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The hero of State of Fear is John Kenner, an MIT professor who is a cross between James Bond, Indiana Jones, and Jonas Salk. His mission is no less than to save the world from the actions of a radical environmental group called the National Environmental Resource Fund (no, the members aren’t referred to as NERF balls, but they should be) that plans to — and has the resources and capabilities to — create a series of wildly destructive environmental catastrophes, including an Asian tsunami, all of which will be blamed on global warming.
This race between the forces of good and evil takes place in exotic locals across the globe — Antarctica, Paris, Tokyo, the Arizona desert, and New Guinea, to name a few — in the usual breathless, action-packed, in-the-nick-of-time style of the traditional thriller, only with scientific sermonettes along the way (complete with un-thriller-like graphs and scientific citations). But readers can speed through the parts where the good guys are being chased by cannibals and crocodiles in New Guinea or running from lightning showers and flash floods in the desert Southwest. This stuff is about as credible as pro wrestling, and perhaps even less interesting.
What’s important in State of Fear is the science and the take on how environmental groups operate to sell Americans on really bad ideas. These scenes are far more realistic and convincing than the chases.
There’s the evil Nick Drake, head of NERF working his charm on scientists, trying to convince them they can no longer afford this lofty and old-fashioned notion that they are to pursue the truth regardless of where it leads. They must, because the stakes are so high, become part of the environmental rescue team. There’s the idealistic lawyer, Peter Evans, an intelligent and “well informed” man who requires mountains of evidence to be convinced that what “everyone knows” about global warming is not true. Crichton shows how Big Environment is just another part of the political and cultural establishment and is as manipulative as anyone else in town.
With any luck, thousands of thriller readers who pick up “Fear” with nothing on their minds but entertainment will stay the course and have their minds fortified against one of the frauds of the ages. Crichton is certainly qualified to do the science required for this public education. He’s a 1965 graduate of Harvard Medical School — though he makes too much writing thrillers and screenplays to practice medicine — and he’s done extensive scientific background work for his previous dozen or so science-based thrillers.
Don’t wait for the movie to come out on this one, though. It’s far too un-PC to ever be made. It has given reviewers with establishment leftie organs the vapors. The NYT review, for example, huffs with words like “shrill,” “preposterous,” “right-wing,” “ham-handed,” “screed,” and such like. Any book that sets the NYT this much on a boil is probably worth a few hours of reading time. And that’s all the 600-plus pages of State of Fear will require — if readers take my advice and buzz through the silly crocodile parts.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?