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The Shadow War

Inside Russia's and China's Secret Operations to Defeat America
Narrated by: Jim Sciutto
Length: 9 hrs and 24 mins
5 out of 5 stars (185 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

CNN’s chief national security correspondent reveals the invisible fronts of 21st-century warfare and identifies the ongoing battles being waged - often without the public’s full knowledge - from disinformation campaigns to advanced satellite weaponry.

The United States is currently under attack from multiple adversaries - yet most Americans have no idea of the dangers threatening us. In this eye-opening audiobook, military and intelligence expert and seasoned reporter Jim Sciutto traces the expanding web of attacks that together amount to an undeclared but deeply dangerous war on America. 

With in-depth reporting from Ukraine to the South China Sea, Cuba to the earth’s atmosphere, unprecedented access to America’s Space Command, and new information from inside the intelligence agencies tracking election interference, Sciutto draws on his deep knowledge, high-level contacts, and personal experience as a journalist and diplomat to paint the most comprehensive and vivid picture of a nation targeted by a new and disturbing brand of warfare. 

America is engaged in a shadow war on multiple fronts, with multiple enemies. The practitioners include America’s most familiar adversaries: Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. But unlike conventional warfare, these conflicts are conducted in the shadows, with no formal declaration, and often use multiple sources, from influential businessmen and lawyers to hackers. And it is happening today. 

But America is adapting and fighting back. In The Shadow War, Sciutto introduces the dizzying array of soldiers, sailors, submariners and their commanders, space engineers, computer scientists, and civilians who are on the front lines of this new kind of forever war. Intensive and disturbing, this invaluable and important work opens our eyes and makes clear that future war is here.

©2019 Jim Sciotto (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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succinct

Not too political and very succinct in its telling. Gives some good information I wasn't aware of before. He does a very good job with his first hand accounts and walks through some of the backgrounds that lead up to current events you might not have put together before.

The best part it is not full of Nepostism of the US being helpless but instead provides hope that if we pay attention, we very well can be the country that continues to steer world policy. And thank God for that.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Informative and interesting, but incomplete.

Informative and interesting, but paints a dangerously incomplete picture of the world.

Jim Sciutto's book is a very interesting look at the tactics employed by two of America's rivals - Russia & China - to challenge American global dominance. Sciutto's theory is that both nations are employing a form of assymetric warfare designed to challenge US interests, but to stay "below the threshold" that would elicit a powerful (presumably military) response.

In order to support this idea, he cites several different incidents - from China's expansion in the South China sea, where he paints a picture of the transformation and militarization of the region by China over the last decade; to the Ukraine, where Russia very successfully employed proxies to manipulate the situation towards their interests. Throughout the narration, he builds a convincing case that these two countries are indeed violating what he defines as "the rules based global order", led by the United States. There is a compelling amount of evidence to demonstrate both that this is happening, and that the US response to it has been inadequate.

However, this is ultimately a superficial examination of world events, because the author seems to be under the delusion that these are exceptional actions, rather than simply tools of statecraft used by almost all global players - foremost among them the United States itself. Russia's use of proxies in the Ukraine follows exactly the template the US set in Libya and Syria, except that the Russians were more committed to the operation due to geographical closeness, and thereby more successful. China's militarization of the South China sea and aggressive ramp-up of military spending deserves scrutiny, but it must be viewed in context: China’s military spending is still only 1/5th that of the United States - and both past and current US administrations have made plenty of noises that would make any competitor nervous and inclined to increase their military budget.

The author’s portrayal of these two nations as the primary obstacle to world peace is simply not believable for most people who live outside US borders: Global polls, even during the Obama era, consistently showed that Russia and China are seen as less of a threat to world peace than the US.

Additionally, all the solutions proposed by the author fall right into the category described by Ronan Farrow as “mil-think” - an approach to solving conflicts that is primarily military, rather than diplomatic in nature. Sciutto’s selection of who he interviews is consistent with this, as his selections generally involve the people whose job it is to be paranoid about security - again, it is reasonable to interview people in security and threat assessment, but interviewing only these people without gathering the thoughts of diplomats is a glaring error. Thus, almost all the proposed “solutions” involve escalations in military pressure by the United States, or more drastic sanctions; neither of which are likely to garner any degree of public support from an already war-weary general electorate.

All in all, this is an informative book to read, but it paints a disturbingly inaccurate view of the world and involves almost no reflection on what our place in the world ought to be. Instead, much like former President George W Bush, it attempts to neatly divide the world into good and evil forces, and attempts to ask the question, “How should we respond to these evil people attacking us?”. It answers that question well, but the flawed premise of that line of questioning remains unexamined.

The book is still worth reading, as it is an entertaining and informative look at the tools of statecraft employed by our rivals, but I’d highly recommend reading two other books first: (1) Ben Rhodes’ “The World as it is” - an excellent memoir of the State Department during the Obama administration; and (2) Ronan Farrow’s “War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence” - about the decline of what used to be the world’s most powerful & effective diplomatic machine: the US State Department. Without that background reading, this book will likely just lead you into a state of mindless jingoism, the results of which were clearly seen during the Bush administration years. The world cannot be neatly divided into forces of good and evil, no matter how hard security experts try to convince you otherwise.

The narration for the audiobook is excellent.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Twilight Zone In Real Time

The Shadow War scares me because of America's late start in regards to computer coding, along with the inability to speak multiple languages and being behind China and Russia in regards to their technological advancements. . . Mr. Sciutto's narration is exceptional. He makes this story perfectly clear, America must catch-up with not one, but two superpowers. . . This is a splendid audiobook. It's concise within it's narrative and extremely thought-provoking. A must-read or listen too...🎧📲

Makes me wonder; is America really ready for a simultaneous, three prong, Shadow War, were it to happen today?🤔😢

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Josie A
  • Catonsville, MD USA
  • 06-03-19

Very interesting but very very repetitive

What else can I say. The author has a great voice but he repeats the information a lot, sometimes the same exact sentences in the same chapter and then again in future chapters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent Read For People Who Want To Know...

Know real threats to America's interest and who in government is trying to address them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A must read for all Americans!<br />

A very non partisan and factual narrative of what our country is in the midst of.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Eye openining

Great book from a seasoned report who has traveled the world. An awakening for sure.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good information

The content of the book is good information and the author does a good job of showing the reader what is going on around the world in what he calls the shadow war. And i believe he is pretty accurate. What i did not like was the author tended to make it about himself a bit to much. Just my opinion. Otherwise i would have given it higher overall.

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Great narration by Jim Sciutto

This book was great. Partly a rehash of news stories you may remember, but does a deeper dive. Narration by Jim Sciutto was amazing.

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Necessary Book

This book is an excellent warning against the US's current complacency concerning existential threats. I pray it's read by current policymakers.