The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson: A Hoodwinked Thriller

The President is Missing. Well, I reached page 153 and the President was still there (sorry for the spoiler). Some people have loved, I mean really loved the book on Goodreads but sometimes you just cannot share the love.

‘The President is Missing’ is a political thriller written by Bill Clinton and James Patterson published in 2018. America is threatened with an imminent cyber-attack, the domino effect is supposed to bring the entire world down to its feet unleashing the ‘Dark Ages’. But, primarily, the virus attack is aimed at crippling America and reducing its superpower status. Who would want to do it, not a surprise but the usual suspects? Within this ambit, there is Suliman Cindoruk, the head of the terrorist organization named ‘Sons of Jihad’ aka SOJ operating from Turkey. And, to be politically correct, an additional byline is run stating Suliman as a ‘Turkish terrorist but not a religious man’.

Did I reveal the entire story? Yes/ No/ I don’t know, the book is 513 pages of political wisdom and thrill brought together by an ex-President and a bestseller Author!

The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
Penguin Random House, UK

‘At the end of the Constitutional Convention, a citizen asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government our founders had given us. He replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” That’s a job no president can do alone. It’s up to all of us to keep it. And to make the most of it.’

‘The President is Missing’ is unabashedly about Jonathan Lincoln Duncan, ‘the President of USA’. He is an honest, upright man who wouldn’t just order a military strike on the Middle East to avoid his impeachment. You are made aware of the serious, grim situations in which the President is supposed to act and take important decisions.

As the book begins, President Duncan is rehearsing for an impending impeachment trial on grounds of making a phone call to Suliman Cindoruk. And, you feel like sitting inside the ‘Mission Impossible’ scenario and listening to Jeremy Renner saying ‘I can neither confirm nor deny.’ Just believe there are a multitude of personal and political upheavals that are sidelined by the President for the greater good. A few pages down the book, you realize you actually began with a trail and you are still on it. So back to the real problem at hand.

The direct act of terror is confronted in the form of Nina and Augie, the two cyber terrorists hired by Suliman Cindoruk who may have undergone a change of heart. These two are able to tip the President about the impending cyber-attack.

Internal Politics and Media

Kathy Brandt, the Vice President is not happy with Duncan, she is uneasy losing the Presidency to a war hero with rugged good looks and a sharp sense of humor. And, there are others too in the President’s closed circle who are waiting for one wrong step to pounce upon him. After the death of his wife, Duncan has nobody except Lily, his daughter as a trust pillar. So the threat of ‘Dark Ages’ has to be dealt at a personal level by the President with just a handful of trustworthy officials. Then there are a few heads of Nations called in for support and grapple with the situation.   

“Participation in our democracy seems to be driven by the instant-gratification worlds of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and the twenty-four-hours news cycle.”

The book tries to bring to light the present-day media functioning which concentrates on garnering maximum viewership by serving conflicts and division. I liked the phrase ‘talk-show fodder’ that exists on built-up molehills by the media. There are a number of pages serving you a piece of Bill Clinton’s mind on media, politics, and love for America.

In all this, there is a parallel narrative of an assassin named Bach with some gruesome past that has turned her into this cold-blooded lethal weapon. It is interesting how female characters get to play the villainy in this book. No doubt Cindoruk is the ultimate enemy but he hardly has a role in terms of background or taking the story forward.

Coming back to ‘Dark Ages’, a slice of the terror is unleashed when the water treatment plant in California is hacked and contaminated water begins to be distributed. Thus, intensifying the plot and bringing more flesh to the threat hanging on America. Then there is the countdown to keep you on your toes to find out how the virus will be eliminated. Yes, a ‘Mission Impossible’ all the way down, minus the role of an IMF or a superbly talented agent, just the President. Well, the President was missing because he was busy saving your day!

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