Edward Snowden damaged the National Security Administration. Now, years later, current NSA Director General Ted Anders was not going to let that happen again. To do so, after all, would prevent him from keeping America safe; the good of the many v. the good of the few thing, right?
Evelyn Gallagher was a dedicated NSA analyst and computer genius. She had developed software that could track nearly all security camera systems in the world and, even more remarkably, identify people using biometric data. When she identified a senior NSA staffer meeting with a journalist known for his work exposing government excesses, it raised a red flag. But when one of those men was dead and the second kidnapped by jihadists and left for dead within hours after reporting her findings to General Anders, Evie started piecing things together, not only about this incident, but others that preceded it. She is immediately torn between her suspicions and the need for her job, not only because of its importance, but because she is the sole provider for her little boy.
The God's Eye View is incredibly entertaining, a thriller that travels the world and encounters some of the most dangerous, distasteful people in its darkest corners. Nothing about author Barry Eisler's writing or story telling will keep readers wanting. The book is well balanced between a compelling plot, character development, sex, love, and violence.
Unique to many books in the genre, Mr. Eisler does a great job with character development. Our hero, Evelyn Gallagher and her son; the power hungry and increasingly delusional General Anders; the NSA muscle, Thomas Delgado and Marvin Manus; even General Ander's assistant, General Mike Remar. None are treated as secondary in their role in the book, and they're developed enough that I had felt a connection with each of them, although some more pleasant than others!
But the book is more than just a thriller. It is a statement about the degradation of privacy and liberty in America and the world and about the dangers that have resulted and will continue to. About the paranoia that often comes with power. And about how complacently most Americans have allowed it to happen, even want it to happen, as long as it doesn't interfere with their day to day lives.
"I implement what the people want, even if they don't have the integrity and self-awareness to admit they want it. And I have no patience for anyone who enjoys meat but moans about slaughterhouses, who wears cheap clothes but deplores sweatshops, who weeps about climate change from behind the wheel of an SUV or from the window seat of an airplane."Of course, General Ander's quote above is in defense of the drastic measures he takes to protect America and to keep America's secrets. But that argument isn't foreign to many Americans or our politicians. Ironically, as The God's Eye View points out, the threat to America sometimes needs protected from comes from the people making that very argument. And when finally confronted, General Remar's response:
"He sighed. 'Let's not be naive. We're not subverting democracy; democracy was subverted a long time ago...It's NSA management or corporate management. And believe me, you don't want the corporations running the show all by themselves. We're not exactly Thomas Jefferson, okay, that ship has sailed, but we're not complete slaves of mammon, either.'"While the story told in The God's Eye View is fiction, there are referenences to current events, news stories, conspiracy theories, and the methods used to control the media over the last decade and a half. Mr. Eisler goes one step further, provided readers with a list of sources at the end of the book that include news articles, scholarly works, and other links.
Whether you read The God's Eye View for the great story, dynamic characters, thrills, or the deeper statement it makes, I'm confident you'll enjoy it. But don't be surprised if you find yourself wanting to remove mobile phone batteries, cover web cameras when not in use, and debate whether it's better to send files unencrypted hoping they won't be noticed versus encrypting but drawing attention to them!
Eisler, Barry. The God's Eye View, Thomas & Mercer, February 2, 2016.
A copy of The God's Eye View was provided to The Thirty Year Itch by the publisher via NetGalley.com. No compensation was provided for this review.