There were many characters and turns of phrase that I hoped to remember as I listened to this beautifully written book. However, the insight, humor and beauty of the prose were not enough to make up for the maddeningly slow unfolding of the story. If Kesey had been forced to make the book half as long, I think it would be a masterpiece. As it is, it came across as an author in love with his admittedly outstanding ability to describe character, scene and emotion. The story was secondary.
The performance of the book is outstanding.
The premise of the novel is interesting- the secret development of Iran's nuclear weapons program and the U.S. efforts to stop it. However, the author's pro-Christian bias creates a plot and events that are unrealistic and preposterous. Iran's top Muslim cleric secretly converts to Christianity after reading parts of the Bible. Other Muslims also convert after seeing visions of Jesus. However, readers are supposed to believe similar visions of the 12th Imam are tricks of the devil. Further indication of this bias is in the citations at the end of the book. All sections of the Bible are properly attributed to the edition and publisher from which they came. However, the author makes no citations for the many sections of the Koran that are used within the book.
Even putting aside the religious bias, the book is poorly written. The character's motivations are often unbelievable. For example, the main character's major life choices are driven by a one week encounter with a girl when he was 14. Another character, despite being a successful and intelligent official in the CIA ignores obvious and clear warnings given to him by his operatives. The plot is also seriously flawed. Whenever the main character is in a seemingly impossible situation, Jesus steps in and gives someone a vision or performs a miracle rather than the character working his way out of the problem. The book ends just before the climax of the plot, leaving all of the issues raised in the book unanswered. The chapters seem to end at random points. Several chapters ended in the middle of a conversation. The next chapter would start without a break in time, setting or topic.
The narrator was decent, except that his German accent was identical to the accents of the Farsi and Arabic speaking characters.
This book is not worth your time.
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