While writing this review, I would be amiss to not mention Heinlein’s “Puppet Master’s” which preceded it, or the 3 direct interpretations that followed it in the late 50’s, 70’s and 90’s. Not to mention the uncountable knockoff’s, the good and bad, and homage’s that this book and the aforementioned titles, inspired. They gave voice to a growing paranoia that was beginning to be understood in the 50’s with the cold war heating up. It asked such questions as, can you trust your neighbor? Can you trust your family and friends? Are they who they say they are? Are YOU who you say you are? Deeper than McCarthyism and the Red Scare, in spite of itself or with full intention, this pulp novel dug its heels into its subject matter and tackled such ideas the only way good sci-fi can, through speculation.
In listening to 6 plus hours straight through I was impressed with this overall. There are minor quibbles that must be mentioned, that it does have some weaker moments and may drag a little. It must also be said this was published in 1955 and is dated a bit, in tone, (the same can be said of "War of the Worlds" for example). One must expect that. The characters can be seen as being 1 dimensional and the main character makes leaps in logic that make little sense, or the opposite and not putting 2 and 2 together faster. These are very minor narrative criticisms, despite these, the novel flows well and has a surprisingly fast pace to it. The Narrator also is spot on and keeps your attention riveted. A very minor complaint is that he can, momentarily, be “overenthusiastic” and can be quite excitable, but still a very good narration.
I would recommend this as a paranoia suspense sci-fi thriller and a study of the Pulp 1950’s era that is still with us today and just as relevant but keep in mind the minor flaws
Enjoyable listen overall.
The Manchurian Candidate, published in 1959 is as relevant as it was than as it is now. Dealing with political manipulation and spy thriller, Richard Condon weaves a tight human drama against the backdrop of political espionage and intrigue. The characters are developed in three dimensions, even Raymond’s mother, who is in competition as the worst mother of all time, has sympathetic moments. You also get the sense of Greek tragedy and a psychological study through Raymond’s 9 year ordeal during the political rise of his family. Condon also does something very smart and mentions no political affiliation of any character (although it is somewhat alluded to) and although his allusion to McCarthyism was a main focal point and quite apparent, it still has scary similarities to today’s world of talking heads in the media and political world. Like “1984” before it, “The Manchurian Candidate” will always serve as a warning about the trust we put in our elected officials and to whom their true motivation lies.
The narration is strong and keeps your interest throughout.
Highly recommended as one of the best political thrillers of the past 60 years.
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