December 10, 2007, - 9:47 am
“Stone Cold” Stupid: Best-Selling Thriller Novelist Asks Us to “Understand” Islamic Terrorists, Gets it Wrong
By Debbie Schlussel
If you’re a fan of best-selling crime-thriller novelist David Baldacci, perhaps it’s time to rethink that. I’ve written about so many thriller novelists who insidiously include their liberal, pan-Islamist views (here and here) in what are supposed to be light, entertaining mysteries. Add Baldacci to that slobbering pile.
Today’s USA Today has a gushing page-long piece about him that is, well, enlightening. Aside from having two bad former Presidents–Bill Clinton & George H.W. Bush–and lots of federal law enforcement agents as fans, he buys into long ago disproven myth that Muslims only commit terrorism because of lack of economic opportunity. And he thinks HAMAS-, Castro-, and Arafat-fan/conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone is “courageous.” So courageous, he named the recurring hero of some of his books after Stone.
You see, Baldacci doesn’t really believe there are good guys and bad guys (like most liberals). He believes in the moral equivalency of them both. Sadly, with these views, he’s a consultant to the federal government on potential terrorist plots.
Baldacci regurgitates his strange views as propaganda inside his novels. Do his readers buy his propaganda? Probably, since he’s already got two former Commanders-in-Chief buying what he’s pimping:
In 1999, then-President Clinton named Baldacci’s The Simple Truth his favorite book of the year. In a recent e-mail to USA TODAY, Clinton wrote: “I love David Baldacci’s books, the dizzying plot twists, the evocative scenes, the compelling characters. His books are riveting thrillers that also enable readers to learn something about important subjects.”
Says former president and ex-CIA director Bush in an e-mail: “David Baldacci is a valued friend. I read every book he writes and love them all. He is the master of the suspenseful plot.” . . .
“I’d read a lot of thrillers about politicians and presidents,” Baldacci says, “but never one where you flip the stereotypes and make good people bad and bad people good.”
Fourteen best sellers later, Baldacci remains a publishing powerhouse. Fifty million copies of his books are in print worldwide. Stone Cold (Grand Central, $26.99), his newest thriller, and Simple Genius, published in April, entered USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list at No. 2, his highest debuts. (Stone Cold is now No. 21.) . . .
Baldacci has nurtured sources he’s too discreet to name and who have shared with him information he would never reveal. “People who have expertise just love to share it. That’s human nature.”
He counts former and active Secret Service agents, ex-Marines, a former member of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, a former attorney general, a former Homeland Security chief and several former presidents among his sources.
“Once you gain their confidence and trust, they’re pretty open about how they do their job or how their agency functions or doesn’t function, the constraints they feel. I’ve never asked for classified information,” Baldacci says. “People have given me classified information, but always with the disclaimer ‘This can never end up in a book.’ And it never does.”
Margaret Moore, a retired agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and co-founder of WIFLE (Women in Federal Law Enforcement), says she finds Baldacci’s novels realistic. In fact, a recurring character in some of his books is a member of WIFLE. [DS: Oh, the same group that had "law enforcer" Julie L. Myers, The ICE Princess, as its keynote speaker at a waste-of-time convention, where they paid Baldacci to speak to them. Great for the women on "The View" and watchers of "Oprah." For the rest of us, who cares?] . . .
Through the years, his reputation and popularity have made research much easier. “Now I have agencies call me up,” he says. “They want me to come in and talk to them and write about them in my books.”
Recently, he met with representatives of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which runs the U.S. spy satellite network. . . .
He’s also among a handful of authors and screenwriters – including Brad Meltzer (The Book of Fate) and David DeBatto (co-author with Pete Nelson of CI:Homeland Threat) – who have been asked to develop doomsday scenarios for government analysis.
Three years ago, he was contacted by a contractor working for Homeland Security. “I was asked, ‘How would you blow up the Super Bowl?’ and my task was to come up with a way to do it, send it to them and they would reverse-engineer it. They would figure out a way to make sure it could never happen.” . . .
Stone Cold is the third in Baldacci’s Camel Club series. Like most of his novels, it takes place in and around Washington and involves corruption at high government levels. The Camel Club, led by ex-CIA assassin Oliver Stone, is a “ragtag regiment” of conspiracy theorists who covertly work to keep the government accountable.
Baldacci named his character for film director Oliver Stone, whose controversial movies include JFK. “It was a perfect name for him to take,” Baldacci says. “My Oliver Stone is a big-time conspiracy theorist who doesn’t trust anybody. So I thought it would be a tip of the hat.” Baldacci says he admires Stone’s movies because “they take a position, they’re courageous and they stir up controversy. And that’s never a bad thing.” . . .
“Someone asked me one time, ‘How cynical are you about the U.S. government on a scale of 1 to 10?’ I think my answer was 8.5 to 9.3,” Baldacci says. . . .
In 2005’s The Camel Club, the book that kicked off the series, Stone and followers try to stop a terrorist plot that could lead to a nuclear attack in the Middle East.
Baldacci says he received about 100 negative e-mails and several death threats from people (he never pursued their identities) who didn’t like the way his novel tried to understand the roots of terrorism.
“In The Camel Club, I had the audacity to make a complex issue complicated instead of very simple, black and white,” he says. “I posed the question, ‘Wouldn’t it be smart to understand why a normal person in the Middle East might become a terrorist?’ I was exploring things some people didn’t want explored. They wanted John Wayne.”
The roots of terrorism he explores in the novel include economic and social pressures faced by young Muslims.
Hmmm . . . Clearly this walking human conceit balloon doesn’t “understand” the “roots of terrorism” at all. He didn’t “explore” a thing about this. How does he explain away that Mohammed Atta and most of the 18 other hijackers came from wealthy, educated families? How does he explain away all of the wealthy, educated Palestinian homicide bombers. This myth has been exploded so many times, it’s amazing this thriller “genius” still believes in it. He’s the last one out. Please turn off the lights.
Because of early criticism, Baldacci was convinced The Camel Club would not be popular with the reading public, but it turned out to be his biggest seller in hardcover. . . .
“In every thriller written about Washington, particularly after 9/11, there are good guys and there are bad guys, and there’s no gray area at all,” Baldacci says. “Good guys kill all the bad guys, and they do it any way they can because that makes the world safer and better. That’s total BS, but it plays well to audiences.
“For me, the gray is where I live, and that’s the only reason I write books like this.” Those who fight for justice in his novels don’t always survive or win their battles. But critics and fans appear to like Baldacci’s less than black-and-white approach to good and evil.
Yes, for David Baldacci, there are no good guys–no hard-working federal agents trying to do their jobs without committing crime. And there are no bad guys. No Muslim terrorists are really bad because he “lives” in “the gray” fantasyland where they blow up 3,000 people not for Islamic jihad but because they couldn’t afford a pizza.
His success is just more proof of what they say about the birthrate of suckers. One hatched every minute.
With over 50 million copies of Baldacci novels in print, perhaps that birth-rate estimation is too conservative.
File Under: What Not To Buy Your Book-Loving Recipient for the Holidays
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