Too close for comfort

Tick… tick… tick… Is the world as we know it on a countdown? According to Christian fundamentalist author Rosenberg, this is indeed the case.

syria jr 521 (photo credit: Matilde Gattoni)
syria jr 521
(photo credit: Matilde Gattoni)
T he juxtaposition of Joel C. Rosenberg’s latest runaway novel, Damascus Countdown, together with the latest developments in Middle Eastern events is nothing short of spectacular. It brings to mind synchronism (also referred to as synchronicity), that age-old question of life imitating art, imitating life ad infinitum.
Tick… tick… tick… Is the world as we know it on a countdown? According to Christian fundamentalist religious author Rosenberg, this is indeed the case. The author is not new to the geo-political thriller genre, and has added his brand of end-of-days Christianity to this other wise very well-written mix.
Nor do I use the term runaway lightly; the book swooped me into a twilight zone, an alternative ending to the events that could very well be unfolding at this very moment. I felt like reading the book ever more quickly – perhaps in order to somehow prepare myself, back here in the real world. Mostly I was simply compelled; at times the usual spy novel fare, and at times literally breathtaking, Rosenberg’s latest offering is quite an excellent read. The intrigue, the ops, the technology – many readers will be at the edges of their armchairs long after the book is over, waiting for the movie to come out.
The protagonist, CIA operative David Shirazi, is not new to the seasoned Rosenberg fan.
For three years in a row, first in 2011 (The Twelfth Imam) and then in 2012 (The Tehran Initiative ), this sympathetic and believable character has infiltrated a not-so-fictionalized Iran, with a team of agents and Langley backing. If I tell you anything more about the details of the plot I would not be doing it any justice.
But here’s the first caveat for our Israeli readers: this book was read and reviewed just south of Jerusalem. I suspect that you will cringe (as I did) as we read about bombs (ICBM-type huge missiles) wreaking havoc locally. As you read this heart-stopping book, look up ever y now and then (as I did) to remind yourself that ever ything is okay.
My second caveat has to do with the born-again polemics laced into the narrative. I didn’t much care to be preached to by either the protagonist or his friends; I didn’t care for their in-your-face soul-searching, in which they continuously tried to prove that all other religions are wrong. Too many characters were tr ying to convert the others. This sub-plot seemed out of place and unnecessar y to the furthering of the main action, and actually detracted from the power of such a novel in this bracing genre.
Rosenberg, whose mother is not Jewish, explained it in this way: “I’m an evangelical Christian from an Orthodox Jewish heritage, and I’m basing my novels on biblical prophecy.”
My reser vations about the sub-plot notwithstanding, Damascus Countdown is listed on both The New York Times and Amazon best-seller lists, and for ver y good reason.