STATE OF THE UNION by David Callahan


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 Clunky Clancy-esque government insider tale of an attempted Washington coup d'etat and the brooding Green Beret who stops it, by a former US foreign-policy analyst. After a well-received biography of Cold Warrior Paul Nitze (Dangerous Capabilities, 1990) and a foreign policy primer (Between Two Worlds, not reviewed), this fictional turn from Callahan, resident scholar at the Twentieth Century Fund, suffers from tediously predictable plotting and prose that begs for a salvo of editorial smart bombs: The desirable gal Friday of one of the book's half-dozen villains ``slung barbs with pursed lips and responded to attacks with either slashing wit or feminine pouting. Everything about her was inviting.'' Special Forces Lieutenant Zach Turzin, having just won the Congressional Medal of Honor for leading a commando raid into Iraq, is recruited to the staff of Admiral Jeff Forsten, the blustering, right-wing vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff whose spirited lust for combat during the Vietnam War cloaks a history of covert heroin smuggling and arms trading. Forsten introduces Turzin to Douglas Sherman, a wealthy, failed presidential candidate whose shadowy relations with Hong Kong businessman Donald Chen and terrorist chieftan Sheik Abdul Tabrata would make any remotely intelligent American officer quit the corps. Persuading himself that these just might be decent fellows, Turzin, who gets nightmares about his best buddy's tragic death back in Iraq, beds Justine, Sherman's barb-slinging mistress, while, in Oman, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs is murdered in an apparent terrorist attack. Hoping to disprove nasty rumors about Forsten's complicity, Turzin finds Forsten and company heading a complicated conspiracy aimed at wiping out most of the executive and legislative branches of government by blowing up the Capitol during the State of the Union address. Cautionary, ineptly written Pentagon procedural weighed down by flabby characterizations, limp dialogue, and a pile of mangled corpses. (Film rights to MGM)

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1997
ISBN: 0-316-12490-7
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1997


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