The President’s Shadow

Author, Brad Meltzer, is a number one New York Times best-selling author and one of the few authors to have non-fiction books on the New York Times best-selling list. He also hosts the popular television programs, Brad Meltzer’s Decoded and Brad Meltzer’s Lost History, on the History Channel and on H2.

On a recent trip, my husband and I listened to the unabridged audio version of his book, The President’s Shadow. The trip wasn’t long enough, so it took a while to finish the book. I’ve decided that audiobooks are not the best for doing book reviews, because I cannot go back and flip pages to look up something, as I can with my Nook or a real book.

The President’s Shadow tells the story of Beecher White, a young staff person who works at the national archives in Washington, D.C. Beecher also has second job; he serves as a member of the Culper Ring, a spy ring created by George Washington for the purpose of protecting the presidency. The book opens with the first lady, who slipped outside at night to work in the White House rose garden unobserved — first ladies get very little time outside the fishbowl, you know. It is there that she digs up a human arm. The current president needs Beecher’s help, and there are some who know his secret. Some of them, however, wish only horrific things for the sitting president, and will stop at nothing to prevent Beecher from protecting the president.

The story has many twists and turns, as should any good story of intrigue and adventure. Something pointed out in the course of the story is the manner in which some young recruits were used as experimental guinea pigs — it seems this may never end. One character had mental health issues which made him a very dangerous person — a social issue not unique to our own time.

Meltzer also revealed a small community where families of discharged military service members were sent to live after World War II. It seems that these families became guinea pigs for government research. Scary stuff that affected the entire lives of those very real families.

I cannot say whether the book was well written because I haven’t seen it in writing. I remember that the reader mispronounced a couple of words, but I do not remember what they were, and would need to listen to the entire book again in order to find them. I can say that, for the most part, the story seemed to flow well. It was a compelling story, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good suspenseful novel. I wouldn’t mind hearing the story again, but we have already renewed it once, and it needs to go back to the local public library.

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