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Iran’s Nuclear Threat: Two Timely New Thrillers

May 26, 2009

My review in today’s Washington Post (Tuesday, May 26) could hardly have been timed better — a testament to the books’ timeliness, I should add, not my own. The review weighs in on two new thrillers about the Iranian nuclear threat — Rich Lowry and Keith Korman’s Banquo’s Ghosts and David Ignatius’ The Increment — and it appears on the front page of the Style section while an article on North Korea’s recent nuclear testing commands page A1, accompanied by a front-page analysis of Obama’s policies and resonant editorials here, here, and here. The books also come on the heels of all the recent revelations about the U.S. use of torture and all the back-and-forth between the current and previous administrations about the efficiency and effectiveness of various tactics in the post-9/11 world — topics which are discussed in one or both of the two titles under evaluation here.

Both books are provocative and interesting in their own ways, but The Increment seems aesthetically the stronger novel; despite its name, the book wins that race not by an inch but by a mile, in my opinion. But apart from evaluating the books individually, I think it says something important about the urgency of the subject matter that these novels have appeared at the same time and something about the heated debate surrounding this topic that the two books could be so aesthetically and ideologically different. Check it out for yourself.

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