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Critical Mass

Critical Mass

3.5 19
by Whitley Strieber

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What would we do if a nuclear weapon was detonated in Washington, and the US government suddenly disappeared? What would we do if a terrorist organization announced that it had concealed nuclear weapons in ever major western city and then demanded that the entire planet embrace its twisted brand of Muslin fundamentalism?

In Critcal Mass, nuclear


What would we do if a nuclear weapon was detonated in Washington, and the US government suddenly disappeared? What would we do if a terrorist organization announced that it had concealed nuclear weapons in ever major western city and then demanded that the entire planet embrace its twisted brand of Muslin fundamentalism?

In Critcal Mass, nuclear interdiction expert James Deutsh and his tormented Muslim wife, Nabila, struggle to stop an impending nuclear attack on an American city. Along the way, they delve deep into the hidden world of nuclear terrorism and the experts who strive to contain it, and get a compelling look at the titanic battle within Islam over its own future--fundamentalist and rejecting, or compassionate and life-embracing?

Like Whitley Strieber's classics Warday and The Coming Global Superstorm, Critical Mass is torn straight from the dark pages of a very dangerous and very possible future.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this overheated thriller about nuclear terrorism from bestseller Strieber (2012: The War for Souls), Jim Deutsch, a CIA contract employee whose expertise is counterproliferation, has the world's fate in his hands as he races to foil the Islamic master-terrorist known as the Madhi. When Deutsch learns that some plutonium has been smuggled over the U.S. border from Mexico, he begins to suspect that America's elaborate homeland security apparatus has been compromised. His valiant efforts, alas, aren't enough to prevent the destruction of Las Vegas. As U.S. president William Fitzgerald ponders whether to launch devastating counterattacks aimed at much of the Muslim world, the tension rises, but the impact is undercut by some uneven prose ("She looked back at him as if from another dimension, her gaze resplendent with the unquenchable hope of youth, her mother's proud lips, determined, supremely confident that her dad was the great man she believed him to be"). (Feb.)

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From the Publisher
"Whitley Strieber's Critical Mass is one hell of a book—a frighteningly plausible conspiracy-thriller that is so real it sometimes feels like an expose. Nuclear killers, lovers on the run, all-knowing, omnipresent listening and seeing devices - Critical Mass conjures up a world that is terrifying in its technological plausibility - if not probability."—Douglas Preston, New York Times bestselling author of Blasphemy

"Nothing less than a certifiable page-turner. As I was reading it, I kept seeing the story unfolding on the big screen, just like The Day After Tomorrow. The threat of a nuclear strike against the U.S. is very real and very chilling, as are the kinds of people Strieber has conjured up in this really exciting yarn."—David Hagberg, USA Today bestselling author of Dance with the Dragon

"Engrossing . . . A first rate exercise in literary paranoia."—Publisher's Weekly on The Grays

"[A] truly spooky sci-fi tale."—People on The Grays

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Meet the Author

WHITLEY STRIEBER is the bestselling author of more than twenty-five books, including the legendary Warday, Nature's End, and The Coming Global Superstorm, the basis of the movie The Day After Tomorrow. His most recent books, The Grays and 2012: The War for Souls, are both being made into films. His website, Unknown Country, is the largest of its kind in the world, exploring the edge of science and reality.

WHITLEY STRIEBER is the author of over twenty novels and works of nonfiction among them The Wolfen, The Hunger, Communion, and The Coming Global Superstorm (with Art Bell), which was the inspiration for the film The Day After Tomorrow.

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Critical Mass 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Bibliophante More than 1 year ago
I would consider Whitley Strieber rather bold for taking on a such a heavily dramatic scenario as he does in Critical Mass. The book ripples with intensity vis-a-vis politics and religion, those two no-no topics for day-to-day conversations. Even though this is a fictional work, the state of international affairs is quite real, and consequently, created a heaviness in my heart and mind as I read the book. The situation played out in Critical Mass is plausible to me, and I think that's why I read the whole thing with a voracious appetite. That, and I couldn't help but picture Harrison Ford as the book's main character-- a character who, I believe, closely resembles Ford's Jack Ryan. Needless to say, the pace and action are intense, and I'm glad to have had Striber give the reader the perspectives of all the many players in the game, not just American government official and operatives but also other world leaders, the terrorists, and the Average Joe. If you're ready for a strong dose of heavy drama and globe-spanning intelligence operations, then this Thriller is a read for you.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Contractor Jim Deutsch works for the CIA as a NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) expert whose prime specialty is nukes though he has been involved in preventing the sale or development of the other weapons of mass destruction. He learns that Islamic terrorist Madhi has obtained weapons graded plutonium that he has smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico and concludes homeland security has failed to protect the border. Mahdi announces he has nukes planted throughout the western United States.

To prove his assertion, he nukes Las Vegas. A stunned President William Fitzgerald considers nuking the Muslim world back into the stone age, globalized tension rises as the crisis seems out of control with Middle East governments considering their options and Mahdi ready to destroy another city if his demands for a Muslim fundamentalist world, Mahdi style is not met.

CRITICAL MASS is a fascinating look at efforts to counter the flow of nuclear weapons around the globe. The story line is action-packed with dedicated Jim and his Muslim wife struggling to prevent further tragedy from happening. Although the language turns oddly poetic at crisis moments which jars the reader, Whitley Strieber provides an exciting thriller based on the very plausible concept of nukes ending up in the hands of a fanatic.

Harriet Klausner
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jackgold More than 1 year ago
This was an only OK book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
People thought nothing would top the attacks on September 11th. they were wrong. Whitley Strieber's bestseller is a "frighteningly plausible conspiracy thriller that it feels like an exposé (revealing)" (Douglas Preston, New York Times). It opens with the introduction of Jim Deutsch, an expert in the field of nuclear weapons and a CIA agent. Under his many identities, he is unknown by the rest of the world. He quickly finds that an Islamic terrorist -- the Madhi -- has bypassed a corrupted border patrol station and planted plutonium bombs within highly populated cities of the United States. Racing against time, Deutsch struggles to stop Madhi's hidden terrorist group -- the Inshalla. It is their goal to convert the world to Islam and rid it of the "Crusaders" who have brought evil to the land. With little to no information to go on, Jim faces disaster. Before he can make it on time, the terrorists set off a bomb twice the size of Hiroshima in Las Vegas. World leaders are warned and Earth spirals into a chaotic disaster. The Madhi offers peace as long as every country renounces their faith to Allah. In effort to gain more time for Deutsch and the rest of the undercover intelligence force, the President agrees to the terrorist's demands. Jim fights to change the world's future, but the bombers resist backing down. It is no longer a battle for safety; it is a battle of peace, religion, and love. Some of the major themes within the novel include the idea that fear causes people to become unwise. Within the story the President is faced with a decision that could determine the outcome of millions of lives. "Mr. President. I'm not sure well," is something nobody would every think of hearing from his most supportive cabinet (Whitley 302). When bombs, terrorism, and massacres are utilized, chaos and hysteria are the automatic response by the entire world. Another moral displayed within this mass seller is the concept that love empowers people to do things they never do ordinarily. Beyond all of the problems, stress, and letdowns of life, love is there to pick a person back on their feet. Towards the end of the novel, Jim's "draws [his ex-wife] away from him" when he is faced with a bomb set to destroy the entire capital (Whitley 347). With a torn Achilles and possible internal bleeding, Jim runs to a moving plane carrying his love and a bomb. Passion for Nabila is what allowed him to overcome his pain, not his own strength. Critical Mass is an amazing overall read. The plot itself is so well developed that it is quite impossible to put the book down. What I like most about this specific author is his ability to establish clear credibility in his writing. This includes his well-educated background on the subject and use of clear-cut statistics. The only thing I would dislike about this book is that Whitley never establishes the characters personal appearance all to great. The reader is able to understand the personalities of some of the main characters such as Jim, Nabila, and Madhi, but it is almost impossible to imagine their physical traits. However, I would still recommend this book to any young adult and older as it is a thriller one will never forget. The book itself takes the audience on a ride to a very hazardous, troubling, and quite possible future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Both my wife and I were grabbed by this story. I was up a couple of late nights because I was so hooked on the story. It is similar to other terrorist themes but well put together and gripping. We can only hope it never happens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KenCady More than 1 year ago
There is a blurb on the cover of Critical Mass by Douglas Preston, whose book Blasphemy I liked so much. When he tells me that I am holding in my hands "a frighteningly plausible conspiracy thriller" it gets my attention, so I bought the book. What I got was a little different, or so I think. Whitley Streiber has a grand idea for a thriller, with nukes being hidden in large cities and the world scared out of its mind. It's Muslims v. Christians again, but this book does not read like a classic thriller. It's no page turner. Rather, Streiber takes the time to put some intelligence of the brain kind in the story, so he often interrupts the thrill to explain this or that on behalf of the character, or the situation. Well, I can't fault that. I found the book to be more interesting than thrilling, and, even in the last 30 pages I had no trouble putting the book down to do something else. But it is a good book, worthy of buying.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
loves_to_readEV More than 1 year ago
It's hard to me to say... I really liked most of the book (i will not give away much) but there were things I thought were really stupid. I felt toward the end a little impatient.... but overall it held my attention.
JAlfred More than 1 year ago
Possible scenario but almost a stretch. Good entertainment.
Armyvet More than 1 year ago
Critical Mass by Whitley Strieber is not a credible story. It is impossible to introduce a nuclear weapon on US soil because of NEST, the Nuclear Emergency Search Team. The difficulty in smuggling a nuclear weapon or nuclear components into the United States was researched while I wrote my novel The Cruise, ISBN 9781438914718, thru Author House under the pen name Edouard DesLauriers. The Cruise is a novel about nuclear terrorism on a cruise ship. The technologies used by NEST would unmask any nuclear material brought into the United States in very quick order. A lot of research went into The Cruise to include some cloaking methods the terrorists used which, frankly, I don't think would work against NEST capabilities. But even my cloaking methods were based on science, and a good fiction story must have solid roots in fact. Critical Mass is on very shaky ground based on what NEST can do. It protects the United States against a nuclear attack with classified overflights monitoring the United States 24/7. Satellite surveillance is also included. Without NEST Critical Mass is a good read; but with the existing technologies used by NEST, Critical Mass falls short.