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An Expensive Education
     

An Expensive Education

3.6 6
by Nick McDonell
 

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Mike Teak has a classic Harvard profile. He’s a twenty-five-year-old scholar/athlete from an upper-class family who was recruited by his godfather to work for a U.S. intelligence agency. On a covert mission in a Somali village, he delivers cash and cell phones to Hatashil, a legendary orphan warrior turned rebel leader. It’s a routine assignment until,

Overview

Mike Teak has a classic Harvard profile. He’s a twenty-five-year-old scholar/athlete from an upper-class family who was recruited by his godfather to work for a U.S. intelligence agency. On a covert mission in a Somali village, he delivers cash and cell phones to Hatashil, a legendary orphan warrior turned rebel leader. It’s a routine assignment until, minutes after they meet, the village is decimated by a missile assault, and although Mike escapes, his life is changed forever.
Echoing across continents, the assault disrupts professor Susan Lowell, who has just won a Pulitzer Prize for her book celebrating Hatashil. Also shaken is Lowell’s student,
David Ayan, who was born in the targeted village a world away from Harvard’s most exclusive final club, the Porcellian, which is courting him and Jane, the smart, risk-taking daughter of East Coast money who’s sleeping with him. David Ayan struggles with his identity and Susan Lowell struggles against rumors about her relationship with Hatashil, who has been accused of ordering the village massacre. But it is Mike Teak who faces a deadly struggle—because when he discovers a horrific conspiracy he immediately realizes that he has become expendable, with nowhere to run and no one to trust.

Editorial Reviews

Ron Charles
An Expensive Education, about a young intelligence agent from Harvard, is nothing groundbreaking—for McDonell or the spy-novel genre—but it's smart and sexy and could be the beginning of a franchise more lucrative than literary fiction…blends a terse story of international intrigue with a biting satire of Harvard, from which McDonell graduated in 2007. As he's shown in his previous novels, he can be a ruthless chronicler of America's aristocratic culture.
—The Washington Post
Blake Wilson
Half campus novel, half geopolitical thriller, An Expensive Education proceeds…for 300 almost unerringly entertaining pages. McDonell skips from Washington to Nairobi as easily as he crosses the river between Cambridge and Boston, usually by means of short chapters and skillful cuts, but sometimes joining his characters in the comfortable business-class cabins of their transcontinental flights. Which is also to say, for all the fine reportorial detail about African dialects and the best way to negotiate with bandit militias, McDonell's true subjects are the status markers and status obsessions of his beautiful young cast.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

McDonell's third novel, a story of the messy consequences attendant upon a rogue American operation conducted against a Somalian freedom fighter, introduces a spy who could have easily walked off the pages of le Carré's better works. An American agent and recent Harvard graduate, Michael Teak has been assigned to deliver money to a band of east African freedom fighters led by local hero Hatashil. But while they're meeting, the village is decimated by a missile strike. Immediately, a mysterious story hits the wire, claiming Hatashil's men massacred the villagers. The news coincides with the Pulitzer Prize being awarded to a Harvard professor, Susan Lowell, whose book celebrates Hatashil. As Teak tries to come to terms with his own apparent expendability, Lowell fights vilification when a video that purportedly shows her pledging to kill for Hatashil surfaces. Meanwhile, an old Agency hand, Alan Green-Harvard alum and godfather to Teak-ties the stories together with his nefarious black world maneuverings. Teak is the most attractive fictional spy in quite some time, and even if the Harvard subplots feel too self-indulgent and insidery, one hopes this isn't Teak's only appearance. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
McDonell's dark, relentlessly readable latest (The Third Brother, 2005, etc.) swings back and forth between Harvard and Africa, and in both cases the education is indeed expensive. At Harvard, brainy, beautiful professor Susan Lowell prepares to attend the party celebrating her just-earned Pulitzer. Meticulously researched, her book centers on an East African freedom fighter named Hatashil, an authentic folk hero, in Susan's enthusiastic rendering. But hold everything. Reports have begun circulating of a brutal, bloody atrocity that has wiped out every man, woman and child in a small African village near the Kenya-Somalia border. Informed sources are labeling it "Hatashil's Massacre." Suddenly General Hatashil is looking downright genocidal, and is that egg besmirching Susan's lovely face? Once noticeably in Hatashil's corner, the U.S. government is backpedaling furiously to get out of it, leaving Susan noticeably alone. Criticism mounts, along with ugly talk about an undeserved prize that perhaps ought to be rescinded. The Crimson attacks her; students want to drop her courses. Cut to Michael Teak, a young Harvard graduate currently in the employ of U.S. intelligence. A linguist and athlete, Michael is also outstandingly courageous and lethally resourceful-a thinking man's Rambo, as it were. In addition, he's the only living witness to what actually happened in that ill-fated African village. But will he do the right thing? Will Susan? The 20-something author keeps his smart, ambitious, self-absorbed characters at arm's-length, doling out understanding and compassion to them while withholding real affection. A novel for the head more than the heart, but so very intelligent that for acertain kind of reader it will be catnip. East Coast tour including Boston and New York City. Agent: Eric Simonoff/Janklow & Nesbit

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802199942
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
05/04/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
File size:
276 KB

Meet the Author

NICK MCDONELL was born in 1984 in New York City. A graduate of Harvard University, he is the author of two previous novels, Twelve and The Third Brother.

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An Expensive Education 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
RNichols More than 1 year ago
Well, I did it...It was not easy, but I finished it. I really think McDonell had a story to tell, but it never came across. It definitely reminded me of someone who is tongue-tied, has so much to say/tell, but never quite gets it all out. The book was very cliche and seems to be written by someone who has never gotten their hands dirty....Good Luck if you pick this one up! Rating it 2 stars due to the plot.
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