Saturday, July 19, 2008
Book review: The Whole Truth
The Whole Truth by David Baldadcci is a timely summer read. This tale of international intrigue and "perception management" is over-the-top but not entirely implausible, which is what makes it truly scary.
Shaw, a man with no first name, is an off-the-books problem-solver for governments. Strong, smart (he speaks more languages than the U.N.), he's the best at what he does, but he does it grudgingly. He is controlled by a man named Frank, who hands out the assignments. When Shaw meets Anna, everything changes. He has met the love of his life, and he wants out. Frank says there is no out.
Elsewhere, a billionaire defense-contractor businessman has an idea to remake the world order to be more like the Cold War, a period he considered more stable than the current situation, where terrorism fears reign. He begins a media campaign to get the large countries of the world re-arming, and is largely successful. Shaw's Anna gets caught in the middle, however, and this brings Shaw on the case.
Shaw's not alone; enter two-time Pulitzer-prize winner Katie James, who just got fired because of alcoholism. She accidentally enters Shaw's and Anna's world and becomes caught up the action.
Katie and Shaw are the only ones who seem capable of ferreting out the truth, the whole truth, of a dangerous game of image and idea management that brings the world to the brink of the next world war. While clearly preposterous, knowledge of the American government's willful misconstruing evidence before attacking Iraq makes the book both timely and frightening. We must ask ourselves: are we critical enough of what we read on the Internet and hear from the mainstream media? If Baldacci has aims more far-reaching than a bestseller, to do something like educating the American public on how easily we can fall for untruths, he might just have pulled it off. A page-turner with a message; who'd a thunk it?