Wednesday, January 28, 2009

book review: The Last Jihad by Joel Rosenberg


Title: The Last Jihad
Author: Joel Rosenberg
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Forge / Tom Doherty Associates, Hardcover, 352 pages (December 1, 2002)
ISBN-10: 0765307154
ISBN-13: 978-076530

The political thriller, The Last Jihad by Joel Rosenberg is a little dated (Sadam Hussein was still around in 2002 and figures large on the book’s villain list) but a fast-paced and exciting read nonetheless. His fleshing out of the worst ‘what if” terrorist scenario, as witnessed by the political insiders closest to the fictitious U.S. president, is detailed, realistic and unthinkable.

The story is told in a fast-paced, almost cinematic way. The cat-and-mouse action switches from Denver, to Israel, to London, to Jerusalem to Air Force One within chapters. I must admit once in a while I wondered exactly where I was, with whom, and had to check the back story to remind myself of what they did.

Maybe the largeness of the cast and the flatness of the main actors in this plot-driven tale were partly to blame. No one sparkles, but why Rosenberg chose Jon Bennett, the most wooden of the bunch, as his main man is beyond me.

This is a book that is friendly to America, Israel and Christianity. Though Rosenberg handles the theme of having a personal faith in Jesus with subtlety, it comes through in the words and actions of the President and the main female character.

Another theme that pervades the book is Rosenberg’s obvious delight in food. From hamburgers consumed on the run to spicy roast lamb dinners served in exotic middle-eastern settings, his luscious descriptions of cuisine of all types practically jump off the page.

This Clancy-type thriller will probably keep you riveted into the night – though I can’t guarantee you won’t experience the occasional temptation to get up and check what’s to eat in your fridge.

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Watch his interview with 100 Huntley Street (October 2007), where he tells the story of how The Last Jihad, which was his first novel and spent 11 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, came to be written.

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