Blink of an Eye

Blink of an Eye

by William S. Cohen


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250194923
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 10/30/2012
Series: Sean Falcone Series , #1
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 683,982
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

WILLIAM S. COHEN served as Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton from 1997-2001. A Republican, Cohen spent twenty-four years in office as a Congressperson and a Senator before his noteworthy appointment to the cabinet of a Democratic president. During his tenure as the 20th U.S. defense minister, Cohen directed America's military actions in Iraq and Kosovo. In 2001, he founded the Cohen Group, a global business consulting firm. He has written for The Washington Post, the Financial Times, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal and is the author of the novel Dragon Fire. William S. Cohen lives with his wife in the Washington, D.C. area.

Read an Excerpt



NED WINSLOW, Google News Network’s best-known correspondent, stood at the edge of a dusty parade ground in his familiar pose—white shirt, sleeves rolled up, hair mussed, one hand clutching a microphone, the other one pointing. Viewers were used to seeing him grimly pointing toward the wreckage produced by another suicide bombing. But today he was smiling and pointing to arrays of soldiers, Americans in ranks on one side, Iraqis lined up on the other side. Between them was a tall pole with an American flag snapping in the breeze.

The camera swung away from Winslow to the flagpole. The American flag came briskly down to the waiting hands of two American soldiers. Two Iraqi soldiers stepped forward to raise their flag as GNN SPECIAL REPORT: GOODBYE, IRAQ ran across the bottom of the screen.

“Yes, the last of the troops are going. As you know, the combat troops left little more than a year ago, leaving behind fifty thousand soldiers who were designated as noncombat and given “advisory and assistance” missions. These are those soldiers, hauling down the flag, handing Iraq over to the Iraqis.”

*   *   *

AMONG the millions of screens showing GNN’s “Goodbye, Iraq” coverage was a large screen on a wall in the library of a mansion on a hill that rose from the Connecticut shore of Long Island Sound. The owner of the mansion watched from the depth of a gray leather chair. He was alone in the room.

“Yes, goodbye,” he whispered. “Goodbye to America.” He walked to a long mahogany table that served as his desk, opened the drawer, and reached for a cell phone. He hesitated for a moment, put down the phone, and resumed looking at the screen.

*   *   *

LIVE appeared on the upper right of the screen. The view changed to a seascape of docks, small boats, and landing craft.

Winslow now stood in one of the landing craft. “Within minutes of the flag-raising ceremony earlier today,” he said, “American troops here in Basra began boarding landing craft like this one. Now all the ceremonies are over and we are bringing you the final act. They have handed over responsibility to the Iraqi Army and we are on our way out.”

The camera panned to the grinning soldiers surrounding Winslow. They wore their usual camouflage combat uniforms and caps instead of helmets. They did not carry weapons or backpacks. Piled around the craft were duffel bags bearing soldiers’ stenciled names.

“We’re leaving via the port of Basra and heading for the USS Elkton, an amphibious transport,” Winslow said as the camera aimed toward the gray silhouette of a ship, about half a mile offshore.

Winslow’s British accent sometimes strayed toward donnish. But he always leavened it with a sardonic air that reached out to his audience, as if urging them to connive with him in telling the story. He had the confident look of a correspondent who knows he is trusted.

“In her enormous hold, the Elkton can accommodate a fleet of amphibious vessels like this one, along with about four hundred troops—a small percentage of the thousands of U.S. combat troops leaving Iraq. Others have been flying out of Kuwait in transport planes or leaving by sea, as we are—in the last wave. The boats around us are U.S. landing craft like this one and local port lighters, slim little boats carrying supplies to the Elkton.

“Welcome to Goodbye Day,” Winslow continued. “Yes, it’s Goodbye Day for U.S. forces in Iraq. A personal note. I was here—here in Basra—for the start, in March 2003, when it all began.” A few moments of taped battle scenes appeared behind Winslow, fading as he said, “And now, on this momentous day, I am here again.”

The landing craft was close to the Elkton when the camera suddenly shifted from Winslow, drawn to the image of a boat that was pulling away from the others, its frothy wake spreading into a broad V.

Winslow kept speaking: “In this ship, and in many more, the last American soldiers are leaving this war-torn land that the United States invaded in March 2003. And today—” Noticing the speeding boat, Winslow turned his head and interrupted himself. “That boat … What’s happening?”

The camera focused on the speeding boat, now within one hundred yards of the Elkton. The camera switched to a telescopic lens that zoomed down on the boat. A new image filled the screen: a green-hulled boat, a bearded man, black-hooded, crouched over the steering wheel in the bow; another man at the stern, clutching a weapon.

“Jesus!” Winslow, off-camera, exclaimed. “He’s got an RPG! Looks like he’s aiming it to us!” A billow of smoke erupted from the rocket launcher.

In a blurring whirl, the image of the boat vanished from the screen. The horizon tilted, as the helmsman sharply swung the landing craft away from the speeding boat. “Get it!” Winslow yelled at the cameraman. “Get the boat!”

The camera turned back to the boat, which was alongside the Elkton. In the image, the ship’s gray hull loomed large. The boat veered, striking the hull, near the Elkton’s bow.

On camera, the roar of an explosion. A cloud of smoke. A jagged hole in the hull. The sea rushing in. Bodies in blue shirts and dungarees bobbing in the sea.

*   *   *

IN the Connecticut mansion, the man stood and picked up the phone again, his eyes never leaving the screen.

“They will pay for this,” he said aloud. He punched a number, waited a moment, and spoke rapidly, his voice gruff and angry.

He lived amid one of the great private art collections in America. The paintings in the library, his favorite room, reflected his eclectic taste: On one wall, a Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, his colors merging sea and sunset and hinting at the impressionists to come. On another wall, a tranquil seated nude by Henri Matisse, known not so much for its soft beauty as for its price at a Sotheby’s auction: $41 million, topping the bid of the Museum of Modern Art.

The library’s south wall was a window on the Sound, framing an ever-changing view of sea and sky—“the greatest art in this room,” he inevitably said to his rare visitor. At the moment, the clouds were darkening.

*   *   *

ON screen, the camera was focused on the Elkton. Sailors jumped into the sea to recover the dead and wounded. Helmeted, shouting men appeared along the deck, waving weapons.

Winslow’s landing craft swung around, as did all the other boats and landing craft. “We’re heading back to shore,” Winslow said “The RPG missed us. We’re all okay.” The camera swept around the craft, showing the soldiers’ faces as they tried to take in what they had just seen.

Winslow hated disseminating to the world the sight of America’s soldiers at their most vulnerable and desperate moments, but he had no choice. He was a professional journalist, one of the very best in the business, and for him, there were no holidays from tragedy or history. As he and his crew headed back toward shore, he continued to describe the attack and the desperate effort being made by those aboard the Elkton to save their comrades and their ship.

Suddenly, the on-screen image changed. The unfamiliar face of a young, frazzled-looking woman appeared at a newsroom desk. GNN REPORT: TERROR AT SEA scrolled across the bottom of the screen, as it would for many days to come. “GNN has just learned that the suicide boat that struck the Elkton is of Iranian origin,” the woman said, her voice quivering. “It’s a kind of boat called a Bladerunner. The original, British-built Bladerunner has a top speed of sixty-five knots per hour and can carry one or two Russian-made supertorpedoes.” She looked down at the sheet of paper in her hand. “The source of this information is said to be highly reliable.”


Copyright © 2011 by William S. Cohen

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Blink of an Eye 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
mkj1953 More than 1 year ago
Dull, rambling, long winded and predictable. Expected so much more.
foxtrotoscar More than 1 year ago
With all of Cohen's access to activities of the Department of Defense, he certainly picked a loser of a plot to write about. No exciting car chases, gunfights or anything else to make the reader turn pages. All in all a rather dull read when compared to other novels in this genre.
roycharlesPA More than 1 year ago
The reason I bought and read this book was that the author was a former US Senator and Secretary of Defense combined with the subject matter. I thought he would have good insight into what is really going on in the region. Certainly this is not great literature......but it accomplished its objectives with me. It is a good fictional representation of the complexities, nuances and the conundrums that we face in south Asia. It's worth reading if the subject matter is of interest.
harstan More than 1 year ago
A nuclear bomb leaves thousands instantly dead in Savannah. They are the fortunate as CDC reports others will soon die horrifically from the radiation poisoning. The Congress and the media demands to know why the Intelligence community including Homeland Security failed to prevent the deadly attack while rumors abound that more bombings of other cities will follow. As people panic with Congress and the media making things worse with accusations of an Iranian terrorist cell and Presidential election politics demanding retaliation as established by the 9/11 reactions. President Blake Oxley orders his National Security Adviser Sean Falcone to uncover the truth while his opponent Texas Senator Mark Stanfield insists the Savannah incident proves the incumbent soft on terrorism. General George William Parker agrees with Stanfield as he goes to the media demanding an all out assault on Iran. This exciting political thriller is at its best with the dysfunctional DC crowd who push personal agendas over facts. The story line is fast-paced but lacks the impact of the terrorist attack obliterating Savannah on key elements of American society. Still this is an engaging cautionary thriller that makes a case to gather the facts before hysterically rushing off to war. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a good read. I would have preferred more details of life after the resolution. It ends a bit too quickly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sandiek More than 1 year ago
The unthinkable, unspeakable has happened. A nuclear explosion has destroyed an American city. Thousands of American lives are lost. Entire blocks of the city are vaporized. Who could have done such an act? Further, how will America respond to such an egregious act of terrorism? The shock and horror quickly turn to demands for revenge and war, even before responsibility for the act is known. Will the President declare war, and will he do it because it is the right thing to do, or because he is pushed into it politically by rival factions determined to steer the course of the country? Iran is the first suspect and the one most people instinctively believe is behind the horror. Other nations start to line up on either the side of America retaliating against Iran or against such action. Israel has been poised to take action against Iran itself; where will it come down in the balance? Will the other countries with nuclear weapons stay on the sidelines or use whatever happens as entry for settling old feuds? Is Iran the true answer or is another country responsible and using Iran as a smokescreen? What about the domestic groups determined to steer the country towards their vision of how the future should unfold? Are any of these groups involved? William S. Cohen has written a heartstopping novel of terror and intrigue. Cohen is a former Secretary of State, serving under President Clinton. His background and expertise gives the book the immediacy and weight of details known only to a select few; those who daily balance what is best for the country and how America must relate to the myriad needs and desires of other countries, both friends and foes. This book is recommended for readers who enjoy spy and suspense novels; it is indeed a must-read.
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RadersFavorite_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Brenda Ballard for Readers Favorite After years embattled in a war that has yet to be confirmed as justified, the day has come for our troops to come home. The Middle East is on their own and Goodbye Day marks their adieu. Until...caught on camera, surreal and seemingly untrue, another rash of violence comes about, ending Goodbye Day before it can really even start. A story that has so many twists, so many turns .. . the players as dark as oil fires burning in the desert half a world away. It will take a patriotic man, one with dedication and perseverance, to find those behind the sinister ploy. Will the earth survive this evil or will it be saved from the clutches of what lies in planning, just ahead. Apocalyptic and waving the impending doom, the pages turn quickly in anticipation, and perhaps even dread, of what shall come next, who will overcome. Written by William S. Cohen, this book could very well be taken from a top secret journal; it reads real enough that anybody who watches the news will find it disturbing. With characters whose personalities and deeds ring so close to be potentially true, it is without a doubt one of the most thought-provoking fictions I have read in my entire life. In a day and age where we just don't know what to believe and what to disregard, I found myself wondering out loud whether this came from the mind of a man with a great imagination or a great memory ...