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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Berenson, Alex: The Silent Man

  Amazon  

4 stars

The Silent Man is the third installment in Alex Berenson's series featuring CIA agent John Wells. I have not read the first two books in the series -- The Faithful Spy and The Ghost War -- but although it was clear while reading that I was missing some back story, not having read the earlier books did not impede my understanding of this one. The book has a strong beginning that will keep readers interested: The driver of a tractor intentionally collides with a tanker truck carrying 8000 gallons of gasoline. Meanwhile, a certain Grigory Farzadov, a sympathetic bear of a man, is forced by Muslim extremists to steal material from the Russian nuclear facility where he works as a guard. The two incidents are early steps in a plot to manufacture and detonate a nuclear bomb on American soil. John Wells, of course, is the man who won't let that happen, though he actually doesn't become aware of the threat until we're more than 200 pages into the story. In the first half of the book Wells is instead pursuing a private vendetta and worrying about his relationship with his fiancée, Jennifer Exley.

My reaction to The Silent Man is mixed. When Berenson is writing about the bad guys, his book is very good: his characters are compelling and three-dimensional, and we can identify with them despite that they're up to no good. When reading these sections, the book cruises along. Unfortunately, the story slows to a crawl during the sections that focus on John Wells and Exley. Wells himself--at least in this outing--is not an interesting character; neither is Exley, though she doesn't have a big role in the book. And the good guys' efforts to thwart the extremists' plot somehow aren't very exciting. I certainly didn't want Farzadov and his minders to succeed with their plans, then, but I wouldn't have cared in the slightest if Wells met his end while combatting them.

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