A short break
Reviewed by Isabel Lyman
To travel to President George W. Bush's inauguration, I boarded a comfy train in western Massachusetts on a snowy Friday afternoon. By the time I reached the nation's capital, I had perused several magazines, eaten a few snacks, endured the long-winded cell phone conversation of a fellow passenger, chatted with a friendly seatmate, and read a compact political thriller.
The thriller -- The Unquenchable Thirst -- features a two-term, scandal-plagued president of the United States who is married to a standoffish, ambitious woman. (Gee, that sounds familiar.) The first lady, however, is no aspiring senator, but the current president-elect who can hardly wait to take over the West Wing. The future first husband, meanwhile, is not spending his final days in the Oval Office handing out pardons to crooks or making dates with tarts. This chief executive -- with the help of a corrupt aide -- is preoccupied with concocting a horrific, Timothy McVeigh-like disaster, the aftermath of which will allow him to remain in office. The scheme calls for millions of Americans -- and probably a few illegals -- to perish in the country's centers of finance, technology, and government power.
Michael John Howard's tale is a fast read; it is only 127 pages long. That's too short for readers who want their political intrigues to be on the epic scale of those crafted by a Larry Bond or a Tom Clancy. Big, fat books with complex plots and subplots and heroic characters are all the rage in this particular genre. This paperback is written for folks who are content being entertained by simply-crafted stories or don't like to read much. Like my son.
I handed The Unquenchable Thirst to my fifteen-year-old for a homeschooling assignment and asked him to write the requisite book report. He noted that he enjoyed the book's realistic plot because the bad guy won. (What can I say? Boys will be boys.) His main complaint was that the ending was too abrupt. More details, please.
My son's positive reaction to the book gave me an idea that I'll take the liberty of airing. Author Howard should consider eliminating the smattering of profanity, do the needed copy editing (several quotation marks were in the wrong places, for instance), add a more satisfying ending, and then shop his revised version around to curriculum distributors. Educators are always searching for material for their hard-to-please charges and a political drama would be an interesting addition to an American Government or a literature class. Follow-up with a lively discussion on character, leadership, and the U.S. Constitution and -- voila -- a good time will have been had by all.
Izzy Lyman, author of The Homeschooling Revolution, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To buy The Unquenchable Thirst at Amazon.com for only $9.95, click here.
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