(A Book Review of Joel C. Rosenberg’s The Last Jihad)
Do you still remember where and what were you doing on the fateful day of September 11, 2001?
On that historic Tuesday morning, Joel C. Rosenberg was putting the finishing touches on what will be his first novel. Written some nine months before 9/11, it opens with a chilling and ominous scene where radical Islamic terrorists hijack a jet plane on a kamikaze attack mission into an American city. But what really brought The Last Jihad to international attention and catapulted it to bestseller lists was how it disturbingly and accurately predicted America’s war with Saddam Hussein over terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
Set ten years after the tragic event of the September 11, 2001 attack, popular American President James McPherson has successfully rooted out terrorist cells in the Middle East and North Africa. Osama bin Laden is dead for good, but Sadam Hussein continues to plot against the West. Then the day comes when no one and nothing has prepared them (and the reader as well) to what happens next: coordinated and simultaneous attacks throughout London, Paris, Riyadh and several sites in the United States and an assassination attempt that gravely wounded the U.S. President.
The reader then follows the crisis and action through the eyes of Jon Bennett, A Wall Street strategist who once worked closely with the McPherson. Now it’s up to Bennett, along with his partner Erin McCoy, on a covert mission as they pool together their cunning to accomplish an international business deal with significant political ramifications where everyone’s hope rests. It’s a race against time as Israeli agents foil a plan by Sadam’s regime to carry out a nuclear attack on Israel and as the Prime Minister seeks to pressure the United States to “go nuclear” on Iraq, threatening that if the U.S. doesn’t do it, then Israel will.
The Last Jihad involves many separate strands advancing on parallel tracks that eventually converge in neat coordination. Rosenberg unfolds gripping scenes with ever-increasing tension, culminating in climax that is more complex than predictable. His realistic depiction of the interplay between the Secret Service, FBI and CIA gave the novel that energy and grittiness reminiscent of Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum spy/action flicks. My only beef with this narrative juggling act eventually comes in midway point when the story slows down and moves away from dramatic scenes of action, specially in the part where the advisers engage in a heated debate as intelligence reports point out that Iraq is planning a nuclear attack that made the characters come off as talking heads as they decide on a first strike.
Rosenberg’s novel comes at a time when geopolitical issues are raging in the world, particularly in the Middle East. Everyone is asking one thing: What is coming? His insights in this book are eye-opening, motivating us to look at our lives and be certain of our destination when the end comes.
The world has not quite recovered from the events unleashed by Bin Laden’s deadly adventurism. Two wars have followed since then, and almost ten years later, the issues and causes on which they were launched remain unsolved. One provocation in one part of the world has been echoed by another, threatening an escalation of violence whose complexity has far outstripped our capacity for comprehension.
The Last Jihad is the first installment in a five book series that explores the current rumblings in the Middle East and how will it impact the world. One thing’s for sure, I’m looking forward to the next novel.
Published by Tyndale House Publishers
(Trade Paperback, 2006 9/11 Anniversary Edition)
Stared: September 7, 2010
Finished: September 13, 2010