Monday, December 21, 2015

The First Hostage, by Joel C. Rosenberg

If I want to know what's going on in the Middle East, Joel Rosenberg is the one to ask.  His depth of experience in policy and journalistic roles in the U.S., as well as his time studying, working, and living in Israel, give him a unique perspective as a writer.  His fiction and nonfiction works have proven to be prescient, if not downright prophetic.

Rosenberg's newest novel, the second featuring journalist J.B. Collins, opens with a devastating attack on a Middle East peace summit.  ISIS has infiltrated the highest levels of U.S. intelligence, as well as the ranks of the Jordanian army.  In the course of the attacks, many American and Middle Eastern officials are killed.  Collins assists in getting the king of Jordon to safety, and Air Force One gets away unscathed.  But the president of the United States is nowhere to be found.

Rosenberg has a great feel for relations among the Jordanians, Americans, and Israelis.  One thing that came through loud and clear to me: Rosenberg does not view Islam as the enemy, but ISIS.  Adhering to another religion does not make enemies; terrorist attacks do.  And he makes it very clear that ISIS is the worst sort of enemy.  Not only do they capture the president and threaten to behead him (unless, of course, all Americans convert to Islam), but the horrors of their deeds become clear as Collins gets to the heart of ISIS's operation.

Rosenberg's writing is believable and action-packed.  All Collins wants to do is cover important events for the New York Times.  He ends up not only at the center of events, but a heroic key player in all that happens.  He is called on to do many things that journalism school didn't prepare him for!  The First Hostage is a great read, Rosenberg's pacing and development are well-done, and Collins is an everyman-hero I can get behind.  Highly recommended.

Thanks to Tyndale and the Tyndale Blog Network for the complimentary review copy!

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