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Enemies Foreign and Domestic Perfect Paperback – December 1, 2003
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John Ross' review of Enemies Foreign And Domestic I have several complaints about most thriller novelists. First, their protagonists are too often 100% virtuous with no humanizing flaws. Second, the protagonists let their enemies live when you KNOW the bad guys are going to come back and murder their kids etc. Third, everything the government does (hi-tech weapons, military & police tactics, criminal investigations, etc.) functions flawlessly. Fourth, too many stories have all the brilliant thinking and brave actions done by government employees (Special Forces, policemen, Intelligence operatives, etc.) Lastly, some novels have a basic premise that is just not believable. (Clancy's RAINBOW SIX is a prime example.) Novelist Matthew Bracken has avoided these sins almost entirely in his excellent debut novel ENEMIES FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC. It is a challenge for any writer to come up with a plot that is at once plausible enough to have the reader accept it but also unlikely enough that it has not actually happened yet in real life. EFAD's dramatic concept is this: Wally Malvone, a lone mid-level ATF executive, engineers (with one accomplice) a long-range shooting into a football stadium and successfully arranges for an addled, destitute veteran to take the blame and be killed in the process. Malvone does this because he needs an emergency that will encourage the President to embrace a plan he has put together: Forming a secret "hit squad" comprised of overaggressive ATF agents with disciplinary problems. This squad's duty is to be proactive: identify domestic terrorists ("militia members") and kill them during raids. The trial is in the media, when the cameras see the (planted) contraband retrieved from the slain terrorist's dwelling. Malvone wants to have this hit squad for the obvious reasons: funding, power, and prestige. Naturally, some of the victims drawn into Malvone's web of treachery decide they have no choice but to fight back. At each point in the storyline, as the good guys and bad guys acted and reacted, I kept asking myself if what was happening was plausible. How would *I* rewrite it to make it more believable? In some cases I thought that I would have had the parties react a bit differently, but I had to admit my alternate scenario was not necessarily more likely. The fact is that when you get into the realm of serious, institutionalized government abuse of power in an environment with lots of resourceful, angry, well-armed people and the near-instant information flow of the Internet, you're in uncharted waters. One critic said the female lead was an adolescent fantasy (21 years old, beautiful, motorcycle rider, expert shot, virgin) and I would have given her more edginess, but hey, a lot of readers like their heroes untainted. Anyway, EFAD is an action-packed read, with most of the skill and creativity being demonstrated by the private sector, which is IMO 100% realistic. Send a copy to your favorite Senator or Congressman... EFAD is also good inspiration for me to get back to work on DETOUR, the sequel to UC. No promises, except there should be something in it to offend just about everyone. John Ross, author of "Unintended Consequences" January 2004 --John Ross, author of "Unintended Consequences" January 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
What this book is not about are comic-book, unstoppable heroes. The author imbues his characters with the flaws that all of us posess to one degree or another - fear, doubt, uncertainty, the pull of the path of least resistance and the comfortable life versus the hard and often unrewarding road of the correct moral choice. Bracken uses his characters to explore some of the very real moral dilemmas that many of us will face when the lines between good and evil are not as clearly drawn as we'd like. Those moral choices become even more difficult with the realization that some of those who swore an oath to protect us against "all enemies, foreign and domestic" have in fact become those very same enemies.
Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of this book is the authors unflinching take on the price that many of us will pay when civil disobedience turns to armed resistance. Freedom isn't cheap. In fact, if history's any indicator, it's going to get damned expensive.
Novelist Matthew Bracken has avoided these sins almost entirely in his excellent debut novel ENEMIES FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC.
It is a challenge for any writer to come up with a plot that is at once plausible enough to have the reader accept it but also unlikely enough that it has not actually happened yet in real life. EFAD's dramatic concept is this: A lone mid-level ATF executive engineers (with one accomplice) a tragic mass shooting incident and successfully arranges for an addled, destitute veteran to take the blame and be killed in the process.
He does this to create an emergency that will encourage the President to embrace a plan he has put together: Forming a secret "hit squad" comprised of overaggressive ATF agents with disciplinary problems. This squad's duty is to be proactive: identify domestic terrorists ("militia members") and kill them during raids. The trial is in the media, when the cameras see the (planted) contraband retrieved from the slain terrorist's dwelling. The antagonist wants to have this hit squad for the obvious reasons: funding, power, and prestige.Read more ›
And I really mean it when I stress the "yet"; I remember reading Tom Clancy's "Debt Of Honor" almost ten years ago, and not really believing someone would fly a plane into a building as a way to commit murder.... and in his latest novel, he has terrorists wiping out the unarmed crowds in shopping malls. It hasn't happened - yet.
Then I look at the Democratic Underground, Handgun Control Inc., Senator Feinstein - yeah, this could really happen. There are people out there serious (or seriously deranged) enough to make this believable.
Good wakeup call for those not already aware of what's slowly but surely happening today in our country.
But treating it as a work of fiction - albeit an extremely important one - I'll give it 4.5 stars (I rounded up). The characters are as real as those in any other novel and the book itself is hard to put down. The author either did some serious research or else he's an expert in quite a few categories, I found very little technically to complain about. The use of thinly disguised real names and products added immensely to the enjoyment. It's more than good enough to read even without the underlying message.
If only we could find a way to get the gun fearing/grabbing portion of the population to read this. If you do enough research, you'll realize that this is why the 2nd Amendment was put in the Constitution. Unfortunately, I fear that only those who already support it will be reading this book - but I beg those who don't to read it, and try looking from a different point of view; the one held by 80 million Americans who realize guns are not evil, but some people are.
I'm anxiously awaiting a sequel.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love this book. It reads like many current events. I fear this will become a reality.Published 46 minutes ago by Justin R. Volkman
Each book of this trilogy is great, as a whole, the best of this genre that I have yet to read--it is almost prophetic (as it was written a few years ago).Published 1 day ago by JED
Scary how Bracken has it down. Great read on all levels and you might learn something as well. Highly recommended!Published 1 day ago by francis
Story moves well and mirrors current affairs even though it was written in 2003.Published 5 days ago by Joe DeFrank
It's been a while since I read the book . I was impressed with the writing and the content so close to the truth .Published 7 days ago by Kirk
A good read...a bit dated but it holds up well. If you revere the constitution and fear where America is going this will give you chills. I literally couldn't stop reading it.Published 9 days ago by Joel E. Hamby
Solid concept, some parts read a bit slow but I really respect the spirit of the book and what the author is trying to accomplish / reveal with this book / seriesPublished 17 days ago by Eric Blair
A rather convincing portrayal of the prevailing mindset of the political class in the West, and of a possible violent reaction to it. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Makitius