This book is well-written (and narrated), with the kind of investigative breadth that left me feeling as if I had actually been able to briefly glimpse many sides of the issue: the mentally ill, their loved ones, and the medical / mental health / law enforcement / social work / correctional systems.
However, I feel disturbed by the author's insistence on --- and one-sided justifications for --- the need for commitment law reform (i.e., the ability for a non-professional third-party to have someone involuntarily committed to a mental health facility), where he seems to argue in favor of removing controls which have been implemented in favor of civil rights. He focuses entirely on the negative consequences of these laws on the mentally ill, without giving even a nod to the fact that those laws are also in place to protect the non-mentally ill from being falsely committed.
Having intellectually struggled with issues of our current correctional / prison system, I keep coming to the same conclusion across a myriad of topics --- with freedom comes risk. This is true across criminal justice, social justice, medical / mental health, foreign policy, domestic security / counter-terrorism, etc.
If I want to be free from being falsely accused of mental illness and thrown into an asylum against my will, or charged as a terrorist under some blanket domestic security law (Patriot Act) and held indefinitely without any civil rights, or arrested for an activity newly criminalized (for the purpose of allowing our politicians to run on a "tough on crime" platform), then I have to assume the risk as a citizen. Which means living in a world where criminals are given the benefit of the doubt until proven guilty or let go, the mentally ill can avoid being involuntarily held / drugged unless they pose a threat to themselves / society, and social / political activists can speak their mind and cultivate dissent without fear of being thrown into a gulag by the police state. If I want to have those freedoms for myself, then I have to live in a society with criminal, mentally unstable, and controversial elements in my community. And if I want to solve those problems for myself and my loved ones, I have to do so at the family and community levels. However, it will NOT solve the problem to eliminate the civil rights of the mentally ill, because mental illness is simply a label and it can be applied to any one of us at any time. Decreasing their civil rights is the same as decreasing every American's civil rights.
This was pretty well paced and decently written for pop fiction; narration was good and I will probably listen to the next one to hear the story wrapped up.
My first attempt at Tom Clancy outside of the movie treatments, and I enjoyed the writing and narration enough to get the next one.
Even without expecting much, I was disappointed and stopped listening about 2 hours in. I might have pressed through if even marginally better story or narration, but the combined flaws of both made this a big miss and waste of money.
This story is a long-time favorite --- read a few times over the decades, but I was surprised to discover how the exceptional narration of Steven Weber gave me a whole new experience of the story. I'm inclined to say his is the best narration I've heard in nearly 100 audiobooks (both fiction and non), and his voice characterization is fearless.
I've written this, my first and only review, to say that Steven Weber should be contracted --- and paid anything he asks --- to read The Stand.
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