Humphrey Hawksley’s journalistic career, when paired with his fiction-writing expertise, make for excellent non-fiction writing. Asian Waters is a really comprehensive and digestible read, despite its extremely weighty content. Hawksley’s tone and choice of language remains simple yet informative throughout, despite becoming increasingly complex in terms of content matter. Hawksley also manages to maintain a sense of pace and excitement with his writing, as if it were a novel rather than a non-fiction guide, especially when delving into and combing through actual history, geography and social science.
Though there is a hefty scope to cover when it comes to the Asia-Pacific conflict, the South China Sea, Chinese expansion and the territory dispute associated, Asian Waters covers everything you would want to know about the topic without it feeling as if you are being overloaded with information.
You may be tempted to read it as an almanac for the specialist topic it covers, or perhaps as an academic accompaniment, but it also doubles up as a travel book and is arguably best consumed in this way. Asian Waters was fascinating in itself, just for my own interest’s sake, so I imagine that it would be particularly enlightening to consume whilst travelling the very area it covers.
The focus on political tension between the countries of the Asia-Pacific is unpacked with great skill and tastefulness, but without wavering on the hardy facts. This is where Hawksley’s experience as a BBC foreign correspondent is most prominent – his understanding of the dynamics at play remains at the forefront of his writing.
Asian Waters is not simply a retelling of the history and politics which have been at play for years, or solely the facts and information which led to the current situation. There is also vital contextualisation that allows the reader to understand where these issues sit at the time of reading, understanding how a Trumpian government impacts the conflicts, or how the relationship between Moscow and Beijing influence the rest of the world.
Asian Waters connects all the branches of knowledge and intellect to give a clear retelling of the reality, including social influence, historical action which has taken place, and the geographical layout that facilitates as much. As well as clarifying the past and contextualising the present, it focuses on the future. The book predicts how the implications of what has happened and is happening will affect what is to come for Asia.
Pages: 304 | ASIN: B07MXDFQK1
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Man on Ice follows Rake Ozenna of the elite Eskimo Scouts as he struggles to protect his family on the brink of World War 3. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
When I visited Little Diomede island in the Bering Strait in Alaska I was amazed at how close it was to Russia. Every morning, we stepped out and saw the Russian island of Big Diomede barely two miles away and occasionally a Russian military helicopter circling to land at the small base out of sight on the other side. It was time when US-Russian relations were taking a big dip. Many thrillers are written about Russia in Europe, but rarely on this real, live border where American and Russian territory meet. It is an incredible place because there are no border lines, no customs sheds, no marker buoys in the sea water or on the ice in winter – just wind, skies, birds, and emptiness. I just had to set a thriller there. The Russian island is run by the military. The American island is an Eskimo village with no government protection. What would there be to stop the Russians from just taking it? Why would they want to? What would be the reaction in Washington?
This book was able to take a rare look at the Eskimo people and culture. Why did you want to include them in this story and what aspects were important for you to portray?
The Bering Strait setting of Little and Big Diomede islands is native land. Before the Cold War Eskimos travelled back and forth between the islands barely recognizing Russia and America as two separate nations. The border was open to them. When it was suddenly closed during Cold War hostilities, families were separated, and still are today. The American Eskimo villagers of Little Diomede are some of the most rugged and determined people I have met. By God, are they isolated! Their environment is totally unforgiving. But they love it and have lived the land, sea and ice for generations. To make credible the stakes of a Russian incursion onto Little Diomede, I had to show this village as it really was, portraying the challenges of environment and community as well as the ingenuity the villagers use with the terrain, weather and local knowledge to win. At the end of the day, even if you’re the president of Russia or the United States, you do not mess with the Eskimos of Little Diomede.
Rake is an intriguing character that continued to develop as the story progressed. What did you model his character on and how did he change as you were writing the story?
Rake Ozenna is a blend of real life people whom I have met throughout my career as a journalist. Rake’s motivation compares to any character determined to make the best of his life and give himself a wider world than his small, isolated island community. He enrolls in the Alaska National Guard, taking every opportunity he can, eventually breaking the ceiling, making officer and captain. He serves in Iraq and Afghanistan where he meets Carrie Walker, a trauma surgeon, Brooklyn, white, middle class, professional. They both have a wild, independent streak, but their backgrounds couldn’t be more different. Rake adores Carrie and can’t believe his luck. As the action gathers pace, and Rake finds himself more and more alone and hunted down on the island, then on the ice, we see his characteristics of ruthless leadership develop. He needs to win, but is never sure if his skills and natural ability to carry them out are compatible with loving Carrie and whether the two of them could ever make the kids, nice house and white picket fence thing ever work. Interviewing many heroes over the years, I have found there are always two strands of motivation. One is the bigger cause of the country and the mission. The other is the lover, the child, the home community. Sometimes they run in parallel. Often, they clash.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I deliver the second Rake Ozenna political thriller at the end of May 2019 for publication later in the year. Many of the same characters, Rake, Carrie and Stephanie Lucas will be there and the location will be a wild, inhospitable place in the European Arctic.
An incident in the snows of Alaska could trigger the outbreak of World War III in this tense and twisting thriller.
When Rake Ozenna of the elite Eskimo Scouts brings his fiancée, trauma surgeon Carrie Walker, to his remote home island in the Bering Strait, they are faced immediately with a medical crisis. Then Russian helicopters swarm in.
America is on the eve of an acrimonious presidential transition and inauguration. As news breaks of a possible Russian invasion, Stephanie Lucas, British ambassador to Washington DC, is hosting a dinner for the president-elect.
Ozenna’s small Alaskan island community is suddenly caught in the crosshairs of sabre-rattling big powers. The only way to save his people is to undertake a perilous mission across the ice. Can he survive long enough to prevent a new world war breaking out?
Posted in Interviews
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There is never a dull moment in Humphrey Hawksley’s Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA – In Alaska. Not only is there intense action, the gripping story will keep readers glued to the pages until the story is done. This novel is carefully planned and executed in spectacular fashion and it’s hard not to feel the intensity with each sentence. We follow Rake Ozenna as he returns to his home island in Alaska with his fiancé in tow. Rake us a brilliant military veteran and Carrie Walker is a passionate doctor. The story begins with a medical concern over Rake’s niece struggling in childbirth and then explodes into a frontal assault between Russia and the United States of America some 48 hours before the inauguration of a new president.
This book explores the heighten tensions of looming war, the strain a relationship can undergo under such trying times, and the bonds that tie us to those we call family. Each of these themes is expertly crafted as if reading a biography of someone’s life. Characters change, for better or worse, but continue to develop as the story progresses. At first, it might seem overwhelming when readers realize just how intense the topics are that Hawksley is going to address. However, the humanity he affords his characters is genuine. Readers will feel an emotional connection to their fictional lives.
From start to finish Man on Ice is, I think, about risk; what is risked and what is gained. It’s a complicated matter, writing about politics, especially in such a sensitive time. There are so many people, positions, relationships to carefully lay out. Hawksley doesn’t seem to have a problem with weaving a complex narrative that is easy for readers to follow, even for those who may not be politically savvy. This is part of what makes such a great novel and shows readers what a good writer Hawksley is. the fine attention to detail is what gives away the rich research that went into this novel, and Hawksley does his best to be respectful to Eskimo culture and portray the reality these people face in the far north. He takes a hard look at the struggles these people are facing and doesn’t shy away from harsh comments on the reasons why they are in the place they are.
The pace is fast and the energy is high in Humphrey Hawksley’s Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA – In Alaska. It’s a tense situation with Russia threatening invasion while America wrestles with its new president-elect and the delicate touch that politics requires. It’s a journey of one man who has returned home for tender reasons and who leaves his home slightly broken. This book takes a look at the human condition and dances with the delicate relationships formed within. It starts off with darkness and trepidation yet a small piece of hope, only to descend into a flurry of agony and tough decisions. This is more than just a political thriller.
Pages: 224 | ASIN: B079SG2VDG
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