Gripping political thriller | Sunday Observer

Gripping political thriller

8 May, 2022

Title: State of Terror
Authors: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny
Publisher: Macmillan, UK

Acclaimed novelist Lousie Penny once asked her close friend Hillary Rodham Clinton about her time as Secretary of State and what had been her worst nightmare. ‘State of Terror’ is the answer to that question. It is a gripping political thriller co-authored by Hillary Clinton and Lousie Penny.

Hillary Clinton is not an ordinary woman. She served as the US Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013 after nearly four decades in public service as an advocate, attorney, first lady and Senator. She is the author of several other best-selling books. Lousie Penny is a veteran journalist, an international award-winning and best-selling author whose books have hit number one on the ‘New York Times, USA Today,’ and ‘Globe and Mail’ lists.

Secretary Clinton’s inside account of terror organizations’ attempt to acquire nuclear weapons is really frightening. The novel makes us believe that she has gained a truly global perspective on many of the major trends in terror organizations. She offers her views on what it will take the United States and the democratic world to combat the terrorist organizations.

Her diplomatic engagements at the highest level offer readers a master class in international relations as does her writing of how we can best use smart tools to track the terrorists and deliver security in rapidly changing and insecure world.

The novel brings out all the vital information to the fore. It makes the reader to take a ringside view of the world of international politics and terrorism.

After a tumultuous period in American politics, a new administration has just been sworn in. Secretary of State, Ellen Adams, is determined to do her duty for her country. However, she is about to face a horrifying international threat.

A young foreign service officer receives a baffling text from an anonymous source. Too late, she realizes it was a hastily-coded warning. Then a series of bus bombs devastate Europe heralding the rise of a new rogue terrorist organization which will stop at nothing in their efforts ti develop its own nuclear arsenal.

As Ellen unravels the damaging effects of the former presidency on international politics, she must also contemplate the unthinkable. Nuclear weapons falling into the hands of jihadists can be a nightmare given the ineffectual leadership of the former administration.

The novel narrates how the new American administration along with its intelligence agencies could stop this becoming a reality. The authors indirectly accuse the division in the American polity.

This they vividly bring out in a passage in the novel through the words of a jihadist terrorist sympathizer. “While you were looking outward, scanning the horizon for threats, you missed what was happening in your own backyard.

What was taking root right here on American soil, in your towns, your shops, in your heartland. Among your friends, in your families, the sensible conservatives are moving to the right. The right is moving far right. The far right is becoming ultra-right becoming in their rage and frustration, radicalized thanks to an internet filled with crazy theories, false facts, and smug politicians allowed to spew lies. I saw from a distance what you could not see close up.”

This is also true with left. Terrorism has been with us for centuries and it has always attracted inordinate attention because of its dramatic character and its sudden often wholly unexpected occurrence. It has been a tragedy for the victims, but seen in historical perspective seldom has been more than a nuisance.

Even the bloodiest terrorist incidents in the past affected only a relatively few people. This is no longer true today and may be even less so in the future. Yesterday’s nuisance has become one of the gravest dangers facing mankind. For the first time in history, weapons of enormous destructive power are both readily acquired and harder to track.

In the new age, even the cost of hundreds of lives may appear small in retrospect. Science and technology have made enormous progress, but human nature, alas has not changed. There is as much fanaticism and madness as there even was and there are now very powerful weapons of mass destruction available to the terrorist. In the near future it will be technologically possible to kill thousands of people with a suitcase size bomb. There has been a radical transformation if not a revolution in the character of terrorism, a fact we are still reluctant to accept.

Even though ISIS terrorists never made a secret of their operations, there was disbelief in the world that such atrocities as the terrorists committed were possible.

Some people believe that it is unlikely that extremists or fanatics possess the technological knowhow and the resources to make use of weapons of mass destruction. However, the technological skills are not that complex and the resources can be rare or expensive.

It is also possible that rogue governments which may themselves not use these weapons for fear of retaliation. However, they can readily supply the raw materials or th finished products to terrorists either for political or commercial gain.

Some people believe that the horrific consequences of using weapons of mass destruction will deter even fanatics from using them. But this underrates the element of blind aggression, rage of suicidal impulses, or sheer madness which unfortunately had always been part of human nature.

Hillary Clinton’s narrative traces the chilling trend towards small clusters of religious fanatics bent on vengeance and simple destruction. She conveys the message that it is only a matter of time before the attainability of nuclear weapons creates a terrifying and unstable scenario.

This is a discomfiting augury for the future. Clinton’s excellent work is probably the best single novel I have seen on the phenomenon of terrorists’ attempt to acquire nuclear weapons. Her narrative rattles along with speed and great credibility, not least because of her accurate and detailed backgrounds from a war room to the interior of White House. Undoubtedly, this is an excellent read calculated to grip the reader’s attention.