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State of Fear Mass Market Paperback – Print, October 25, 2005
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The Amazon Book Review
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“Provocative and controversial. [Crichton] marries compelling subject matter with edge-of-your-seat storytelling.” (USA Today)
“In STATE OF FEAR, Michael Crichton delivers a lightning-paced technopolitical thriller...every bit as informative as it is entertaining.” (Wall Street Journal)
“Fascinating for how Crichton was trying to make the very absence of fear spooky.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“There’s no one else like him…a fast, fun read.” (Weekly Standard)
“This is definitely one for the Christmas list.” (National Review)
“He imparts science while entertaining readers.” (Denver Post)
“STATE OF FEAR is a valuable education in the guise of entertainment. Do yourself a favor and buy it.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
“The thrills of Crichton’s latest are interspersed with fascinating facts and data. Perhaps his most serious and important book yet.” (Booklist)
“STATE OF FEAR is Michael Crichton’s best.” (Bookreporter.com)
“Michael Crichton’s new book will appeal to your inner techie.” (Washington Post Book World)
About the Author
Michael Crichton (1942—2008) was the author of the groundbreaking novels The Andromeda Strain, The Great Train Robbery, Jurassic Park, Disclosure, Prey, State of Fear, and Next, among many others. His books have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide, have been translated into thirty-eight languages, and have provided the basis for fifteen feature films. He was the director of Westworld, Coma, The Great Train Robbery and Looker, as well as the creator of ER. Crichton remains the only writer to have a number one book, movie, and TV show in the same year.
Top customer reviews
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Reading State of Fear, I found myself confounded by the point of view that began to dominate, that of skepticism regarding the global warming and environmental points of view that I had always more or less taken for granted. Surely Michael Crichton is not suggesting that Global Warming is not a Real Threat?? Can it be??
Well, it's not quite that simple, but first let me comment to the book itself. It's a good read, beginning seemingly as a 'good guy' vs 'bad guy' story with the corporate interests playing the expected role as 'bad guys', but early on there are questions raised about whether or not the bad guys are in fact the corporate interests, or if they are in fact the environmental interests, or are they both equally 'bad'. And then along the way, in the discussions that take place between the characters as they discuss the environmental movement and whether or not it is solidly based on real science and actual data, there is a good amount of real data included, for example charts of the warming trends of cities throughout the world, that do not present the expected evidence of a general warming trend. Is this real data, or something fabricated to support the story? The truth is not fully clear until the book is completed and the afterward is read (Crichton calls it his 'Author's Message' and in two or three pages he lays out very clearly his point of view with respect to the environmental movement and global warming, and it is quite interesting to read).
He also substantiates the data provided throughout the book, and the conclusions he presents in his 'Author's Message', as well as the astonishingly thorough and diverse listing of references that are provided, are such that I have to feel that there is something serious here that merits thoughtful reflection.
If nothing else, it is that afterword, written by Crichton to give his own point of view, that is worth reading. I am appending it here to my review, confident that I am not violating any copyright restrictions since Crichton's own website also offers it for anyone to read.
This is a book that is both entertaining, and as well it is unexpected and thought provoking.
I am still not sure what to make of it.
Michael Crichton's 'Author's Message' from the book State of Fear:
A novel such as State of Fear, in which so many divergent views are expressed, may lead the reader to wonder where, exactly, the author stands on these issues. I have been reading environmental texts for three years, in itself a hazardous undertaking. But I have had an opportunity to look at a lot of data, and to consider many points of view. I conclude:
- We know astonishingly little about every aspect of the environment, from its past history, to its present state, to how to conserve and protect it. In every debate, all sides overstate the extent of existing knowledge and its degree of certainty.
- Atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing, and human activity is the probable cause.
- We are also in the midst of a natural warming trend that began about 1850, as we emerged from a four-hundred-year cold spell known as the "Little Ice Age."
- Nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be a natural phenomenon.
- Nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be man-made.
- Nobody knows how much warming will occur in the next century. The computer models vary by 400 percent, de facto proof that nobody knows. But if I had to guess-- the only thing anyone is doing, really-- I would guess the increase will be 0.812436 degrees C. There is no evidence that my guess about the state of the world one hundred years from now is any better or worse than anyone else's. (We can't "assess" the future, nor can we "predict" it. These are euphemisms. We can only guess. An informed guess is just a guess.)
- I suspect that part of the observed surface warming will ultimately be attributable to human activity. I suspect that the principal human effect will come from land use, and that the atmospheric component will be minor.
- Before making expensive policy decisions on the basis of climate models, I think it is reasonable to require that those models predict future temperatures accurately for a period of ten years. Twenty would be better.
- I think for anyone to believe in impending resource scarcity, after two hundred years of such false alarms, is kind of weird. I don't know whether such a belief today is best ascribed to ignorance of history, sclerotic dogmatism, unhealthy love of Malthus, or simple pigheadedness, but it is evidently a hardy perennial in human calculation.
- There are many reasons to shift away from fossil fuels, and we will do so in the next century without legislation, financial incentives, carbon-conservation programs, or the interminable yammering of fearmongers. So far as I know, nobody had to ban horse transport in the early twentieth century.
- I suspect the people of 2100 will be much richer than we are, consume more energy, have a smaller global population, and enjoy more wilderness than we have today. I don't think we have to worry about them.
- The current near-hysterical preoccupation with safety is at best a waste of resources and a crimp on the human spirit, and at worst an invitation to totalitarianism. Public education is desperately needed.
- I conclude that most environmental "principles" (such as sustainable development or the precautionary principle) have the effect of preserving the economic advantages of the West and thus constitute modern imperialism toward the developing world. It is a nice way of saying, "We got ours and we don't want you to get yours, because you'll cause too much pollution."
- The "precautionary principle," properly applied, forbids the precautionary principle. It is self-contradictory. The precautionary principle therefore cannot be spoken of in terms that are too harsh.
- I believe people are well intentioned. But I have great respect for the corrosive influence of bias, systematic distortions of thought, the power of rationalization, the guises of self-interest, and the inevitability of unintended consequences.
- I have more respect for people who change their views after acquiring new information than for those who cling to views they held thirty years ago. The world changes. Ideologues and zealots don't.
- In the thirty-five-odd years since the environmental movement came into existence, science has undergone a major revolution. This revolution has brought new understanding of nonlinear dynamics, complex systems, chaos theory, catastrophe theory. It has transformed the way we think about evolution and ecology. Yet these no-longer-new ideas have hardly penetrated the thinking of environmental activists, which seems oddly fixed in the concepts and rhetoric of the 1970s.
- We haven't the foggiest notion how to preserve what we term "wilderness," and we had better study it in the field and learn how to do so. I see no evidence that we are conducting such research in a humble, rational, and systematic way. I therefore hold little hope for wilderness management in the twenty-first century. I blame environmental organizations every bit as much as developers and strip miners. There is no difference in outcomes between greed and incompetence.
- We need a new environmental movement, with new goals and new organizations. We need more people working in the field, in the actual environment, and fewer people behind computer screens. We need more scientists and many fewer lawyers.
- We cannot hope to manage a complex system such as the environment through litigation. We can only change its state temporarily-- usually by preventing something-- with eventual results that we cannot predict and ultimately cannot control.
- Nothing is more inherently political than our shared physical environment, and nothing is more ill served by allegiance to a single political party. Precisely because the environment is shared it cannot be managed by one faction according to its own economic or aesthetic preferences. Sooner or later, the opposing faction will take power, and previous policies will be reversed. Stable management of the environment requires recognition that all preferences have their place: snowmobilers and fly fishermen, dirt bikers and hikers, developers and preservationists. These preferences are at odds, and their incompatibility cannot be avoided. But resolving incompatible goals is a true function of politics.
- We desperately need a nonpartisan, blinded funding mechanism to conduct research to determine appropriate policy. Scientists are only too aware whom they are working for. Those who fund research-- whether a drug company, a government agency, or an environmental organization-- always have a particular outcome in mind. Research funding is almost never open-ended or open-minded. Scientists know that continued funding depends on delivering the results the funders desire. As a result, environmental organization "studies" are every bit as biased and suspect as industry "studies." Government "studies" are similarly biased according to who is running the department or administration at the time. No faction should be given a free pass.
- I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.
- I personally experience a profound pleasure being in nature. My happiest days each year are those I spend in wilderness. I wish natural environments to be preserved for future generations. I am not satisfied they will be preserved in sufficient quantities, or with sufficient skill. I conclude that the "exploiters of the environment" include environmental organizations, government organizations, and big business. All have equally dismal track records.
- Everybody has an agenda. Except me.
The book addresses a current real-world issue, global warming. The storyline of this book is written is such a manner as to give the reader a prospective on both sides of the issue; that is to say the position that man's actions are the actual cause and effect of global warming as opposed to the position that global warming is, in fact, a natural process in which man cannot stop and has no control over. After reading this book you will, more than likely, develop an alternate perspective on the subject as opposed to what you currently believe.
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