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CAPT George P. Norman, USN (Ret.) servedon five submarines; including Commanding Officer of USS MAINE(SSBN 741) Gold from 2005-2007 and USS OHIO(SSGN-726) from 2012-2014. He completed deployments to the Arctic, north Atlantic, Mediterranean, Western Pacific, and7 strategic deterrent patrols.Key shore assignments include Program and Budget Chief on the Joint Staff, Executive Assistant to Commander Navy Personnel Command, and Executive Director of the CSDS12 Tactical Analysis Group. He retired in 2014 after 27 years of service and is the Director, Strategic Planning for the Finance at Prudential Retirement in Hartford, CT.

In EMPIRE RISING, Rick Campbell creates a plausible, if unlikely, scenario to challenge the U.S. Navy and military. Although some may quickly dismiss his premise, the point is not will it happen but could it happen. Viewed in that context, EMPIRE RISING is a fast-paced and thought-provoking novel that will not only entertain but should cause the reader to give some serious concern to the potential risks we must at least consider in our military strategy.

With its back against the wall, the United States military needs a miracle—enter USS MICHIGAN. Although the real protagonists are the National Security Advisor and the embarked SEAL team leader, it is the stealth, mobility, and daring-do of MICHIGAN and her crew that becomes critical to success. In spite of my personal bias toward the USS OHIO (I was CO of OHIO Blue up until July 2014), I was quickly engrossed into rooting for MICHIGAN and her crew to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.

Against this backdrop, the author produces a different breed of submarine adventure novel. The language and descriptors are more than enough to let the reader easily envision him/herself underway; especially those of us with submarine experience. But for the most part, the story quickly moves through long tactical scenarios and focuses more on the operational level of submarine warfare.

Being a fiction novel, I do wish there was a little bit more character development. It was difficult to feel real passion toward any of the leading figures. I found myself involved more by the story than the characters. I would also acknowledge that some of the scenario, in particular the initial U.S. response, might be a bit fanciful. I certainly consider the basic premise to be reasonable, but I would hope that our response would not be quite as dogmatic as presented.

Nonetheless, EMPIRE RISING

presents an interesting strategic backdrop that we cannot and should not simply dismiss. It is an exciting and fast-paced story that should get all of us thinking about what if. If you enjoy submarine adventure novels, put this on your summer reading list.

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