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The Project

The time is the turn of the century. Catapulted into office by abrupt tragedy, Dewey Goldberg is the first Jewish president of the United States. Though a thoroughly Americanized politico from a blue-collar district in Michigan, Goldberg knows he'll need a solid vote from his coreligionists in the bruising, upcoming reelection. Yet his greatest obstacle comes from a wholly unexpected quarter: Elihu Barzel, the prime minister of Israel. A miraculous survivor of World War II Poland in his youth, Barzel created an ever-growing legend for himself in Israel's birth and years of struggling growth. Inscrutable to even his closest friends, he is both the most well-known and the most mysterious man in the country, inspiring either devout loyalty or undying hatred. Now, for reasons known mostly to himself, he is about to throw his support to the American president's opponent, an ultraconservative, apocalypse-minded fundamentalist Christian. Charlie Walker is a prizewinning investigative journalist and Dewey Goldberg's confidant. Dispatched to Israel by presidential request, he gradually picks up the trail of an operation known only as The Project, a grand, treacherously shrouded stratagem, whose architect is Elihu Barzel, whose target is the earth's precarious balance of power, and whose explosive trigger only Walker can defuse. For in lifting the veil off The Project's hidden face, Walker will uncover a devastating secret about Barzel himself, one jealously guarded for decades by the aging warrior, and threaten to wrench not only Barzel's destiny from its likely course, but the destiny of Walker, Walker's friend and president, and the world they all inhabit. Packed with insight into the innerworkings of foreign policy, as well as brilliant suspense, refreshing humor, and wonderfully realized characters, The Project is a tour from a master guide through the twisting corridors of international power. An explosive thriller, it will keep you riveted from the opening page t
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This novel is billed as a fast-paced political thriller. Fast-paced it definitely is, but Day of the Jackal it isn't. Instead, Israeli novelist Chafets (Hang Time, LJ 3/1/96) offers a quick romp reminiscent of early Irving Wallace, albeit not so long-winded. Set at the turn of this century, the plot has the first Jewish president, Dewey Goldberg, and his columnist buddy trying to fathom the character and actions of Israeli prime minister Elihu Barzel. Barzel can be described as a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and his agenda includes making lots of trouble for Dewey and his administration. Amid much realpolitik doubletalk and many red herrings, this novel comes to a predictable but good-hearted conclusion. Readers looking for true suspense and really far-fetched plot lines should look into recent political memoirs, but Chafets's novel will be enjoyed. Recommended for general collections.‘Lesley C. Keogh, Bethel P.L., Ct.

Even though it deals with such heavy-weight issues as the threat of nuclear war in the Middle East and Israel's meddling in an American election, this new thriller by Chafets (Inherit the Mob) has a cozy, downhome (hamische, as they say in Yiddish) quality, a welcome rarity in the current marketplace of blood and techno-thunder. There's also a healthy dash of sly insider's humor (Chafetz, now a columnist for the Jerusalem Report, worked as a press officer for Prime Minister Menachem Begin). It's 2000, and Dewey Goldberg, America's first Jewish president, sits uneasily in the White House‘having been elevated from Speaker of the House to chief executive 11 months earlier in the wake of a boating accident that killed both the president and the veep. Goldberg seems to have a good chance at winning a full term, until word leaks out that the enigmatic Israeli prime minister, Elihu Barzel, is pressuring American Jews to support the Republican candidate, right-wing Southern populist Earl Childes. Goldberg asks his old college friend Charlie Walker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, to find out why. Walker digs up some frightening facts about Barzel's past and his involvement in a shadowy military operation called The Project, which has something to do with the Armageddon being predicted for the year 2001 by Reverend Bobby Silas, a powerful American Christian militant. The plot's weighty bones don't stop Chafetz from animating a large and extremely colorful cast of minor characters, or from spreading his tart comments on politics and religion like horseradish on gefilte fish. (Apr.)

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