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The Shell Game Hardcover – January 22, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Sweetwater Books (January 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599550946
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599550947
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,110,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Even die-hard conspiracy theorists will be dubious about the sinister government-led plots that form the shaky foundation of this political thriller. Alten, best-known for his gory novels featuring giant prehistoric sharks (Meg; The Trench), goes well beyond the already far-fetched idea that the Bush administration let the devastating 9/11 attacks happen to further the neoconservative agenda of reshaping the Middle East. In 2012, with centrist conservative David McKuin in the White House, the federal government plots to detonate a nuclear bomb in a U.S. city and blame Iran as a cover to take out that country's radical leadership. Standing in the plotters' way is Ace Futrell, an energy expert whose murdered wife was possibly targeted by U.S. intelligence. An awkward mix of actual and fictional political figures (Hillary Clinton is still in the Senate in 2012, having lost the 2008 election to McKuin) doesn't make this paranoid and superficial book more plausible. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Steve Alten proves his versatility in his latest thriller THE SHELL GAME, a tour-de-force thriller tackling oil, politics, and the state of the world. Controversial, shocking, meticulously researched, and sure to raise many eyebrows in Washington, Alten has produced both a dazzling political thriller and to a cautionary tale for our times. Anyone interested in the labyrinthine world of politics, international gamemanship, and the control of oil in society needs to read this book. --James Rollins, New York Times bestseller of The Judas Strain

A nerve-wracking thriller about America's addiction to Middle Eastern sweet crude and the network of enablers who keep our dependent nation away from detox. --Kirkus Reviews

Whether you embrace it or refute it, The Shell Game cannot, and should not, be easily dismissed. This is Steve Alten s boldest, bravest book to date. He s fearless, in fact, and his skills as a storyteller have not dulled. The Shell Game leaves you shattered, angry, and demanding change. -Andrew Tallackson, Michigan City (Indiana) News-Dispatch entertainment editor

Action packed, intense, and politically probing, The Shell Game is an intriguing blend of fiction and nonfiction that will most certainly disturb the practitioners of the game, because it will make readers stop and think about American foreign policy in the oil-rich Middle East. --Richard Folsom, Washington Daily News

More About the Author

Steve Alten grew up in Philadelphia, earning his Bachelors degree in Physical Education at Penn State University, a Masters Degree in Sports Medicine from the University of Delaware, and a Doctorate of Education at Temple University. Struggling to support his family of five, he decided to pen a novel he had been thinking about for years. Working late nights and on weekends, he eventually finished MEG; A Novel of Deep Terror. Steve sold his car to pay for editing fees. On September (Friday) the 13th, 1996, Steve lost his general manager's job at a wholesale meat plant. Four days later his agent had a two-book deal with Bantam Doubleday.

MEG would go on to become the book of the 1996 Frankfurt book fair, where it eventually sold to more than a twenty countries. MEG hit every major best-seller list, including #19 on the New York Times list (#7 audio), and became a popular radio series in Japan.

Steve's second release, The TRENCH (Meg sequel) was published by Kensington/Pinnacle in 1999 where it also hit best-seller status. His next novel, DOMAIN and its sequel, RESURRECTION were published by St. Martin's Press/Tor Books and were runaway best-sellers in Spain, Mexico, Germany, and Italy, with the rights selling to more than a dozen countries.

Steve's fourth novel, GOLIATH, received rave reviews and was a big hit in Germany. It is being considered for a TV series. MEG: Primal Waters was published in the summer of 2004. A year later his seventh novel, The LOCH, hit stores -- a modern-day thriller about the Loch Ness Monster. Steve's eighth novel, The SHELL GAME, is about the end of oil and the next 9/11 event. The book was another NY Times best-seller, but the stress of penning this real-life story affected Steve's health, and three months after he finished the manuscript he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Steve's ninth novel, MEG: Hell's Aquarium, is considered to be the best of the best-selling MEG series. Steve says his best novel is GRIM REAPER: End of Days. The story, a modern-day Dante's Inferno, takes place in New York when a man-made plague strikes Manhattan. The release date was 10-10-10. His eleventh novel. PHOBOS: Mayan Fear is the third in the Domain series and will debut in the Fall of 2011 (Tor/Forge).

Steve's novels are action-packed and very visual. He has optioned DOMAIN, MEG and The LOCH to film producers. Steve has written six original screenplays. His comedy, HARLEM SHUFFLE was a semi-finalist in the LA screenwriting contest, his psychological thriller, STRANGLEHOLD, was selected as a finalist at the Philadelphia film festival and his reality series, HOUSE OF BABEL won at Scriptapalooza. He has also created a TV Drama, PAPA JOHN, based on his years coaching basketball with hall of Fame coach John Chaney.

Over the years, Steve has been inundated with e-mail from teens who hated reading ...until they read his novels. When he learned high school teachers were actually using his books in the classroom (MEG had been rated #1 book for reluctant readers) Steve launched Adopt-An-Author, a nationwide non-profit program designed to encourage students to read. Teachers who register for the program (it's free) receive giant shark posters, free curriculum materials, student-author correspondence, an interactive website, and classroom conference calls/visits with the author. To date, over 10,000 teachers have registered, and the success rate in getting teens to read has been unprecedented. Steve now spends half his work week working with high schools. For more information click on

As an author, Steve has two goals. First, to continue to work hard to become a better storyteller and create exciting page turning thrillers. Second, to remain accessible to his readers. Steve reads and answers all e-mails, uses the names and descriptions of his loyal fans as characters in all his novels, and even hires readers as editors, depending on their particular expertise.

For more information, contact the author at
or go to

Customer Reviews

This is an incredible novel, Steve Alten has done it again.
This book is the most important book yet written with regard to where this country is being led by its own government.
S. J. Santa
I know this is speculative fiction but it sure makes one think.
Konrad Kern

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Michael C. Ruppert on January 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Steve Alten clearly states that many of the factual threads running throughout "The Shell Game" were based upon the extensive research found in my book, "Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil". I actually didn't know about Shell Game until after it had been written, when Steve offered to send me a review copy. I am so glad he did.

My book is 600 pages of non-fiction with a thousand footnotes. It is in the Harvard Business School Library.

Steve's book is a gripping, fire-breathing, page-turning novel that the great Robert Ludlum would envy. Both books convey exactly the same message: that the world is running out of oil fast; that human civilization hangs in the balance; and that the US government used this crisis as a rationale for perpetrating the attacks of 9-11 and (very likely) attacks yet to come.

Why? The American people would never allow their sons and daughters to be used and sacrificed as bloody oil conquistadors unless we could call ourselves victims.-- We are victims, but not that kind.

Steve's absolute genius is in his ability to make the unpalatable irresistible. It lies also in his ability to separate research "ice cream" from research "bs". "Children", hucksters and some with more sinister motives have hijacked the so-called 9-11 "truth movement." That clear thinking is what makes "The Shell Game" slice through consciousness and reach the soul like a hot scalpel through butter. Steve takes us into a terrifying future as though he were reading a military GPS locator.

"The Shell Game" is a novel and a ticking time bomb for the psyche. It is the red pill from "The Matrix".
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn Sakai on February 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Despite the fact that this is a work of fiction, the basic facts of the story are based in reality, so it is possible that the events in this book may one day become fact.
Aside from that, it's extremely well written. I especially liked how the quotes at the beginning of each chapter were tied to the events that occured in that part of the book. What I found even more disturbing than the content of the book was the quotes from REAL PEOPLE!
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58 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Carol Liane Brouillet on January 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had a stack of books to read over the holidays and the most irresistable was The Shell Game by Steve Alten. While some might dismiss the book as a political fantasy, the drama struck me as painfully real, vital, urgent, and timely, given our current reality.

The book is laced with quotes from sources which question the official story of 9/11, and the action casts light on "the next 9/11, a nuclear 9/11," how to stop it, and and how to stop World War IV. There are villains and heroes, lovers, lies, children, insights into the mindset of the Neo-Cons who have been trying to dominate the planet for these past decades.

There are surprises, too. It is one of those very hard to put down sort of books, as you want to know - what will happen next, will the protagonist succeeed in the impossible task, who will live, who will die, and what will be humanity's fate.

The political becomes personal, and the personal political, and the stakes grow higher and higher. Whether a person lives or dies, their intentions and actions have tremendous consequences in The Shell Game, and I think in the current world that we live in. One person, waking up spiritually, politically, intellectually to the profound reality of the moment, and taking action can make a tremendous difference.

What I love about The Shell Game is the evolution of the main characters who are transformed by their own very personal understanding of political events, events which they themselves participated in. Not all the "evil villains" become "good guys" and there are those who steadfastedly continue to lie to themselves and others.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By david kubiak on January 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Just finished this incredibly addictive and reality-driven thriller and recommend it highly, indeed urgently, to anyone who cares about the corporatist/neocon hijacking of our country.

The Shell Game offers the action-packed pace, suspense and relentless intelligence of the best Clancy and le Carre novels, and backgrounds the entire tour de force with a devastatingly detailed probable cause argument for indictment and impeachment of the current administration. Rarely has a work of "fiction" exposed so much hidden history that could/should trigger a cleansing political upheaval in national consciousness today.

The plot is built around an artfully crafted false flag operation set several years in the future that is designed to complete America's transition from a democratic republic to an authoritarian police state. Besides providing some dazzling insights into terror engineering and the politics of fear, the story compiles a damning dossier on most of the crimes and criminals that have served this cause thus far. Finally it illuminates not just the political and societal risks of our accelerating corporate coup d'état, but also the global environmental catastrophes it is precipitating as well.

If you ever wanted an exciting painless way to learn a lot of new, sobering and well-researched facts about 9/11, Peak Oil, resource wars, and the boundless cynicism of our coin-operated politicians, this is the book you've been waiting for. Or if you are really post-literate, I suppose you could just wait a little longer and see what George Clooney or Sean Penn does with it on the big screen.
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