My first book to read in 2017 is Fail-Safe. If the name sounds familiar it is because this best-selling novel was turned into a hit movie by the same name. The movie starred Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau and Larry Hagman. As it turns out, as great as the movie was, the book was even better. I love it when I get to say that!
It dawns on me I might actually have to explain what a Fail-Safe is. We have lost the sense of dread from the Cold War - if we hadn't, Trump would have never even got a nomination - and so the terms and the urgency of those days is easy lost in the recesses of our minds.
Fail-Safe is a point where bombers/fighters go during an alert. They basically hover there until the alert is called off or a 'Go' order is given. If the 'Go' order is given, it means nuclear war for the bombers are all laden with warheads. As in the book, the targets are generally inside Russia.
This book is so relevant to now but it is beautifully written. The phrases are well crafted and the action, even though the settings are mostly war rooms and cockpits, is tense and thick on each page. A computer glitch sends a bomber group a false 'Go' order and so they proceed on a path to drop their nuclear payloads. Their target is Moscow. There are only minutes for the President and the Generals to try and turn them back or deal with the inevitable. If you don't know the story, I won't give away the ending.
I had always wanted to read this book even though I know the movie rather well. I was curious to see how the Matador in the movie was portrayed in the book. I have always been fascinated by that sequence in the film version and was gratified to see it expanded on the page. I was also surprised to learn that the two authors based the novel on the short story, Abraham, 58, by co-author, Harvey Wheeler. This story has been updated into the 60's though it won't seem dated and it is easy to picture the story happening today.
The other author, Eugene Burdick, was a co-author of the best-seller, The Ugly American. There is scant information online about these two guys but what you do find leads you to believe they were a pretty interesting pair. If you want a real thriller novel, this is a good one to get. I highly recommend this story and give it a 5 by 5 on the rating scale. It was a good way to start my reading year.