Crashback (Hardcover)

The Power Clash Between the U.S. and China in the Pacific

By Michael Fabey

Scribner, 9781501112041, 320pp.

Publication Date: October 24, 2017

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (10/16/2018)
Compact Disc (10/24/2017)
MP3 CD (10/24/2017)

List Price: 27.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


An alarming message from an award-winning journalist with unprecedented access to the highest naval officers in America and China and their ships and weapons, this is a chilling look at the “warm war” over control of the South China Sea—one that is threatening to flare into full-scale conflict.

Out in the Pacific Ocean, there is a war taking place. It is a “warm war,” a shoving match between the United States, since WWII the uncontested ruler of the seas, and China, which now possesses the world’s largest navy. The Chinese regard the Pacific, and especially the South China Sea, as their ocean, and they’re ready to defend it. Each day the heat between the two countries increases as the Chinese try to claim the South China Sea for their own, and the United States insists on asserting freedom of navigation. Throughout Southern Asia, countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and South Korea respond with outrage and growing fear as China turns coral reefs into manmade islands capable of supporting airstrips and then attempts to enforce twelve-mile-radius, shoot-down zones. The immediate danger is that the five trillion dollars in international trade that passes through the area will grind to a standstill. The ultimate danger is that the US and China will be drawn into all-out war.

Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist Michael Fabey has had unprecedented access to the Navy’s most exotic aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, aircraft, and submarines, as well as those who command them. He was among the only journalists allowed to board a Chinese war vessel and observe its operations. In Crashback, Fabey describes how every year the US is “losing sea.” He predicts the next great struggle between military superpowers will play out in the Pacific, and his book, more than any other, is an accurate preview of how that conflict might unfold.

About the Author

Michael Fabey has reported on military and naval affairs for most of his career. In his work for National Geographic Traveler, the Economist Group, Defense News, Aviation Week, and Jane’s, he has collected more than two dozen reporting awards, including the prestigious Timothy White Award. Few journalists have had as much firsthand experience of America’s naval ships and aircraft and the officers who command them. A Philadelphia native, he currently resides in Spotsylvania, Virginia. Crashback: The Power Clash Between the US and China in the Pacific is his first book.

Praise For Crashback: The Power Clash Between the U.S. and China in the Pacific

“A very prescient book.”
Courtney Kube, NBC News

“Good on-the-ground (or, better, on-the-sea) reporting from both sides of the conflict. Fabey gives his Chinese sources a thorough workout, the little emperors and true believers alike, and he has a sharp eye for what faces the American fleet if push comes to shove.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Colorful sketches of the ships, common seamen, and top leaders on each side . . . A well-informed, readable treatment.”
—Library Journal (Starred Review)

"Crashback is a fascinating mix of well-reported fact and geopolitical analysis that illuminates critical strategic issues for the United States. Above all it asks the right questions as we collectively grapple with the most critical international relationship of the 21st century: China and the United States of America."
Admiral James Stavridis, USN (ret.), former Supreme Commander, NATO, and author of Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World's Oceans

"Brilliantly written and engaging . . . It takes exceptional knowledge and writing ability to convey this level of complexity with such clarity. From the flight deck to the Pentagon, Fabey shows us the gripping reality of a warm war that is turning hot."
—Tim Marshall, New York Times bestselling author of Prisoners of Geography

"Crashback, by one of the world's most knowledgeable and well-connected journalists, is tense and fast-paced. To dig out the real story of the coming clash between the U.S. and China in the Pacific, Fabey tracked down four-star admirals, toured the flight decks of aircraft carriers, spent hours in the wardrooms of U.S. Navy cruisers, and stood on the bridges of Chinese destroyers. He also probed the secrets of Hainan Island, home of China's most important naval bases. You won't know where this important story of looming confrontation is going until you read this book."
Robert Haddick, visiting senior fellow, The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies and the author of Fire on the Water: China, America, and the Future of the Pacific

"Crashback is an up-close, comprehensive view from sea level of the complex geopolitical issues at stake in the East and South China Seas. With his perceptive insights and crisp analysis, Michael Fabey clearly explains the maritime warfare implications of attempts, notably by the United States, to maintain an international rules-based system in the face of China's arbitrary 'land grab' at sea."
—Reader Admiral Chris Parry, Royal Navy (ret.), and author of Super Highway: Sea Power in the 21st Century

"An exceptional book that illuminates the national security issues American will face in the Asia-Pacific region over the next decades. The "Great Wall of Sand" that is being established in the South China Sea by China will only continue to grow and our maritime forces must be prepared to preserve the right to sail where necessity leads. Crashback should be required reading for every wardroom."
—Rear Admiral Terry McKnight, USN (ret.), and author of Pirate Alley: Commanding Task Force 151 Off Somalia

“An accessibly written book . . . Crashback provides a telling picture of the operational challenges the U.S. Navy faces in the western Pacific.”
— Wall Street Journal