I'm starting to think the editorial writers at the New York Times get their news from MSNBC. The Old Gray Lady certainly isn't getting its view of the world — and America's enemies — from its own fine foreign correspondents, Dexter Filkins (The Forever War) and Alex Berenson.
Berenson's latest novel, The Silent Man, (Putnam, $25.95) won't make him any friends at the Council of American-Islamic Relations, as an al-Qaeda terrorist plot is aided and abetted at every turn by "moderate" Muslims who refuse to stand against the violent radicals in their midst until it's too late.
In just three books, Berenson's fine spy series featuring CIA agent John Wells has covered the Axis of Evil and then some. But, unlike his newspaper, Berenson is gaining market share for his publisher by leaps and bounds.
Here's a sentiment you won't find reflected on the NYT editorial page, as Wells replies mentally to a snooty French agent's condescension toward Americans: "Well I've done all right so far… and so has the United States. And last time I checked, France has a second-rate economy and a third-rate army and got attention mainly for the sex lives of its president."
Berenson's strength is that he employs his foreign correspondent experience to great effect with locales from Kazakhstan to Hamburg to Switzerland; with understanding of how the security and government bureaucracies work — or don't work — in each place.
When an assassination attempt fails against Wells and his former CIA handler, now fiance, the plotter — fearing retaliation by Wells — proposes a truce. Wells says "bygones" in exchange for information about a nuclear plot against the U.S. As Wells follows the trail, always one step behind the jihadists smuggling stolen Russian warheads into America, the tension mounts, and readers learn a lot about the world in the process.
But no matter how cynical the cruel world may turn him, or how frustrated he becomes with American intelligence bureaucracies, Wells is driven by the realization that "The world would be a poorer place if the American dream died."