Published in 2014, Sting of the Drone by Richard A. Clarke is a thriller that deals with a key part of America's national security stance over the past fifteen years.
The U.S. government's drone program is quite extensive, although what would happen if that program came under attack? Who could possibly be behind such a sophisticated assault on U.S. interests? And what could be the endgame?
Clarke's a good writer and knows how to make a story realistic and exciting. Unsurprisingly for a thriller, character development is not profound. Having said that, the book includes several entertaining personalities (and a bit of romance) which some readers will likely find compelling.
Clarke's had an interesting, impressive career; he worked for the U.S. government for three decades, which included time in the White House and at the Departments of State and Defense.
This is, of course, a work of fiction, but many of the issues and dilemmas presented in the novel are all too real. In the post-9/11 era, drones have been a prominent (and controversial) part of U.S. foreign policy, under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Have government officials really thought carefully enough about this matter? Is the U.S creating more terrorists than it's killing? And what about international human rights norms and the moral implications of drone policy?
The book addresses a serious and topical subject. It's safe to assume that drones and targeted killings will be a part of America's surveillance and counterterrorism toolkit indefinitely. Importantly, Clarke does a nice job of balancing nuance with accessibility. Politically inclined readers looking for an easy, stimulating read over the holidays will probably like this one.