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Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Noah Option: Book Review

Re: Book Review - Preparedness, Book Review - Community

I met author Michael Mccarthy at the Oct 14th Sensible Prepper Conference in Greenville, SC. I obtained a copy of his novel, The Noah Option, and I'm happy to give it a hearty recommendation.

The book has a lot going for it. The story begins with a shootout between a main character and some mercenaries in Botswana.

After a slam-bang start, the book settles down to acquaint the reader with some rather engaging characters. The main ones are:
  • Geneticist Dr. Grace Washington, professor & researcher at Tuskegee University. Grace is a distant relative of Booker T. Washington.
  • Entrepreneur & software wizard, Isaiah Mercury, who finds himself smitten with Grace beyond any hope of recovery.
As the plot unfolds two sides emerge in an epic conflict. Grace, Isaiah and their allies represent the forces of free market capitalism, ingenuity and initiative. A corrupt administration with its elitist & bureaucratic minions arrays itself against them.

As the story unfolds, you will find romance, courtroom drama, suspense and danger all played against a backdrop of struggle against godless tyranny.

Perhaps the best thing I like about this book is that it shows that the battle against our Nazi-like system cannot be waged by lone individuals. In the book, individuals come together into communities of free people under God who cooperate within the bounds of a free market.

As my regular readers know, such communities have transformed civilization before. We call them churches. (Click here for details.)

For all that The Noah Option has going for it, I believe my reading audience will find a few negatives. There are basically three.
  1. There is some profanity in the book. Much, but not all comes from the mouths of the bad guys. I also find it interesting that the author renders the one scatological reference exactly as follows: s__t. But he spells out cursing and other profane language. This is not so much a reflection on McCarthy as it is on our society in general and the broad evangelical community that considers affronts to God more acceptable than affronts to their own sensibilities.
  2. Although the story line shows Christianity in a favorable light, and the main characters are Christians, at two places the book takes the typical, syncretistic American view of religion. In one instance it favorably refers to a Judaeo/Christian/Muslim commonality, and in the other it adds in Buddhism and Hinduism, as well.
  3. In the author's fictional world, an independent researcher and a free-market entrepreneur develop and market a genetically modified (GM) seed corn to third world farmers that is safe, cheap, requires 1/4 the water and produces four times the yield compared to standard seeds. In the real world, GM seeds come from politically connected corporate giants like Monsanto, carry a price tag far above that of traditional seeds, bear the blame for massive crop failures (see here and here and here), and come with serious safety questions (see here). While I acknowledge the theoretical possibility of a GM variety of grain or vegetable that meets all the criteria posed in The Noah Option, from everything I've read on the topic, we're just not there yet. Moreover, the fictional proponents of GM foods came with scientific credentials while their main detractors had no scientific training whatsoever. In the real world, it seems that Big Agra forges ahead against evidence of harmful effects (see here and here and here and here and here [several articles by scientists at last link])
After discussing the last point above with Mike McCarthy, he says that, in the sequel, he plans to bring out the contrast between his character's seeds and those of the entrenched crony capitalist corporations like Monsanto.
    There are going to be the inevitable comparisons between The Noah Option and such books as Atlas Shrugged and Time Will Run Back. While this novel does not have the epic scope of Ayn Rand's work, it does present compelling characters in an engaging struggle. And it does a much better job than Henry Hazlitt's book of clearly presenting free market ideas without the ponderous, seemingly interminable monologues.

    My conclusion is that if you understand and can deal with each caveat presented above, I think you'll find Michael McCarthy's The Noah Option an ostensibly Christian, politically conservative thriller, which will not disappoint.

    1 comment:

    1. I'll check it out! Sounds interesting--I would have noticed all three points, and I agree with you, especially on 3, but then again this is coming from the guy who distrusts that sort of thing.