Have you ever wondered why China’s powerful and now highly competent military puts up with its inept, irresponsible, and often corrupt civilian-run government? If so, have you wondered what would cause them to revolt and what such a revolt might look like? On a different note, have you ever thought about what it might look like if a larger-than-life, fabulously wealthy American business magnate like Elon Musk found himself in a violent dispute with a foreign government? Well, if your answer is “Yes!” to any of those questions, you’re in luck. That’s exactly what Ted Halstead’s new book, The Second Chinese Revolution, is about.
Without giving away any major plot points not covered in the early stages of the book, the plot is this: An Elon Musk-like businessman is putting SpaceLink satellites in space to provide fast internet around the globe. The Chinese are furious that their citizens are using those satellites to circumvent the Great Firewall and learn the truth about the outer world and the CCP. As a response, it hires the “Russian Agents” from Halstead’s earlier books to push back while also engaging in a military response. Escalation ensues…
I wish I could say more, but, in the interest of keeping the plot a surprise, I won’t. In any case, it’s a fabulous story that kept me hooked throughout. Furthermore, unlike the previous book Halstead wrote and I reviewed, The End of Russia’s War in Ukraine, I found the plot believable. No nukes are involved, character motivations make sense, and what happens always makes sense.
There are a few weaknesses, two to be exact. One is a lesbian relationship that Halstead inserts unnecessarily. It’s not a major plot point, but it is distracting and unnecessary, especially for those readers that don’t approve of that sort of relationship. The second is that Halstead uses character dialogue to opine on political topics, such as the ease of buying guns in America. The discussions include both points of view, which is commendable, but they’re unnecessary and distract from the actual plot of the book.
However, those weaknesses are almost entirely outweighed by The Second Chinese Revolution‘s strengths, especially the level of though Halstead put into ensuring the plot was realistic. Each minor plot point, each action scene, and each step up the escalatory ladder between Musk (called Eli Wade in the book), the US government, and the CCP contain the level of detail necessary to seem believable and hold up to the scrutiny of a layperson reading the novel. Furthermore, his ability to discuss the equipment spies, FBI and PMC teams, a covert US submarine, and the Chinese military might use to complete their missions shows the depth of his knowledge and research.
Another interesting twist in The Second Chinese Revolution is that, for the American reader, the “Russian Agents” aren’t the good guys. Unlike in the previous four novels, where there actions coincided, at the very least, with US interests, in The Second Chinese Revolution they are acting entirely against US interests. The reasons why they would be doing so in service to China and why the Russian state would back dangerously escalatory Chinese actions make sense and again show that Halstead did his research on the challenges facing Russia and its relationship with Red China.
Finally, perhaps the best part of The Second Chinese Revolution is the character Eli Wade, who is based on Elon Musk. That character shows exactly how an industrialist with cojones would respond if attacked by the CCP. Instead of backing down or giving in, he fights back and stands up for freedom. In this modern-day, surrounded as we are by weak men, especially in the civilian world, it’s refreshing to read about a non-military man who acts like a hero and does what is right but difficult, not what is easy but cowardly. Even better, the character is realistic enough that I can imagine Musk responding as Wade does in the novel.
So, overall, The Second Chinese Revolution is a terrific, fun novel. It’s exciting, well-written, well-researched, and somewhat inspiring. We all know China is a major threat and that fighting it would be a challenge. But, if Halstead’s research is to be believed, perhaps the mighty Chinese dragon isn’t as powerful as it appears…even a businessman with backbone could fight back!