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The Last Jihad
By Joel C. Rosenberg

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The Last Jihad

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The Last Jihad
By Joel C. Rosenberg
Thorndike Press: Large Print, (2004)
ISBN: 0-7862-5262-6
Genre: Thriller

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - June 7, 2004

George W. Bush has completed his second term in office and James "Mac" MacPherson is now the president of the United States. Al-Qaeda has been vanquished and Osama bin Laden is no more. However, in this futuristic fictional version of history, the war against Iraqi and Saddam Hussein never took place. In the interim, between the tragic events of September 11th, 2001 and the election of MacPherson, Saddam has managed to increase his stockpile of weapons of mass destruction and to train a cadre of soldiers who are eager to become suicide bombers, giving their lives in the fight against the Great Satan, i.e., the United States. To make matters worse, Saddam is dying, his sons are all dead, and he has nothing left to lose... It is on this stage that Joel C. Rosenberg's novel, The Last Jihad is set.

A fast paced thriller, The Last Jihad starts out with a pulse tinging attack on the presidential motorcade by kamikaze pilots. Simultaneously, targets in France, England, and Saudi Arabia are also attacked by Saddam's fedayeen. As Saddam's reign of terror spreads, it becomes apparent that the US has little choice but to take Saddam out - permanently. In addition to attempting to destroy Western civilization by waging a Jihad against the West, Saddam's actions may also have the unintended consequence of destroying a chance for the Israelis and the Palestinians to establish a mutually beneficial peace.

The new peace plan is simple, huge oil and gas reserves have been discovered in Israel, Gaza, and off the Israeli coast. These reserves are worth billions. However, the only way that they can be exploited is if a lasting and solid peace can be achieved between the Israelis and the Palestinians - it is the only way for them to attract the necessary financial backing for the enterprise. The basis for the lasting peace is simple - greed. The general idea, as Rosenberg has worked out, is that if the oil reserves can be used, every single Israeli and Palestinian will become instant millionaires. The specter of such unimaginable wealth will induce all the factions to set aside any political, religious, or social issues they have and work with their former opponents to become filthy rich. (You never know. It might work?)

Jon Bennett, a financial strategist, began working on this 'deal' long before Saddam launched his new Jihad. To make the 'deal' happen, he has had to broker a deal between Dmitri Galishnikov, head of Medexco (an Israeli oil company) and Ibrahim Sa'id, head of the Palestinian Petroleum Group. At the time of the attack on the president's motorcade, he is in Israel finalizing some of the paperwork. As it happens, MacPherson was his mentor, and at one time, his boss. Now, due to the unexpect attacks, Bennet finds himself once again working for his old friend, this time as Senior Advisor to the President. His main task is to ensure that the oil for peace deal goes through. A task that is complicated by Saddam's efforts to annihilate Israel.

Engaging and entertaining, The Last Jihad is a thinly disguised political treatise slanted toward the Conservative Right. In essence, Rosenberg, who once worked for Rush Limbaugh, appears to be saying that if Bush had not started the second war against Iraq when he did, America would have, inevitably, faced a much more serious threat from Saddam sometime in the future. Despite the political underpinnings of this novel, it is a great thriller. There are lots of explosions, chases, shoot-outs, and enough action packed sequences throughout the story to keep your attention from being drawn too closely to the political message and from any pitfalls you might uncover in the plot. Best of all, from its very beginning, to its dramatic conclusion, Rosenberg keeps up a hectic pace throughout this novel.

A word of warning, the book's ending may leave you wanting to know what happens next. Not to worry. Rosenberg has already written a sequel to The Last Jihad. It is called The Last Days and it has already been published.


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