THE TOWER OF BABEL by Morris L. West


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Morris West's seventh novel is a story of Middle Eastern intrigue and espionage paralleling in all its sinuousness the crisis events of early 1967. The rather mechanical plot, carefully worked out in most respects (there are occasional slips) is concerned with the interlocking fates of several diverse characters who serve as mouthpieces for varying points of view. There is Jakov Baratz, Chief of Israeli Military Intelligence, a pragmatist with a nagging conscience; his chief agent Adom Ronan, an Iraqi posing in Damascus as a trader, transmitting high level information for Israel; Omar Safreddim, head of the Syrian security police; a revolutionary zealot whose exposure of Ronan's network is only a matter of time; Nuri Chakry, a Lebanese banker whose services are available to the highest bidder; and his frontman Mark Matheson, an American who serves as Chakry's cover of respectability. The novel begins with a border incident which Israel must avenge and ends with the Israeli reprisal which will become a full-blown confrontation in the UN and on the desert. What can be said about a Morris West novel grooved almost by virtue of its timing alone towards bestsellerdom? Easy to read, easy to forget. Written to formula, devoid of inspiration. Coated over with a shopworn eloquence which only serves to undermine the author's long-standing and convincing moral concerns.

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 1967
Publisher: Morrow