The God’s Eye View by Barry Eisler

gods eye view

by Barry Eisler

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 storytelling 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 references 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!

George Lichman
Originally published on 2/2/16

Can I Have a Witness?

By now you must have heard something about those books written for teens, but enjoyed by all ages, about the girl and the vampire. Right? …No? Um, has it been uncomfortable for you, living under that rock? Well, here’s a small hint about this big nationwide phenomenon. (Heck, there was even a segment about this whole deal on CBS News Sunday Morning!) An author named Stephenie Meyer wrote a series of books about a girl named Bella and the boy she loves desperately. Edward loves Bella just as much. The trouble comes from his being super strong, immortal, and unwilling to make Bella a vampire. And then to make things more complicated, there’s competition for Bella’s hand from Jacob — a werewolf. That’s a lot of troubled love, sigh. But it’s not all sad. I think a big part of the appeal is seeing how committed the fans of these books are to the series. Here is an eyewitness account of two events celebrating the release of the last book:

“Encouraged by my daughter, I’ve been reading the Twilight Saga books by Stephenie Meyer. I recently had the chance to check out two release parties for the latest title. While in Columbus with my family, we visited a local Barnes & Noble on the evening of the release party for Breaking Dawn, the fourth and reported final book in the series. Many book stores and libraries around the country were having theme parties, and we wondered how they would present theirs. They were having a wedding! Customers who had pre-ordered copies, plus many who hoped to get lucky and snag one of the extra books, came dressed as wedding guests. There was a wedding cake, trivia contests, raffles, and other theme-based activities. It was thrilling to see several hundred teens and young adults showing their enthusiasm for the much-anticipated book.

Last week I went to the release party at my local library. The Domonkas Branch of the Lorain Public Library in Sheffield Lake had a Prom theme. While it was a smaller group of about 30 Prom go-ers, they were no less enthusiastic. The librarian provided a trivia contest, prize drawing, a viewing of the trailer for the movie “Twilight” based on the first book in the saga, and a beautiful red velvet cake.

How fantastic it was to see these young people so excited, not for the release of the latest video game, but for a book!

—Chris Geis

Don’t worry if you missed this round of parties, I’ve already heard Ms. Meyer is working on Edward’s version of the story… I think I’m excited! Aren’t you?

Carol’s Summer Reads

My list of books I have been meaning to read/dying to read is so long it’s pitiful.  I’ll just offer a few samples: 

1.) Unraveling, by Michelle Baldini & Lynn Biederman.

I don’t normally read Teen books, but this one is special– it was given to me by one of the author who was one an organizer of a conference I recently attended at Kent State.  Also, the subject matter (a teenage girl’s relationship to her mother) is near and dear to me since I have three daughters. 

2.) Franklin and Lucy, by Joseph E. Persico.

Yes, I know the reviews say, “do we really need to know all this??”  Nevertheless I am still pruriently fascinated by the story of Franklin Roosevelt and Lucy Rutherford (also Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings).  Even our great leaders have their weaknesses.  Sounds like a good summer read. 

I have more, but have to check my stash at home. 

— Carol (Cowan Pottery Curator)

Krista’s RIOW List

*Can’t wait to read:

Running to the Mountain by John Katz.  (His blog and web-site about his life on a crazy farm in upstate New York, his dogs, his work with hospice and a very cool outlook on life, is a MOST CHARMING place to visit: > farm journal)

Summer Blowout by Claire Cook 

What Now? by Ann Patchett  (FYI – Ann Patchett’s mother is Jeanne Ray, author of Julie and Romeo, Eat Cake and Step-Ball-Change and Julie and Romeo Get Lucky -more excellent summer reads)

Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season by Jonathon Eig

*Just read:

Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup (LOVED IT. LOVED IT. LOVED IT. LOVED IT.) 

*Can’t wait to Re-read: 

Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk 

*Can’t Wait to Listen To: (LOW) 

When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris (I have already read it, and loved it, but you must listen to the authors deadpan delivery to truly experience the genius that is David Sedaris.) 

On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon  or anything written AND read by Kaye Gibbons. Her voice is magical.

—Krista (from the Administrative Services)