THE ENTERTAINMENT CRITIC BOOK REVIEW, BY JAMES MYERS
THE WHOLE TRUTH
By David Baldacci
Published by: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: April, 2008
Four Star Rating ****
BALDACCI RECEIVED A B.A. FROM VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY AND A LAW DEGREE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA. AS A STUDENT, BALDACCI WROTE SHORT STORIES IN HIS SPARE TIME, AND LATER PRACTICED LAW FOR NINE YEARS NEAR WASHINGTON, D.C.
WHILE LIVING IN ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA, BALDACCI WROTE SHORT STORIES AND SCREENPLAYS WITHOUT MUCH SUCCESS. IN DESPAIR, HE TURNED TO NOVEL WRITING, TAKING THREE YEARS TO WRITE ABSOLUTE POWER. IT TOOK BALDACCI TWO YEARS TO GET THE BOOK PUBLISHED, BUT WHEN IT FINALLY DID HIT THE SHELVES IN 1996 IT WAS AN INTERNATIONAL BEST SELLER.
IT WAS MADE INTO A FILM, ABSOLUTE POWER (1997), STARRING CLINT EASTWOOD AND GENE HACKMAN
BALDACCI HAS GONE ON TO PUBLISH FOURTEEN MORE NOVELS: TOTAL CONTROL, THE WINNER, THE SIMPLE TRUTH, SAVING FAITH, WISH YOU WELL, LAST MAN STANDING, THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN, SPLIT SECOND, HOUR GAME, CAMEL CLUB, THE COLLECTORS, SIMPLE GENIUS, STONE COLD, AND THE YOUNG ADULT NOVEL FREDDY AND THE FRENCH FRIES: FRIES ALIVE! HE HAS ALSO PUBLISHED A NOVELLA FOR THE DUTCH ENTITLED OFFICE HOURS, WRITTEN FOR THE NETHERLANDS' YEAR 2000 "MONTH OF THE THRILLER". BALDACCI ALSO AUTHORED A SHORT STORY, "THE MIGHTY JOHNS", AS PART OF A 2002 MYSTERY ANTHOLOGY.
BALDACCI HAS AUTHORED SEVEN ORIGINAL SCREENPLAYS, AND HIS WORKS HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED IN MAGAZINES, NEWSPAPERS, AND JOURNALS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. ALL OF HIS BOOKS HAVE BECOME NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLERS, TRANSLATED INTO OVER 37 LANGUAGES AND SOLD IN MORE THAN 85 COUNTRIES. OVER 40 MILLION COPIES OF BALDACCI'S BOOKS ARE IN PRINT WORLDWIDE.
DAVID BALDACCI SERVES AS A NATIONAL AMBASSADOR FOR THE NATIONAL MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SOCIETY AND PARTICIPATES IN NUMEROUS CHARITIES AS WELL AS FOUNDING HIS OWN FAMILY FOUNDATION FOR LITERACY, WISH YOU WELL FOUNDATION.
“AT PRECISELY ZERO HOURS UT, or midnight Universal Time, the image of the tortured man erupted onto the world’s most popular Web site.
The first six words he spoke would be remembered forever by everyone who heard them.
“I am dead. I was murdered.”
He was speaking Russian on the screen but at the bottom his tragic story was retold in virtually any language one desired with the press of a key. Secret Russian Federation police had beaten “confessions” of treason out of him and his family. He’d managed to escape and make this crude video.
Whoever held the camera had either been scared to death, drunk, or both, for the grainy film vibrated and shook every few seconds.
The man said if the video had been released that meant he’d been recaptured by government thugs and was already dead.
His crime? Simply wanting freedom.
“There are tens of thousands just like me,” he told the world. “Their bones lie heavy on the frozen tundra of Siberia and in the deep waters of Lake Balkhash in Kazakhstan. You will see evidence of this soon. There are others who will take up the fight now that I am gone.”
He warned that while the world had focused on the Osama bin Ladens of the world for so long, the old evil, with a destructive force a million times greater than the combined Islamic renegades, was clearly back, and deadlier than ever.
“It is time the world knew the whole truth,” he shouted at the camera, then broke down in tears.
“My name is Konstantin. My name was Konstantin,” he corrected. “It is too late for me and my family. We are all dead now. My wife, my three children, all gone. Do not forget me, and why I died. Do not let my family perish in vain.”
As the man’s image and voice faded from view, a mushroom cloud lit up the screen, and superimposed on the bottom of this horrifying visual was the ominous tagline: First the Russian people, then the rest of the world. Can we afford to wait? “
“Wars are the easiest things to start and the hardest things to end.”
---David Baldacci, The Whole Truth
The versatile David Baldacci is back with his new political thriller, The Whole Truth. This novel asks a unique question: What if the entire world, governments, leaders, and citizens around the globe were united on a crusade to stop an evil that doesn’t exist, was completely fabricated, and promulgated in a savvy public relations ploy through mass communications and the Internet. In his 15th legal thriller, Baldacci asks, how would we respond to an imaginary global crisis? Baldacci has elected to take us one step beyond 1984, by giving us a look behind the curtain at the wizard himself.
Nicholas Creed, owner and operator of the Ayres Corporation, is a billionaire military weapons manufacturer who has no boundaries for his ambitions. Creed wants to restructure the world in his own image, and he has the wealth, power and knowledge to do it. He can control world order by manipulating not only people, but entire countries. He wants to take the focus off the Mideast, and bring back The Cold War to put the world’s ire back where it belongs. He hires Dick Pender, former White House staffer and spinmaster, founder of Pender and Associates, a highly profitable perception magician who specializes in “perception management.” ("Dick, I need a war.") Perception management does not spin facts or stories; it prefers to manufacture the facts and sell them to the naïve public as true. ('Why waste time trying to discover the truth, when you can so easily create it?') Creed needs a war to boost sagging arms sales; Pender produces a fabricated “You Tube” type video, consisting of doctored news footage, and an actor, Konstantin, who claims thousands are being killed by a “Secret Russian Federation.” The actor on the video speaks, 'It is time the world knew THE WHOLE TRUTH.' The result is that the world condemns Russia as mass murderers. A build up of arms between Russia and China begins in earnest. The smear campaign works, enabling Creed to push and escalate an arms race, making his company wildly profitable.
Shaw, a mystery man with no past, working for a super secret agency of the US government, has lived many lives outwitting terrorists, drug lords, skinhead and international wrong doers. He is a James Bond-like figure, and Baldacci’s most intriguing character. As a hired gun, it is his job to find out who and what is behind this great fabrication. He works for this agency under duress (they’ve planted an explosive tracking device in his arm). He’d like to retire and settle down with his fiancee, Anna Fischer, who works for the Phoenix Group think tank. Unfortunately, the think tank is one of the pawns in the Creed/Pender network. The book really begins to heat up, when Anna sends an e-mail critical of the invented Russian story to an Internet blogger. By accident she has put her man into the dead center of this controversy. A team of supposed Russian hit men invade the Phoenix Group and kill everyone in the building --- including Anna. When Shaw learns of this, he re-ups with his agency and vows to find and destroy the people behind this massacre.
A fourth figure in this novel is Katie James, a journalist, who has written a story that turns out to be completely false, and return from Afghanistan an alcoholic barely able to handle her new assignment, the obit column. A two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner, disgraced and demoted, she is determined to get back into the limelight by landing a major story. Inadvertently, she stumbles on to an operation involving Shaw, who saves her life, but condemns her to life on the run with him. She may have finally found the biggest story of her life; that is if Shaw can keep them both alive. She and Shaw are on the run throughout the U.S. and Europe, just a half step ahead of the killers while trying to work out just what is the whole truth.
Baldacci’s tale is striking on several levels. Well written, great prose, spy-like dialogue and breathtaking suspense make this a great political thriller. The Shaw is a character we hope to see a lot more of. I get the feeling that Baldacci could create a whole series of thrillers around this guy.
Baldacci is the master of engrossing political tomes that are centered on frightening modern realities. The ease that the communications made through the ‘Net can be misused to mislead is a disturbing thought-provoking concept. Video is so easily distributed to your MySpace and Facebook pages, that mass movements, commercial and political, can be created overnight. No one is better at warning about the modern day Big Lie like David Baldacci. Big Brother meets You Tube in this one of kind international thriller. Bond and Bourne have nothing on Baldacci. This is an international spy thriller that you just cannot put down.