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The Increment: A Novel Paperback – May 3, 2010
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The New York Times bestseller: âA remarkably timely and pulse-quickening tale of deception, divided loyalty, and moral haziness.ââRaleigh News & ObserverHarry Pappas, chief of the CIAâs Persia House, receives an encrypted message from a scientist in Tehran. But soon the source of secrets from the Iranian bomb program dries up: the scientist panics; heâs being followed, but he doesnât know whoâs on to him, and neither does Harry. To get his agent out, Harry turns to a secret British spy team known as âThe Increment,â whose operatives carry the modern version of the double-O âlicense to kill.â But the real story is infinitely more complicated than Harry understands, and to get to the bottom of it he must betray his own country.
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The plot centers around two characters - an Iranian nuclear scientist that is disillusioned with the Iranian regime. The other character is a veteran CIA chief - the head of the Iranian desk.
Like I said, the book starts out very strong. I was intrigued by the characters, the situation and the backstory of the two main characters.
By the end of the first page I was convinced I was reading a 5 star book.
But, the characters started to change. They started acting differently. For example, the head of the CIA is a retired Admiral. He comes off as a principled, with-it kind of leader who is just out of his element when he's not commanding a ship. Fine. Later on, he has multiple scenes in which he just plays with toy ships rather than making decisions. He goes from being a leader to being a little boy. Other characters make similar shifts.
So, for the 2nd 100 pages I had determined that this was probably a 4 star book. Good, but not great.
Throw in the goofy technology (you cannot power an electronic device through radio waves, folks, if we could your cell phone would never run out of power), the satellite system that literally takes dozens of photos of ALL of Iran, including dumpy little towns that aren't even on the map (we photograph every square inch all day long and we don't know what's going on?), and the skimpy treatment of the special unit that the book is named after and...
well, the book degenerated to a 3 star piece of pulp fiction. Nothing special. It's a good airplane ride read.
Although the intricacies of the plot are well-crafted, the overall theme/moral echoes the passivism and isolationism of the far left--it's wrong to take any offensive actions to stop Iran (or, by inference, any other dangerous country) from developing a nuclear bomb by flexing America's might.
Moreover, the author doesn't believe in America's exceptionalism as he paints the US leaders as dumb in comparison to the Brits.
One has to wonder how a journalist of a major national publication, like Ignatius, can report "news" on a day-to-day basis harboring such strong animus toward our major institutions. Of course, the answer is he can't and that is why both the Washington Post and the New York Times consistently color their news from a left-wing perspective.
Finally, a journalist shouldn't get his facts wrong yet Ignatius lets his bias distort his presentation of the facts--for example he alleges that there was no connection between Iraq's Hussein and Al Qaida (a common left-wing myth) prior to our 2003 Iraq invasion, yet there are numerous documented contacts between the two parties as early as the mid-late 1990s.
So, if you are a peacenik and a liberal you probably will like this book. If you want a great story unadorned with political commentary, then "The Increment" is a big loser.