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A Talent For War Mass Market Paperback – June 29, 2004


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Ace (June 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441012175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441012176
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 0.9 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jack McDevitt is a former naval officer, taxi driver, customs officer and motivational trainer. He is a multiple Nebula Award finalist who lives in Georgia with his wife Maureen.


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Customer Reviews

The story itself is very good, with notable twists and turns as the events unfold.
Amazon Customer
Having recently re-read it as well as having read all of McDevitt's other published works, I do think this is his best book overall.
Woofdog
For the friend who loves reading, this is the best science fiction book to recommend.
Stephen D. Wallace

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 78 people found the following review helpful By themarsman on May 31, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A Talent for War presents an enjoyable trek through a future history...a history with it's own figure-heads and heroes, and shows us how those people actually were. McDevitt gives us the science fiction equivalent of taking us back to the American Revolution and putting us into the heads of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. McDevitt exquisitely executes this future history through the backdrop of the protagonist, Alex Benedict, and his search for the truth about what happened to the longterm exploratory ship Tenandrome. What did the crew find that they thought they had to erase all public records of the journey, and essentially swear themselves to silence about that journey.

McDevitt's only flaw in this book is that he seems to get sidetracked a bit with minutae...who said what at this meeting or that, who did what, where...etc. Some of this was clearly needed...but he goes overboard just a bit. This detracts from the story only a little though. Mostly, I just desperately wanted to find out the answers to the mysteries McDevitt poses. A Talent for War is a really good read, McDevitt's character analyses are dead-on and consequently he does a wonderful job of making you feel what the characters feel. As long as you enjoy good storytelling this book is highly recommended to anyone, period.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Fluxbyte on October 8, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
My personal experience of this novel has been similar to that expressed in 'Hrinwar's review. I can across it in a remainders bin in '94, one of my most fortunate finds ever. Since then I have read it pretty much every year, sometimes more. This is not from lack of other material to spend my time on but the levels that unravel as the story progresses, the sheer thrill of watching the clues come together, the intrigue built up around the historic mysteries, never fail to hold me entranced. I love this book and only wish others by the same author, or anyone else for that matter, could ignite my interest in the same way. However it would be an irrelevance to make comparisons with other works - put simply it is one of my most deeply held personal favourites and has stood the test of nine years repeated reading. A supreme example of a deeply satisfying reading experience.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 22, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've read alot of S.F. in my time from DUNE to THE GAP series, but A TALENT FOR WAR is my favourite. I picked my copy up in a nameless second hand bookstore in Sydney Australia before a long bus journey and read it twice before I arrived at my destination some 24 hours later. It is a human story, of heroism and sacrifice, set in the context of an historical detective story where the main character is thrust into a mystery that he must see through to its conclusion for his own peace of mind. The combination of fast packed action, mystery, romance and brilliant S.F. projections of where some of our latest technology could lead, has me going back again and again and again. The characters are human (for the most part)and admirable. Perhaps the feature that I admire most about this book and that keeps me coming back is that it keeps you thinking about the events that unfold within the pages well after the book is finished. You want to reread it to figure out another angle. This, coupled with terrific "Historical" battle descriptions and well written prose has me hooked. I'll leave this here....I must go and start it again....
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Woofdog on October 3, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this when it was reprinted a few years ago, presumably due to the planned publishing of the sequel, Polaris. At the time I noted the 1989 copyright, but didn't think much of it. Having recently re-read it as well as having read all of McDevitt's other published works, I do think this is his best book overall.

This is essentially detective science fiction, following 2 characters as they initially try to unravel a mystery left by a dead uncle, then find themselves embroiled in increasingly dangerous events dealing with a major historic military figure and the strong indications that known items of his and his followers' stories are in serious conflict with each other and/or the truth. Eventually this becomes a major discovery of previously undisclosed information with major political ramifications among other things, and Alec Benedict becomes the target of more than one adversarial party with motives to disrupt his investigation.

McDevitt used a couple of plot devices from this book almost verbatim in Polaris - aircar sabotage and a break-in to his house to find a specific item pertinent to the plot, but that counts against the sequel, not this story. I do think this is the best of the Benedict/Chase stories as well.

It is a great story, the protagonists are far from perfect, the clues didn't hook up for me easily the first time (major plot revelations were indeed surprises), and I wish the author still wrote books like this.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Arthur W. Jordin on September 7, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A Talent For War (1989) is the first SF novel in the Alex/Chase series. It has been two hundred years since the war between the Confederacy and the Ashiyyur and hostilities have begun once more. At home, the Capella failed to appear at Saraglia Station and is presumed lost without any survivors; while other liners have been lost in the past, the Capella is one of the largest and best equipped ships in the merchant fleet.

In this novel, Alex Benedict hears about the official loss while haggling over a collection of four thousand year old ceramic pots. About ten days afterward, Alex learns that Gabe Benedict, his uncle and foster father, was lost with the Capella. Alex receives two sponders from the law firm of Brimbury & Conn; playing the devices, he learns that Gabe had been investigating an incident that caused the Survey ship Tenandrome to return early from a voyage into the Veiled Lady nebula. Gabe had apparently talked with Hugh Scott from the Tenandrome. He also mentions Leisha Tanner and Ludik Talino.

Returning to Rimway, Alex contacts Brimbury & Conn to let them know that he is back in Andiquar, then takes a skimmer to Gabe's house, where Jacob -- a sophisticated data response network -- admits him. After a while, Jacob informs Alex that he doesn't directly remember their interactions since a breakin had resulted in the erasure of all his memories. Later Jacob provides Alex with information off the network on Leisha Tanner, who had served as intelligence chief for Christopher Sims during the Confederacy/Ashiyyur War.

Checking with Survey, Alex finds that the Tenandrome had a quick turnaround back to the field and that there is still an unusual amount of secrecy about the voyage within the organization.
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