Tuesday, November 21, 2017

American Superhero: Coup D'etat by Ben Coes

To the author, Ben Coes, to be an American is to belong to the Master Race. Period. Superhuman strength; Always right; No doubts, no dilemmas; Always on Top. The only people who can come (somewhat) close to the Americans are the Israelites. The rest are wimps, nincompoops, bunglers, cowards, traitors, avaricious, and brutes. Actually this is not the kind of book that I read but since the scenario involved a nuclear war breaking out between India and Pakistan and the book was being offered at a throwaway price of Rs. 35/-, I picked it up. Unfortunately, even those rupees are too much for this piece of writing.



The author tells us more than once that in Australia, a ranch is called a station. Well done at this piece of research but at the same time, he doesn't know that India doesn't have a presidential but rather a parliamentary form of government. The President is just the ceremonial head, all the important decisions are taken by the Prime Minister. One click at google would have revealed the fact to him but no, neither he nor the editors at Pan Macmillan (hardly a novice publishing house) seem to have bothered about this. Ah! The stinking humanity of the Third World doesn't matter. That's why, Gen Karreff, the head of the Pakistani Military, is shown canoodling with his mistress and listening to Mozart when his country has just dropped a nuclear bomb and is staring at total annihilation, in retaliation. Nincompoop doesn't cover it.

At a point in the book, US President Allaire declares grandly to the Indian government that :" We are the country that has protected our allies, including India, with the threat of our nuclear arsenal, for more than a century." (Thunder and Lightening) Excuse me! I don't have much of knowledge about this but it is Pakistan which has received support from USA rather than India in all the wars fought between the two neighbouring counties. The geo-political realities might have changed now but lets not distort the past to fit in the present scenario.

And what's with the names. I have never come across such exotic Indian and Pakistani names. Sample these: Praset Dartalia, Guta Morosla, Darius Mohan, Benazem Banday, Faris Durvan, Rami Mavilius, Persom Karreff, Itrikan Parmir, and Xavier Bolin. The last named is not only the Field Marshal of Pakistan but is later made the President of the country. Will an Islamic country let a Christian become its Field Marshal let alone its President? It boggles the mind as to how little research has gone into the book. But, of course, Coes is not interested in the Sub-Continent (which just serves as an exotic background), he is only and only interested in the exploits of his Superhero:

Out stepped Field Marshal Bolin, followed by another man carrying a submachine gun. This third outsider had long brown hair and a beard and a mustache. He was tall. His chest was broad, barreled, his arm muscles tanned and ripped. Though Bolin was the ranking officer, the most decorated soldier in the entire Pakistani military, it was the stranger who commanded the gaze of every officer in the hangar.

In fact, while reading the book, I was reminded so often of a forgotten book:The Mouse in the Mountain by Norbert Davis. That book had shown me the greatness of USA: a country which could satirize itself and laugh at its own foibles even while in the midst of a war. That broadness of mind is what has made US great, Mr. Coes, not your testosterone superhero.

*

First Line: Jinnah International Airport





8 comments:



  1. A


    Thanks for this review. I will avoid this book like it was a drunken uncle at a family reunion. I took a sneak peek on the internet and found a few surprising things:

    - The author calls his books "reality based."
    - Seven books in this series have been published. An eighth is scheduled for 2018. Based on your review, it's difficult to see how the series has managed to go beyond COUP D'ETAT, the second book in the series.
    - Nonetheless, Coes is a New York Times best-selling author.
    - Coes appears to be a staunch Republican, having worked for Reagan and George H. W. Bush White Houses. He was also Mitt Romney's campaign manager in his 2002 gubernatorial race.
    - I wonder how this series reads now that Donald Trump is president.

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  2. Jerry, even I was amazed to note how many books have come after this, and that it has got very good ratings on Goodreads. I can only assume that the things that I noticed as an Indian might not be known to people from other countries. As for his being a best-selling author, I am sure there is a huge market for such stuff in which a superhero goes about bashing the bad guys (jihadists in this case). I read somewhere that Coes was the speech-writer for President George Bush, this makes his knowledge (or lack of it) regarding the Indian system of governance even more appalling. He seems not to have consulted any expert on the Sub-Continental politics (there is none mentioned in the acknowledgement section, at least) which is surprising since the book involves an Indo-Pak war. Such ignorance almost smacks of arrogance.

    " I will avoid this book like it was a drunken uncle at a family reunion." Lol.

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  3. I’ll skip this book and look for the Davis novel. And, I liked your use of “canoodling.” Great word. Sounds like something Mark Twain would say. Thanks Neer.

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    1. I love the word too and it really seemed to fit:) Do read the Davis novel (it is available for free download).

      Always great when you visit and comment, Elgin.

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  4. Hmm....certainly doesn't sound like a book for me, Neeru! Sorry to hear it was such a disappointment.

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    1. Not a disappointment, Margot, because frankly I wasn't expecting anything from the book. It is not a genre that I enjoy. What astounded me though was the writer getting the basic facts wrong. I am sure if I were to write a book that involved politics of the USA and if I referred to the head of the state as a Prime Minister, the editor would have tossed the manuscript in trash, and rightly so. Yet not only does Coe get away with it but also the critics do not mention this anomaly. Strange.

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  5. I would not like this kind of book anyway, but especially not with the Master Race attitude.

    I think it was on your blog that I first read about Norbert Davis. I have all of his books now but have only read a short story.

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    1. I only picked it up Tracy because of the Indian connect otherwise I too do not read such books. Sincerely hope you enjoy Davis.

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