St. Martin's Press (2012)

ISBN: 978-0312613013

ONSLAUGHT: The War with China: The Opening Battle chronicles Dan Lenson’s latest challenge as the U.S. Navy struggles to hold Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. As Allied computer, satellite, and financial networks are ravaged by cyberattacks, China and its Associated Powers begin to roll up American allies, launching invasions of India, Taiwan, South Korea, and Okinawa. USS Savo Island is one of the few forces left to stop them. But with a crew under attack from an unknown assailant, and rapidly running out of ordnance against waves of enemy missiles and torpedoes, can Dan and his scratch-team task force hold the line? Or will the U.S. lose the Pacific—and perhaps much more—to an aggressive and expansionist new People’s Empire? The most explosive novel yet in the long-running Dan Lenson series, Onslaught presents an utterly convincing scenario of how a global war with China could unfold.   Read more and order here:

The Dan Lenson/Modern Navy Novels

"One of the outstanding bodies of nautical fiction during the last half-century." - Booklist


David Poyer's first novel of the modern U.S. Navy, and still one of his most popular. Cloaked by the dawn mists, Task Force 61 -- carrying tanks, aircraft, and over 5000 Marines -- steams east toward H-hour. Their mission: rescue 100 hostages from a mountain stronghold deep in terrorist-supporting Syria. Staff officer Lt (jg) Dan Lenson has three problems. His commodore is an incompetent coward, a war is raging in the eastern Med, and his wife is one of the terrorists' hostages. An explosive tale of international crisis, personal valor, and emotional struggle.


Naval officer and Medal of Honor winner Dan Lenson’s being hidden by the US Navy after his derailing of a presidential assassination attempt.  In the Pacific, he’s assigned to conduct a major international exercise with players from South Korea, the US, Japan, and Australia.  But old alliances are unraveling, and old commitments are being rethought. 

As a force of unidentified submarines tracks down through the Sea of Japan, Dan realizes this may be the opening of a new Korean War – a cunning attempt to upset US alliances and realign the balance of power in Asia.  Together with a ruthless South Korean commodore, Dan battles faulty torpedoes, two typhoons, and the Washington establishment to keep war from erupting in the Pacific.  Featuring fierce action at sea and political intrigue ashore, Korea Strait is both a first-class thriller and a gripping exploration of leadership and command.


"Well up to Poyer's excellent standards.  No bluster, no dazzle, just real naval engagements that we may well see before long."  -- Kirkus Reviews

"Fans of modern naval warfare will relish the details and sea action, as well as the insights into the Korean situation and the Korean people."  -- Library Journal

"The taut 10th entry in Poyer's series featuring US Navy commander Dan Lenson (following The Threat) is rich in the naval detail fans have come to expect . . . Poyer provides readers with a satisfying, fast-paced narrative in which Dan must negotiate his past, his superiors, and an unpredictable submerged enemy.  Poyer's tech talk throughout is nicely turned, and Dan Lenson remains a winningly weary hero."  -- Publisher's Weekly

St. Martin's Press (1995)

ISBN: 0-312- 95450-6


 From inside the White House, Navy commander and Medal of Honor winner Dan Lenson takes on threats to the President and the Nation in David Poyer's ninth gripping thriller about the men and women of today's U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

After narrowly bringing USS Horn through a nuclear attack off Israel, Lenson, on light duty while recovering from his injuries, is tapped to serve on the military staff of President Robert "Bad Bob" De Bari.  Is it an honor?  Or the death knell for his career?  He's not sure.

But he'll do his duty.  Never one to settle for pushing paper, or following accepted procedure, Lenson plunges into his job as Director of Counternarcotics Interdiction on the National Security Council Staff.  His first challege is  the Cartel's assassination of the son of the new president of Colombia -- a death the Cartel hopes to pin on the US Air Force.  He's barely gotten a lid on this when his staff uncovers a frightening terrorist plot: a dirty bomb, smuggled into America via clandestine drug channels and loaded onto an air freight flight.  Meanwhile, an even greater threat is building inside the United States government itself.  When Dan becomes the aide carrying the codes to unleash nuclear war, and a deeply unpopular De Bari enrages both the Cartel and nakedly ambitious elements in the US government, Dan himself becomes an unwitting accomplice in a plot to kill the President -- and the only one who can possibly halt it.

Packed with vivid looks inside the White House, the Situation Room, Air Force One, counternarcotics operations, and the military aides and staff who actually exercise the powers of the Presidency in the 21st Century, THE THREAT is a spellbinding yet all too realistic thriller from first page to last. 

David Poyer’s novels are ranked among the finest military fiction of our time.   Not only for their vividness and authenticity, but for their unflinching probing of the deepest dilemmas of military and personal ethics.  Bristling with intrigue, action, and a wealth of inside detail about how the White House actually works, THE THREAT is Dave Poyer at his very best.


From Kirkus Reviews:
Dan Lenson becomes the man with the "football"—that ever-present briefcase containing presidential  nuclear codes.
    Still recovering from the nuclear attack that sank his destroyer (The Command, 2004), Commander Lenson faces formidable challenges as he tries to find his balance in Washington, working closely with a Clintonesque president thoroughly detested by the military establishment. The Navy has assigned Dan to the small anti-drug task force working directly under the National Security Advisor. It's a thankless job, far from the work the officer expected to do—identifying and neutralizing the looming threat of nuclear terrorism. Setting aside his reservations, Lenson steers his motley handful of aides into the narcoturbulence and quickly counters a move by a drug lord that would have undermined a reasonable Colombian administration. But as usual, Lenson's decisive action seems only to have increased the suspicion with which his higher-ups regard him. Things are equally cloudy on the home front. Lenson's beautiful, higher-ranking wife, Blair, spends as much time as Lenson does away from their suburban home. Then Dan is abruptly assigned to the spooky duty of guarding the nuclear football for President De Bari. The shallow, sneaky president, the first Italian-American in the Oval Office, has been cutting deep into the military budget, spending the peace bonus rendered by the collapse of the Soviet Union on domestic priorities. He's also been carrying on his infamous extramarital affairs, and evidence suggests that Lenson's wife may be in presidential target range. Throughout, Poyer inserts cryptic electronic conversations among unknown parties who are steering someone toward an assassination job.
    A gloomy story, but Poyer remains the most thoughtful of the military-thriller set and a master of authentic detail.

St. Martin's Press (1998)

ISBN: 0-312-17975-8


Ensign Danel V. Lenson reports to his first ship, USS Reynolds Ryan, an aging destroyer. With a mixture of pride and fear, he heads with her into the Arctic Sea in winter. Her orders -- to find the worst storm she can, and stay in it. Ryan's crew is drawn into pursuit of a rogue Soviet missile sub. But her most dangerous foe is within, and after her fiery loss at sea in a disastrous collision Dan confronts it in a secret court-martial deep in the bowels of the Pentagon. This is the novel that sees so deeply into the Navy psyche and the demands of life at sea that it has been required reading in the Literature of the Sea course at Annapolis.


Set in the blistering, sandblasted Persian Gulf, The Gulf begins with the destruction of a US frigate by a cruise missile, then escalates into a plot of breathtaking plausibility: a US-Iran war, with LCDR Dan Lenson, executive officer of USS Turner Van Zandt, FFG-91, in the center of its most dangerous mission. With its highly charged plot, its varied characters, and its authentic portrait of the Navy's rituals, pressures, operations, and weapons, this may be the most complex and wide-ranging Lenson novel.


Booklist calls Dave Poyer's cycle of modern Navy tales "One of the outstanding bodies of nautical fiction during the last half-century."  With CHINA SEA, his self-doubting protagonist Daniel V. Lenson faces for the first time the unforgiving challenge of command at sea.

Ordered to take over a Knox-class frigate from an alcoholic skipper, Dan finds he's inherited a damaged ship, an untrustworthy crew, and an ambiguous mission. He is to take USS Oliver C. Gaddis, soon to become PNS Tughril, on her final voyage to be donated to Pakistan.  But in Karachi, Dan gets new orders: take Gaddis still further east, and operate against modern pirates preying on commercial shipping in the remote, dangerous South China Sea.

Pursing an elusive and shadowy foe into an exotic, isolated world of hazardous reefs and tropic islands, Dan gradually discerns a larger purpose behind his supposed objective. Who are these "pirates?" What expansionist cunning supports them? Abandoned by the Navy, threatened by a mutinous crew, a murderous shipmate, and an approaching typhoon, Gaddis struggles to survive without crossing the shadow-line herself.

Filled with suspense, battle, and unforgettable descriptions of the sea's beauty and violence, CHINA SEA continues Dan Lenson's star-crossed career in his most dangerous and equivocal voyage so far.

From Shipmate, July/Aug 2000:

David Poyer '71 brings the courage, honor and commitment of sea duty to life in this vivid portrayal of life aboard a Knox-class frigate.  China Sea is the sixth book in his well-acclaimed series of the modern Navy.  Set in the early 1990s, the young lieutenant commander, Daniel Lenson, is rewarded with one of the great challenges that make a surface warfare career particularly exciting.  He is assigned to take early command of the frigate, but under less than ideal conditions, in order to prepare her for transfer to the Pakistani Navy.  The thrill of his first command rapidly succumbs to the reality of inadequate manning, poor morale, broken equipment and insufficient munitions as his task changes from delivering the vessel to one of combat in the South China Sea.
    The details describing life at sea are captivating as the action is continually rolling along and each page pulls a new twist into the architecture of the story.  In the end, the reader is treated to a fantastic battle that pulls each of the story threads together as a tightly woven yarn.  The surface warriors that read this book will need to allow Poyer some editorial license in stretching the limits of radar horizon, legal authority and bumper-boat-like survivability, but these few allowances do not detract from the excitement of the story.  In fact, Poyer offers the tactically minded officer some clever tools to keep in mind for those occasions we hope will never arise.
    The scales of intrigue, from murder, piracy and battle to international diplomacy, capture the imagination with lifelike characters of heroes and villains most naval readers can link to real people met during their own world travels.  He paints a collage of past events that provide logical extensions of how current geopolitics may be adversely affected by decisions made ten years ago.  Interestingly, his theme of anti-piracy tops the list of regional issues being debated in Southeast Asia today.
    Written to reflect a time already past, his political points provide ample food for thought in dealing with present day problems.  Piracy is an increasing problem; nations that drive ships in the South China Sea are forming coalitions to combat piracy; China is not willing to become a participant in those multi-lateral operations.  Poyer highlights the importance of strategic relationships in the region with Indonesia emerging as one of the most strategic partnerships the U.S. Navy can pursue.
    China Sea belongs in the library of avid fiction readers and deserves attention beyond the scope of mere recreational reading.  Even those that prefer non-fiction will find that this book provides more than adequate mental stimulation.  The excitement of the chase, as described by Poyer, transforms into an educational transcript of how the U.S. Navy plays an ever-important role in shaping our world and the seas we sail on today. -- Lcdr George Capen USN

St. Martin's Press (2008)

ISBN: 978-0-312-37493-8

St. Martin's Press (2000)

ISBN: 0-312-202-873

See the First Editions/Collector's Items page for personalized copies of the first edition hardcover.  

St. Martin's Press (2006)

ISBN: 0-312-33961-5


In the wake of a collapsed marriage and three stressful tours at sea, Lieutenant-Commander Dan Lenson is ordered to shore duty in Washington.  He's been handpicked by Rear Admiral "Nick" Niles for a high-priority, top-secret assignment: help design, test, and deploy the trouble-prone new Tomahawk cruise missile aboard the newly-reactivated Iowa-class battleships.  But as Dan moves into the thick of weapons-acquisition politics, he discovers the new missile has powerful enemies, determined to destroy it and him.  Leaks from the program suggest a spy is at work, and Dan comes under suspicion.  Meanwhile, he finds himself falling unexpectedly -- and perhaps unwisely -- in love with Kerry Donavan, a Plowshares activist on trial for her protests.  Dan's response to her mysterious murder on a Potomac towpath challenges his core beliefs as he struggles with the defense establishment, Congress, the Air Force, Chinese spies, and finally Libya to develop Tomahawk from a crash-prone failure into a deadly weapon.

St. Martin's Press (1998)

ISBN: 0-312-92722-3


Assigned to straighten out the innovative but failure-prone combat direction system of USS Barrett, DDG-998, Lieutenant Dan Lenson is at a personal crossroads after his divorce. As he starts his voyage, Graciela Gutierrez starts hers, plotting a daring escape from Cuba in a homemade boat. Struggling to crack a computer virus, Lenson hears whispers about Captain Thomas Leighty's sexual orientation, and doubts about the executive officer's loyalty. Somewhere aboard is a ruthless and cunning spy, with a plan to lure Barrett into a frightening international confrontation. Suspenseful, profound, and richly peopled, THE PASSAGE asks disturbing questions about honor, loyalty, justice, and truth.

St. Martin's Press (1990)

ISBN: 0-312-92577-8

See the First Editions/Collector's Items page for copies of the first edition hardcover.


A Novel of Bioterror in Iraq

From the bestselling author of The Med, The Circle, The Gulf, The Passage, Tomahawk, and China Sea comes a novel of Marine Corps special operations – the men whose bravery and sacrifice brought victory in the desert.

Six days before America invades Iraq, Saddam Hussein issues an ultimatum: If Coalition forces cross the border, he’ll turn Israel into “a crematorium.”  U.S. intelligence agencies suspect he’s concealing either a crude nuclear device or missiles loaded with chemical or biological agents. A quickly assembled Marine Recon team gets the assignment for Operation Signal Mirror. In the four days left before the ground war begins, Gunnery Sergeant Marcus Gault and his Marine-Army-Navy team must land in Iraq, locate Saddam’s ultimate deterrent, and target it for destruction.

David Poyer’s novels are ranked among the finest military fiction of our time. Not only for their vividness and authenticity, but for their unflinching probing of the deepest questions of military and personal ethics.  How can some men send others to die?  Is it acceptable to kill the innocent, to accomplish your mission?  At what point does acting against an aggressor become more dangerous than the aggression itself?  Bristling with suspense, action, and intensely human characters, backed by an insider’s knowledge of Marine and Navy operations, Black Storm is Poyer at his best.

Praise for BLACK STORM

"No one writes gritty, realistic military fiction better than David Poyer.  No one." --Stephen Coonts, author of America

“Not since James Jones' The Thin Red Line have readers experienced the gripping fear of what it's like to fight an enemy at close quarters. Far beyond that, Poyer's research is impeccable, his characterization compelling, and the Iraqi Desert Storm scenario, all too believable when we
see how the United States Marine Corp's finest deals with the worst of what mankind has to offer. A must read for all students of military history." --John J. Gobbell, author of When Duty Whispers Low

"I've been a David Poyer fan for over a decade and his storytelling abilities – always first-rate – just get better and better. Black Storm is a timely, gripping, compelling yarn told by a master."  --Ralph Peters, author of Beyond Terror and The War in 2020

"Black Storm is a gripping, gritty novel that reads like the real thing.  You're with the Marines every step of the way, on a search and destroy mission into the heart of Iraq. David Poyer knows his stuff."  --Vince  Flynn, author of Separation of Power and The Third Option
“ABSOLUTELY RIVETING. David Poyer has captured the essence of what it is like on long range patrols, and what Marine Force Reconnaissance and Special Operations Forces could face in the ongoing war on terrorism...distinguished by quick actions and continuing suspense that will keep the reader on edge until the very end.” – Maj Gen. HarryW. Jenkins, USMC (Ret), Former commander, 4th Marine Amphibious Brigade in Desert Storm.

St. Martin's Press (2002)

ISBN: 0-312-26969-2


TIPPING POINT: The War with China: The First Salvo

Dan Lenson’s under fire both at sea and in Washington. His command of the first antiballistic-missile-capable cruiser in the Fleet, USS Savo Island, is threatened when he's called home to testify before Congress. Shaken by the near-end of his career, Lenson returns to his ship uncertain of his future, but determined to unite and heal a divided crew.

In the Indian Ocean, Savo cruises off East Africa, protecting shipping lanes from pirates. But this routine patrol turns ominous when an unknown assailant begins assaulting female crew members. At the same time, a showdown starts between India and Pakistan.  Savo Island, with her unique but not yet fully battle-ready ability to intercept ballistic missiles, is all that stands between two nations on the brink of nuclear war.  Dan will have to cope with a deadly tsunami, incoming weapons, and a quickly tilting balance of power, as China finally makes her bid to humiliate and displace America in the Pacific , , , beginning a deadly war.

The fifteenth novel in David Poyer's acclaimed series of naval adventures featuring Dan Lenson, Tipping Point is an action-packed, authentic story of duty, war, and the stress of command, by the most popular living author of American sea fiction.  Ebook and hardcover, December 2015.

Welcome to Dan Lenson's home page and to my homage to and memories of the sailors, officers, and families of today's Navy and Marine Corps.  Some fans have asked if the order of publication is the same as the flow of time within the books.  I guess my answer is: usually, but not always!  I try to craft each book so it stands alone.  But if you prefer to read a series in order, I recommend proceeding as follows: The Circle, The Med, The Passage, Tomahawk, The Gulf, China Sea, Black Storm, The Command,  The Threat, Korea Strait, The Weapon, The Crisis, The Towers, The Cruiser, Tipping Point, Onslaught, Hunter Killer, and Deep War.   Next up is Overthrow, December 2019. All the Lenson books are available in ebook and usually also in paperback from St. Martin's Press, and can be ordered through your bookstore.  The Med, The Gulf, the Circle, and The Passage are being prepared for trade hardcover reissue. To order personally inscribed backlist hardcovers, see my First Editions page.  For information and reviews of the last two books, HUNTER KILLER and DEEP WAR, see "New Books" page.


On the morning of September 11, 2001, Commander Dan Lenson, USN, is visiting the Pentagon.  On that same morning, former Undersecretary of Defense Blair Titus is at the World Trade Center. Meanwhile, NCIS agent Aisha Ar-Rahim is investigating a terror cell in Yemen, and former SEAL Teddy Oberg is pitching an action movie to investors in LA.

Teddy, Aisha, and Dan immediately become involved in the military response to the 9/11 attacks.  Dan is assigned to the Joint Special Ops team in Afghanistan.  His mission: to overthrow the Taliban government.  In Yemen, Aisha undertakes a dangerous operation to uncover Osama bin Laden’s location in the Shah-i-Khot Valley. Teddy, having rejoined the SEALS, is assigned to Task Force Cutlass, to hunt down and kill bin Laden and other senior members of the and al Qaeda leadership.  Meanwhile, Blair struggles with recovery from serious injuries, and has to decide which course her life will take from here.

The thirteenth Dan Lenson novel, based on dozens of interviews, The Towers is a fascinating, historically accurate depiction of the events of September 11 and the American response, informed by deep sources in the Navy, the SEALS, the Marines, the NCIS, and the author's own military experience. A master of fast-paced sequences and heart-pumping drama, David Poyer takes the reader into the action and face-to-face with the enemy.


U.S. Navy Commander and Medal of Honor winner Dan Lenson has been handed another outside-the-box assignment.  TAG Charlie, an elite team of active duty sailors, SEALs, and civilian analysts, is tasked to investigate and defuse emerging naval threats around the globe.  When the Skhval-K – an unstoppable rocket torpedo designed to destroy U.S. aircraft carriers -- is demonstrated at a Moscow arms show, Dan tries to buy one, so the Navy can build countermeasures.  But he's lucky to escape with his life when he's set up by Russia's ruthless new counterespionage service. 

When the Russians sell the new weapon to Iran and China instead, Dan decides that if he can't buy one, he'll steal it.  But a daring nighttime penetration of Iran's largest naval base goes wrong too.  Now Dan finds himself captaining a submarine he barely knows how to submerge, pursued by Iranian destroyers and sub-hunting aircraft through the [cover of THE WEAPON] shallow, hazardous Persian Gulf.


"Poyer's fine military thriller, the 11th in his Dan Lenson series (after Korea Strait), provides what his fans have come to expect—tight structure, plenty of authentic technological detail and a hero who acts like a man rather than a cartoon superhero. When the Russians offer a powerful new rocket torpedo they've developed for sale to the world, the U.S. government sends Cdr. Dan Lenson, U.S.N., to purchase one. After the deal falls apart, Dan attempts to “liberate” one of the new weapons from a container ship headed for China. When that mission goes to hell, he and his team steal an Iranian submarine carrying one of the super torpedoes. From then on, we're submerged deep into Das Boot territory with Dan and his small crew playing cat and mouse with a deadly Iranian frigate." - Publishers Weekly

St. Martin's Press (2004)

ISBN-10: 0312318367

St. Martin's Press (2007)

ISBN-13: 978-0-312-36049-8

St. Martin's Press (2010)

ISBN: 978-0-312-54439-3


Years of drought and famine have brought Ashaara to the brink of chaos.  When the government falls, a charismatic young warlord known as Al-Maahdi begins an armed insurgency.  As thousands of refugees stream toward camps, the United States intervenes to try to stabilize a strategically important region.

Commander Dan Lenson and his Tactical Analysis Group find themselves at the heart of the humanitarian mission.  The team helps coordinate food and water supplies, manages massive port and inland logistics, and directs strikes against insurgents and pirates.   Dan is torn between the plight of men, women, and children struggling to survive, and the brutal reality of fighting a ruthless enemy.  NCIS agent and fellow Muslim Aisha ar-Rahim meets with Al-Maahdi to attempt to arrange a cease-fire . . . but fails.  A devastating insurgent offensive and a massive hotel bombing wipes out the last hope for democratic government.

With thousands of lives at stake and the humanitarian mission about to collapse, Dan -  along with SEAL master sniper Teddy Oberg - has to scour a forbidding desert, find Al-Maahdi, and kill him -- fast.

"Dave Poyer has again captured the essence of modern warfare. Not only is this a gripping war tale, but through its rich characters offers important insights into the roots of the current global conflict of cultures."   -Major General Andrew B. Davis, USMC (Ret), Former Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa

St. Martin's Press​ (2014)
hardcover ISBN: 978-1250020581
ebook ISBN: 978-1250020598


After receiving the Medal of Honor in the Gulf War, Commander Daniel V. Lenson, USN, takes command of a Spruance-class destroyer, USS Horn.  Horn will be the first US Navy warship to deploy with a mixed male/female crew . . . with all that implies for a service notoriously resistant to change.  Her mission is to enforce UN sanctions in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.  But a naval intelligence agent in Bahrain discovers a shadowy group that's plotting to detonate a terrifying new weapon somewhere in the Mediterranean.   Horn will be there.  But will her divided crew be up to taking on the most ruthless and elusive terror-bomber in al-Qaeda?

From the bestselling author of The Med, The Circle, The Gulf, The Passage, Tomahawk, China Sea, and Black Storm comes an exciting new novel of the modern US Navy at war

St. Martin's Press (reprint Aug 13, 2013)

ISBN :0-312-92964-1


Just promoted to Captain, Dan Lenson's first glimpse of his new command is of a ship literally high and dry. USS Savo Island, which carries a classified, never-before-deployed missile defense system, has run aground off Naples, Italy. Captain Lenson has to relieve the ship's disgraced skipper and deploy on a secret mission—Operation Stellar Shield—which will take his ship and crew into the dangerous waters bordering the Middle East.

As a climate of war builds, with threats of nuclear and chemical weapons, Dan has to rally Savo Island’s demoralized crew and confront a mysterious death on board, while learning to operate a complex missile system that has not been battle tested. But when the conflict reaches a climax, Dan is forced to make a decision that may cost hundreds of thousands of innocent lives—or save them, but at the cost of his ship and his career.

Filled with dramatic adventure, authentic technology, and distinguished by Poyer’s deep understanding of duty and the moral choices made in combat, The Cruiser is the fourteenth novel to feature Dan Lenson, at the beginning of an exciting new trilogy that will literally take him, his crew, and Savo Island around the world.  From any bookseller or order here.