My Thoughts on Battlefield China
Battlefield China is the sixth and final book in Rosone and Watson’s “Red Storm” series. The previous five books, all of which I have read and reviewed, are Battlefield Ukraine, Battlefield Korea, Battlefield Taiwan, Battlefield Pacific, and Battlefield Russia. They’re all excellent, but Battlefield China is, while still pretty good, the weakest book in the series.
That’s not to say that Battlefield China is a bad book. It isn’t. It’s reasonably interesting and fun to read, is certainly as well researched as the other five books, and the plot line is, for the most part, good.
The problem is that it felt less thought through than the others in the series. The war wraps up not because of the grinding sort of combat that would be attendant with a land war in Asia (and is heavily represented in most of the book), but because of a miraculous betrayal. Similarly, whereas explanations for why events happened or how certain important aspects of the war, namely logistics, are covered in the other books, the explanation for how the US is able to prosecute and finance such a large and destructive war despite the attacks on its financial structure are left unremarked upon.
Similarly, a number of concepts that were built up to be important in the first few books, such as China selling off US treasuries, Russia figuring out how to hack our drones, and other topics are never really discussed. It’s left unsaid how the US weathered those challenges, which is something I was hoping the book would cover.
Finally, the book gets somewhat monotonous. Each battle is described in mostly the same way- US soldiers fighting off massed horded of Chinese human wave attacks by spraying into the waves of Red Chinese- before being miraculously saved by Claymore mines, artillery bombardments, or the last-minute arrival of air power. Perhaps that’s just because the authors envision the combat with the Chinese being about the same in each battle, but I did think it was weaker than in the previous novels.
I still enjoyed reading Battlefield China. It was a fun book, if somewhat less well done than the others, and many of the concepts, battles, and tactics Rosone and Watson envision on quite interesting. Their depiction of cyber war and if a losing state would resort to nuclear combat is some of their strongest writing, as is their depiction of how the US would go about invading and eventually defeating China. When I say it’s not as good as the others, I only mean that I’d give it an A- rather than an A.
The reason I focus on the downsides is because they seem quite avoidable. Had Rosone and Watson spent a bit more time on the book, I think they could have wrapped everything up in a much more satisfying way. All the concepts they had spent time developing but then left hanging could have been tied up and the new ideas they brought into Battlefield China could have been fully developed rather than introduced and then forgotten or left unexplained.
Even with its weaknesses, Battlefield China is a book all Americans should read. That’s because the very concept of the book, which is how the US and its allies would fair in a war with Russia and China, is an excellent one and stands as a warning to the current US foreign policy establishment. We think we’re invincible, but are likely wrong.
The Chinese, as much as we might hate to admit it, could likely sink our carriers, shoot down our planes, and take Taiwan in the early days of a conflict with them. They have long-term goals that they stick to and are, as a result, overtaking us. We need to wake up to the Chinese threat before it’s too late and deal with it realistically. That’s the main message of Battlefield China and is, I think, one that must be listened to.
So, if you want to read a series of excellent novels, you need to check out the Red Storm series by James Rosone and Miranda Watson. Yes, there are a few problems with their works. But, generally, their books are fun to read, excellently researched, well thought out, and about important issues. Plus, unlike some works of military fiction, they’re quite realistic in how they present America’s ability to wage war.