Off the coast of Indonesia, an American cargo ship has been seized by terrorists, its captain kidnapped and its crew mercilessly slaughtered. In Washington, a peace-loving President's refusal to punish the transgressors has enraged the sitting Congress, led by a wrathful Speaker of the House.
An ambitious young congressional assistant, Jim Dillon has discovered a time bomb hidden away in America's Constitution—a provision that could be used to wrest power from the Chief Executive, a long-forgotten law that could incite a devastating constitutional crisis . . . and plunge the country into chaos.
Now, as a battle group steams toward a fateful confrontation in the Java Sea—commissioned by Congress and opposed by the President—Dillon finds himself in the center of a firestorm that rages from the highest court in the land to the killing fields half a world away. Suddenly there is much more at stake than the life of a single surviving hostage and a superpower's military credibility—as a great nation prepares for war . . . against itself.
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About the Author
A graduate of TOPGUN, James W. Huston flew F-14s off the USS Nimitz with the Jolly Rogers. He served as a naval flight officer and worked in Naval Intelligence before becoming a lawyer and the acclaimed author of The Shadows of Power, Balance of Power, The Price of Power, Flash Point, and Fallout. He lives in San Diego, California.
Read an Excerpt
"Good morning," the man said in English, not taking Phillips's hand.
Phillips looked into his dark brown eyes. There was no joy at being a Ford mechanic in them. "You boys here to get the cars ready?"
"Where is captain?" the man asked. He had a perfect complexion and dark eyes. His eyebrows were thin lines. He was much shorter than Phillips, who was six feet tall and weighed two hundred fifty pounds. The small man weighed half as much.I could crush him like a bug, Phillips said to himself as he unconsciously sucked in his belly.
"What do you need to see the captain for?" Phillips asked, annoyed. "Can I see your papers?"
"Where is captain?" the man said in a quiet voice, standing steadily, unintimidated by Phillips.
"I suppose he's on the bridge. But before we do anything, I need to see your papers.
The man put his satchel down and squatted next to it. He opened the zipper half-way and quickly pulled out a Chinese Type 64 machine pistol with a long silencer. He came up suddenly and placed the barrel under Phillips's chin. "Where is captain?"
"What the hell, . .?" Phillips's mouth suddenly went dry.
"Shut up," the man said quietly.
"Take us to captain," the man insisted. "Now." He eased the pressure of the barrel on Phillips's chin. Phillips swallowed hard. His heart raced. He tried to think of some way to deflect them, to get theminto a compartment he could lock, but his mind wouldn't work fast enough.
"Now," the man said again.
Phillips walked forward down the passageway Franklin had used. He stopped at the foot of a series of ladders that led to the bridge. As he missed the first step, his bootsmacked the tiled deck with a loud noise. The leader moved up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder. He leaned forward. "More noise, I shoot." He put the pistol in Phillips's back. "Understand?"
Phillips nodded. He climbed the ladder carefully. As his head reached the next deck, another sailor was waiting to go down the ladder. "Get out of here!" Phillips said in a terrified whisper with a wild look in his eyes.
"Why the hell should I?" asked Bart Jenkins in his usual cavalier tone as he stood waiting for Phillips.
"Now!" Phillips whispered, wanting to scream at him.
The leader noticed Phillips had slowed. "What doing?" he said, pushing up through the hatch with surprising force. Phillips rolled off the top of the ladder onto the deck. The leader stuck his head up through the hatch and saw Jenkins, who froze as the man raised his gun and shot.
Jenkins's knees gave out and he fell as two bullets screamed by just above his head. His adrenaline took over. He scrambled on his hands and knees through a hatch and around a corner.
The leader pushed his way past Phillips and stood. Two other men in Ford coveralls climbed up next to him and looked around hurriedly with their AK-47 assault rifles ready. They pointed anxiously in the direction Jenkins had gone. The leader shook his head, clearly not concerned.
The leader looked at him closely. "Who that?" he asked.
"What does he do?"
Phillips almost answered automatically, almost told him Jenkins was the radio operator. "Engineer," he lied.
He looked at Phillips for several seconds before speaking again. "To the bridge," he said.
Phillips made his way up the next ladder, and the one after that, followed by a long trail of men in Ford coveralls. As they moved snake-like through the ship, thePacific Flyer's crewmen assumed they were the Ford mechanics they had been expecting.
They stopped behind the bridge, and Phillips pointed to the door. "That's the bridge."
The leader looked around and put down his bag. The next five did likewise and removed their AK-47s. They spoke rapidly in what Phillips guessed was an Asian language, walked quickly through the door onto the bridge, and covered every entrance. Bonham leaped to his feet from his captain's chair, confused. Tommy Bacon stared open-mouthed. The leader crossed to Bonham and lowered his gun. "You captain?"
"Yes, I am. Who the hell are you?" he replied, trying to control his anger.
"Shut up." He pointed to the other men in coveralls with a wave of his handgun. "They do what I say. Understand?"
Bonham stared into his eyes, trying to read his intentions. "What do you want?"
Bonham tried to hide his surprise. He lowered his voice. "You can't have it," he said, his blue eyes burning.
"Already have," the man replied gruffly.
"Thehell you do. You can do anything you want to me. The rest of the crew won't do what you want."
"Yes, they will," said the leader. "You have weapons aboard?"
"No," Bonham said.
"Yes, you do. Small-arms locker on second deck," the leader said, shaking his head. "You think we not find out before, Captain Bonham?"
"How do you know my name?" Bonham asked, stunned.
"You lied," he said to Bonham sternly. He motioned to one of the men, who pulled Phillips to the center of the bridge. "Need punishment. The second Ford man took Phillips's hand and held it on the brass railing around the helm. He smashed his rifle on Phillips's left forefinger. Everyone on the bridge could hear the bone snap. Phillips fell to his knees in pain.
"You son of a bitch!" Bonham yelled at the man with the rifle as he held Phillips's shoulder.
Phillips's face turned bright red as sweat beaded on his forehead. He held his left hand with his right, fighting the pain, trying not to scream.
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The facts do not lie. We are a Republic- not a Democracy. The author treated this subject with integrity, honesty, and due diligence. Never have I read a book so well researched as this one. A credit to the United States of America.
Pedantic. Predictable. Just the usual political partisanship novel. Blah.
A situation applicable to today's headlines; piracy on the high seas!Very interesting scenarios; Constitutional powers of the three branches of government, political interests, Chinese involvement & potential military "rebellion."Congress overrules the President & orders the Navy to take action against Pirates. Do the Commanders obey Congress or the Commander-in-Chief?
Keeps you on the edge of your seat
never know what is going to happen
Balance of Power is as good as Huston's first book, only a slightly different flavor. Instead of congressional intrigue and aircraft carriers, this story concentrates on courtroom action and SEALs. Same fun, same cast of characters, great sequel.
What if the President of the United States is unwilling to use the military to protect U.S. citizens, and defend the nation 's rights and ideals from attack? What if Congress used a hidden clause in the Constitution to authorize military action without the President's approval? That's the spectacular theme of Balance Of Power, the thrilling debut novel from James W. Huston. For me, Balance Of Power's unique blend of the fascinating world of today's military technology with the intricacies of high-octane politics and legal maneuvering, makes it a new kind of intellectually-challenging, can't-put-it-down thriller. If you like military/political/adventure thrillers, you won't want to miss this book! It's like Tom Clancy and Stephen Coonts meet John Grisham on Patrick O'Brian's high seas. Balance Of Power's only flaw, albeit a minor one, is that it does not develop well enough the character of the bad guy, George Washington. Huston has the potential to be a new master in this genre. I can't wait to read The Price Of Power,the sequel to Balance Of Power, to see if Huston can deliver a solid 'one-two punch.' Look over your shoulders Clancy, Coonts and Grisham-- there's a new player in town!