The Overton Window

The Overton Window - Glenn Beck Looking through the other reviews, it's obvious that many of them never bothered reading the book at all. Rather, they saw the name "Glenn Beck", proceeded to give it 1 star, and typed up a review smearing it as loathsome trash, and Beck the worst human being on the face of this Earth.

In some cases, not having read the book is acknowledged in the write-up. In other cases, they write remotely plausible-sounding things about the work. (Like how supposedly bad the writing is) Those criticisms seemed reasonable enough to me...until I actually read "The Overton Window".

This book is not polemical. The words "Democrat" and "Republican" don't appear a single time throughout any of its 417 pages. Indeed, the book frequently talks about "both candidates" being similarly corrupt, incompetent, and easily controlled. Certainly, that's a sentiment I believe most of us share nowadays.

What is the book actually about? Noah Gardner is the son of Arthur Gardner, a 74 year-old PR power broker who has applied the insidious teachings of Edward Bernays better than anyone else. Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, was supposedly the first to control and shape the ideas the general population with ads, biased news articles, etc.

Noah works as a VP in his father's firm, thinking little of what is going on around him. However, he becomes entangled with a beautiful young girl named Molly, who is a part of a movement to re-mold government into the more functional and less freedom-crushing form it once possessed. She bases her beliefs on those of the Founding Fathers, while tracing the rise of the cancer that has seeped in and slowly poisoned the US government since the early 20th century.

As is acknowledged from the early pages, Noah is smitten with her, and thus begins his descent into a world of intrigue, murder, and his father's all-encompassing plan for the US, framed as a part of something called "The Overton Window"...

With regards to the style of writing, "The Overton Window" is a standard, professionally penned thriller. Nothing particularly good, nothing especially bad. Beck is not an author himself, and he acknowledges receiving help in the credits from actual pros. One easy way to spot someone who hasn't read the book but is slamming is if they criticize the prose.

The book is realistic, and our heroes don't manage to smash any giant government conspiracies or anything. On the contrary, the villains attain a partial victory. This is very refreshing, even if I think the idea of an evil mastermind like Arthur Gardner is far-fetched. In reality, I think it's a bunch of news people, most of them quite stupid, that inject their political biases into the stories they report. (And on CNN, MSNBC, and Yahoo! News, they happen to be liberals...)

There is also a good dose of humor, always used at an appropriate point in the novel. In addition, there is a smattering of action, which isn't done particularly well, but helps keep things fresh. For the most part, the novel stays engaging and fast-paced throughout, hitting several entertainment high notes at the end of its first and final, third parts. The biggest lull occurs in Part 2, with too many repetitive arguments and discourse from Molly. Another weak point happens near the middle of Part 3, with an embarrassingly goofy sequence with Molly quoting from Star Wars.

The political ruminations themselves are interesting and well-stated. They deal primarily in facts and exact quotes, and there are solid arguments that an open-minded person of any political persuasion should at least hear out. (Who doesn't think many of the bail-outs were a bad idea? Who doesn't think Social Security is a Ponzi scheme the government uses to get inside our wallets? Who doesn't think Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are greedy companies saved by their cronies in Congress?)

Overall, it's a good, quality thriller with a strong grip on reality, several strong parts, as well as a few weaknesses and failings. Definitely worth checking out for anyone who isn't blinded by hate for the author's name.