Sunday, July 10, 2011


by Eric Martin and Stephen Elliott

This slim novel was not at all what I expected.  It stars Donald Rumsfeld, the former Secretary of Defense in the United States.  One night, Donald is abducted out of his home by people who are clearly working for some branch of US Intelligence or the military.  He is held in a variety of locations, including, eventually, Guantanamo Bay.

From this basic description, I expected the book to be an absurdist fantasy, and quite funny.  The concept of the man more responsible for the 'War on Terror' than any other getting a taste of his own medicine sounds like it should be played for laughs.  At the least, I expected it to move into a Kafkaesque string of confusing and contradictory moments, and there are elements of that, but the writing stays very grounded in the world of the serious and quite plausible.

The one thing I definitely didn't expect was to begin to feel sympathy for Rumsfeld as a character.  His determination to stay a few steps ahead of his interrogators, and his belief that he knows what they are doing is admirable, but also, as his faculties begin to leave him, a little heart-breaking.

This book is well-written, and becomes a very interesting study in character.  The authors end up portraying Rumsfeld and many of the people that he comes into contact with as unwitting players in a larger story, that no one knows the plot of or ending to.  What I found most interesting is that at no point does Donald question why he is being detained - it's like he knew it would happen sooner or later.

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