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Publisher's Summary

Guy Carpenter has a prestigious job at NASA, a devoted wife and new baby, and, aside from a troublemaking cat, a settled, quiet life. But things take an unexpected turn when this regular guy finds himself mixed up in an international scandal of enormous proportions.

Years ago, Guy worked on the Superconducting Super Collider, a giant government project dedicated to detecting a tiny, elusive particle, the Higgs Boson. Wrangling in Congress shut the project down before it could succeed, but now the Chinese claim to have found the Boson. It is a discovery that sends the nation into a panic. How did the Chinese surpass American science? What about the horrific military implications of a Boson Bomb? Is it time to start casting Hollywood's first boson-based blockbuster? An expert is needed to assess the new threat to national security.

Guy is propelled into the center of the media blitz, his old love with a Chinese physicist resurfaces, a new romance with a beautiful Congresswoman beckons, and the breakup of his happy marriage threatens. In the meantime, Congress holds urgent hearings, Hollywood comes courting, the CIA is investigating, and an unctuous reporter dogs his every step.

Once again, Herman Wouk, the man the New York Times has called "a modern Charles Dickens," exercises his deep insight and considerable comic powers to give listeners a witty and keen satire about Washington, the media, and science, and what happens when these three great forces of American culture clash.

©2004 Herman Wouk (P)2004 Time Warner AudioBooks

Critic Reviews

"Playful, thoughtful, and passionate, this first novel by Wouk in 10 years will charm fans with its companionable warmth and wry humor." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

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  • Overall


My wife and I are Wouk fans, so we were looking forward to listening to this for our long drive over Memorial Day weekend. We got about 2 1/2 hours into it before we gave up. If you want more excitement, go home and clean your miniblinds, or wash out your furnace filters. This book may be unsafe to listen to while driving down the road as we did--you might fall asleep and run over someone. If you're lucky, you might hit the book editor, or perhaps the person from Publisher's Weekly who inexplicably described the book as "Playful, thoughtful, and passionate". The idea for the book wasn't bad, but, like a luxury car with four flat tires, it never gets going anywhere.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

So boring I couldn't finish

I knew that eventually I'd run into a book that I just didn't have the interest to finish. So far, my luck had been pretty good, but then I ran into "A Hole in Texas."

The book is interesting for the first hour or so, and then ... nothing happens. The main problem with the book as I see it is that the characters are flat, bland, undeveloped, and stay that way. If the main character suddenly threw an embolism and died I wouldn't feel so much as a pang of remorse.

The writing is fairly poor, although passable. There have been a few times where I've caught the author writing something that might work on paper, but certainly wouldn't work in a real conversation. For instance, to use another word for "cat" in order to avoid saying "cat" too many times in one sentence, the character refers to it as "the beast". C'mon...try saying that to a friend. Doesn't it seem awkward? Maybe that's just me.

Another problem is that there is NO tension driving this book along. There is no desire to see what happens next, so you won't be surprised when nothing ever happens. The threat of a boson bomb could have been a good one, but the threat in this book sounds like an academic one, as if we got a "B" on a test and China got an "A". Scary stuff.

In the end - or should I say at the midway point - this became the first book to put down before it's finished.

Try "A Game of Thrones" - which is absolutely INSANEly good. Now THAT book has tension & interesting characters a plenty.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

What book did the guy from Publishers Weekly read?

I sure wish I had read the previous two reviews of this book before I bought it. I can only soundly echo the one word description......BORING!!!!

My prior experiences with Herman Wouk and the Publisher's Weekly review convinced me that I had a winner here but that was wrong, wrong, wrong. The characters are totally uninteresting and Mr. Wouk seems only determined to showcase his superficial knowledge of physics for his readers.

Not worth one of your book credits!!

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good book for young innovative pioneers

I have to respectfully disagree with the current reviewers. As a person interested in physics, and concerned about how projects of this nature are funded, I found this an interesting book that should appeal to young adults exiting the 9th grade level. It contained a good mixture of scientific language, political wrangling for funds, and a touch of playful romantic manipulation with a minor hint of a thriller. All theses are components of the real world that play heavily on the international and political stage. Shows that good ideas don't achieve maturity for a variety of reasons. It implies you can endure some setbacks and still move forward in pursuit of the ultimate goal. It gives a young person a hint as to why countries like USA fall behind and then have to play catchup. Good book, well written and narrated for the individuals destined to shape our future.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Bob
  • Oregon, WI, USA
  • 07-05-04

Too Little Research

The concept sounded good. Unfortunately the concept and the characters had so little depth that none of it was believable. When I read a science based novel, I expect to learn a little about the science. That did not happen. The narrative about characters and what they said did not match. Guy Carpenter was supposed to be the great communicator, yet when he spoke to novices about technical topics he came off as condescending and patronizing. If the characters can't explain the science, it gives the impression that the author did not understand the topic either.

He was constantly name dropping. It seems to me that if you are going to name drop at least you owe us some special insight into the celebrity. In this case, the party could have been attended by a cardboard cut out.

I didn't even like the writing style. I tried to imagine the characters actually saying the lines to each other. What resulted were very disjointed conversations. He even talked about photographers popping flashbulbs.

That's enough. I'm sorry I wasted one of my book credits.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 09-08-05


I had high hopes for this novel but ultimately found it disappointing. Trapped between science fiction and, well, something else, the book only engaged my interest when Wouk's explanation of the physics involved was intriguing. The characters who wander through the novel are weak and uncompelling.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Outstanding in every way

Herman Wouk is a master of the English Language and his story about scientists and politicians and the Superconducting Supercollider rings completely true.