’s economies, governments and communications it is large, vital and extremely fragile.  Now a sophisticated terrorist group is seeking to “disconnect the globe.”

The action in Breakpoint takes place over a 12-day period and begins when a series of truck-bomb attacks in five U.S. states and on both coasts destroys 10 obscure, unmanned and unprotected beachheads—the nondescript, windowless shacks near the beaches where transoceanic fiber-optic cables come ashore from Europe and the Pacific and feed into Internet routers and switches.  Whoever the attackers are, the damage done to the international financial system and U.S. diplomatic and military command control is immediate and wide-ranging.  Data and communications links between the State Department and U.S. embassies in Europe, Africa, the Mideast and South Asia are down.  And more than half of U.S. military forces overseas cannot fully carry out their missions because they do not have unclassified Internet connectivity to the U.S.

The major government agencies all lumber into action but behind the scenes, the special projects office of the Intelligence Analysis Center (IAC) knows that to catch unconventional terrorists requires unconventional methods.  A small team—smart, agile, and quick—immediately starts to sift through a welter of often contradictory information about right-wing militias, Russian organized crime, Jihadist terrorists and enemy nation-states; chasing leads all across the country and overseas.  The FBI and Homeland Security are looking for answers where the streetlights shine.  The IAC team goes into the shadows.

Computer grids, communications satellites, biotech firms soon come under attack as the pace and scope of destruction increases.  Somebody has figured out an Achilles’ heel in America’s technology and national infrastructure, one obviously the government itself had not recognized.  Soon a breakpoint will be reached—and then there may be nothing anybody can do.

Breakpoint goes well beyond drawing attention to the very real and very frightening vulnerabilities of America’s critical infrastructure and the information systems that are essential to our national and economic security.  The book is filled with the technology being developed right now for a future just around the corner or in many cases already here—a technology certain to cause enormous political, social, and economic change.


“Readers want suspense, a fast pace and, most of all, the illusion they’re getting a glimpse of how things work in the clandestine inner circles of power.  Clarke’s book delivers on all these scores.  And in his case, the insiderness is no illusion.  Unlike most novelists, the man has actually been there and done that.”
–Joseph Finder, New York Times Book review of The Scorpion’s Gate

“Some of us have learned to listen when Richard A. Clarke has something to say.  Now Clarke comes with a novel that will keep you awake at night…He demonstrates a flair for action fiction.  His almost three-decade background in intelligence and counterterrorism serves him exceptionally well.
– Gary Hart, Washington Post on Clarke and The Scorpion’s Gate