State of Fear
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State of Fear by Michael Crichton
Thriller, suspense mystery
First Avon Books paperback printing, November 2005
Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN-10: 0061015733, ISBN-13: 9780061015731
The "Crichton effect" -- this term has come to signify the distinctive blend of fear, fantasy, and authentic cutting-edge science driving the blockbuster novels of Michael Crichton. Hailed as "the father of the techno-thriller", Crichton boasts an impressive history of global bestsellers -- from The Andromeda Strain to Jurassic Park to Prey -- that explore the frightening possibilities of breakthrough research led astray by abuse and corruption. Drawing on his past as a Harvard Medical School student and his ongoing study of the world of technology, Crichton's gripping fiction is grounded in scientific fact culled from the latest academic journals.
|Mass Market Paperback:||672 pages|
|Publication Date:||October 25, 2005|
|Product Length:||6.82 inches|
|Product Width:||4.25 inches|
|Product Height:||1.44 inches|
|Product Weight:||0.71 pounds|
|Package Length:||6.7 inches|
|Package Width:||4.1 inches|
|Package Height:||1.7 inches|
|Package Weight:||0.8 pounds|
|Average Customer Rating:|| based on 1414 reviews|
|Average Customer Review: ( 1414 customer reviews )
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
275 of 314 found the following review helpful:
THINK! THINK FOR YOURSELF!!! May 01, 2005
By C. B. Manning
First of all, this book is fiction, just like the Da Vinci Code. Yes, there are factual nuggets. However, the nuggets are conveyed in a manner that is very much like the propaganda that some of the characters rail against.
Second, having been trained in the Earth Science; a member of local, national, and global environmental groups; and an Environmental Science teacher I LOVED THIS BOOK! Why? Because it makes you think about what you know, why you know it, and where the information comes from. Nobody should take information published second-hand and not think about how data can be misconstrued (including the data published in this book).
Third, State of Fear makes you think about the hypocrisy of American Environmentalism: living in enormous houses in the middle of forest-fire prone landscapes, driving everywhere, wasting water, and then paying money to large environmental groups who overstate scientific findings (just like the energy companies do). Assuaging our guilt isn't going to make the world a better place.
Finally, Crichton encourages us to not be sheep. Think for yourself. Read the primary sources of data with an open-mind. Live the way you wish everyone else lived. Judgement without compassion is worthless.
240 of 280 found the following review helpful:
A Scientist's View of "State of Fear" Jan 21, 2005
Crichton has written a surprisingly serious and well researched indictment of the favorite sacred cow of the environmental movement -- global warming -- embedded within a typically action charged Crichton novel. The author uses Socratic dialogue and other devices to educate the reader as to what the data are showing in this complex, politically charged issue. The principal characters come well armed with graphs and data selected to back up their points, often lecturing the less informed, though environmentally concerned, characters (and the reader) on the true state of the art of the science. At the same time, the author indicts the environmental NGOs, the media, the research funding agencies, and political leaders for promoting their agenda with slanted, inaccurate portrayals of what the science is saying. He paints a jaundiced view of the motivations and methods of radical environmentalist organizations and their supporters. At a higher level, the book's title derives from a semiconspiratorial view, espoused by an eccentric, not quite credible character, that the climate warming issue is actually part of a complex social dynamic aimed a creating and maintaining a continual sense of anxiety and fear among the population at large. These literary devices call to mind Ayn Rand's influential novels, in which for example Howard Rourke is used to lecture us on the virtues of individualism and integrity.
As a scientist familiar with the climate warming issue, having managed research in the area, I believe Crichton's book makes an important statement to the many who believe that the issue is settled, that human-induced warming is real and that catastrophe will follow. He is absolutely correct in casting significant doubt on the definitiveness of the science and in indicting the politicization of the science surrounding it. He rightfully warns us to be skeptical about what we are told from the variety of mainstream sources we are exposed to. I suspect that it will be difficult for anyone whose mind is not closed on the global warming issue to read this book without gaining a different perspective. However, it would also be wrong for the reader to conclude that the opposite is true -- that the issue is a complete fabrication. The fact is that we understand little about the nature and extent of any effects of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and that much more research is needed, including work on new technology to provide humanity with the ability to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. This research needs to be conducted on a level playing field, in which funders and researchers seek only the best answers we can get.
1109 of 1340 found the following review helpful:
Crichton reverses field Dec 10, 2004
By David J. Gannon
Michael Crichton has always used the latent but, in his view, underappreciated dangers associated with scientific advancement as a theme in his books (microbiology in The Andromeda Strain, genetic engineering in Jurassic park, and so on).
In State of Fear he reverses field and uses the incorrectly perceived threats of environmental disaster as the underlying impetus for a novel. In Crichton's view, the whole global warming argument is false. His view is that environmentalism has degenerated into a quasi religious system devoid of scientific veracity. Thus, the proponents of the global warming hysteria are pushing faith over fact, many of them have lost their moorings and the inevitable result is a grand conspiracy.
At the heart of this conspiracy is Nick Drake, head of a radical environmentalist group. Outraged that a significant source of funding has been closed by the donors getting Drakes science debunked by a MIT professor, drakes sets out on a murderous course that is designed to both do away with his detractors and enemies while concomitantly creating a profound state of fear about global warming among the public.
As is generally the case with Crichton, an avalanche of scientific data is imparted in Crichton's usual informative yet entertaining manner. Many will debate the validity of Crichton's "science" as regards the issue of global warming. As Crichton so deftly displays in this novel, this issue has become more political than scientific in many ways and there's no reason this novel won't be analyzed in that light.
The story has all the traditional strengths and weaknesses of a Crichton novel. Crichton is an accomplished technician and that comes through in this novel. It can justifiably be called a page turner. However, the methodology of using characters to do the education creates a scenario wherein the characters become somewhat robotic and predictable, not truly fully fleshed out human beings.
However, that's quibbling. This is a very fine novel. I suspect one's enjoyment will be colored to a great degree with how strongly one leans to or away from Crichton's premise. That aside, this ranks as one of his better works.
111 of 132 found the following review helpful:
At last, a realistic perspective on global warming! Jan 24, 2005
By Mosquito man
As a scientist, this was a joy to read!
I am a specialist in mosquito-borne diseases. I worked for the CDC in the US for 22 years. Now I work for the Pasteur Institute in France.
For more than 12 years I have been battling the mis-information on my speciality that is doled out by global warming alarmists. I believe I am winning: predictions of the "spread" of malaria, dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases were once top of the list of dangers predicted by these ignorant, uninformed people.
Sadly, the alarmists have now switched to sea-level rise and other dangers, despite the protests of professional scientists. Crighton's book reveals the disgraceful way that this mis-information is peddled. Let me summarize in my own words:
More than a million articles are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals every year. The lay-public is unaware of this colossal output; popular information on research findings is limited to "newsworthy" articles, selected, described and interpreted by the media.
Professional scientists rarely draw firm conclusions from a single article, but consider its contribution in the context of other publications and their own experience, knowledge, and speculations. The complexity of this process, and the uncertainties involved, are a major obstacle to meaningful understanding of scientific issues by non-scientists.
In the age of information, popular knowledge of scientific issues-particularly on issues of health and the environment-is awash in a tide of misinformation, much of it presented in the 'big talk' of professional scientists. Alarmist activists operating in well-funded advocacy groups have a lead role in creating and promoting this misinformation. In many cases, they blatantly manipulate public perceptions with emotive and fiercely judgmental 'scientific' pronouncements, adding a tone of danger and urgency to attract media coverage. Their skill in promoting notions of scientific 'fact' sidesteps the complexities of the issues involved, and is a potent influence in education, public opinion and the political process. These notions are often re-enforced by attention to peer-reviewed scientific articles that appear to support their pronouncements, regardless of whether these articles are widely endorsed by the relevant scientific community. Scientists who challenge these alarmists are rarely given priority by the media, and are often presented as 'skeptics'.
The democratic process requires elected representatives to respond to the concerns and fears generated in this process. Denial is rarely an effective strategy, even in the face of preposterous claims. The pragmatic option is to express concern, create new regulations, and increase funding for research. Lawmakers may also endorse the advocacy groups, giving positive feedback to their cause. Whatever the response, political activists-not scientists-are often the most influential cohort in science-based political issues, including the public funding of scientific research.
In reality, a genuine concern for mankind and the environment demands the inquiry, accuracy and skepticism that are intrinsic to authentic science. A public that is unaware of this is vulnerable to abuse.
In a totally unexpected manner, Crichton has succeeded where we scientists have failed: he has communicated with the lay-public.
He deserves a medal for his service to humanity.
714 of 900 found the following review helpful:
A Provocative and InformativeThriller about Avoiding Fear Dec 09, 2004
By Donald Mitchell
"Jesus Loves You!"
This book reminded me very much of Moby Dick with its heavy emphasis on both an adventure story and sharing detailed information. Those who prefer one aspect or the other will probably find themselves flipping quickly through the pages that emphasize the other aspect.
Popular opinions are almost always wrong. That's the theme of this book. The point is made in the context of describing how global warming, as perceived by the public and media, is different from what scientists are describing. Dr. Crichton argues through his story that we can waste a lot of time and resources on popular delusions, and we need to get our facts right. His appendix I on the dangers of politicized science is something everyone should read. The eugenics example is a chilling one.
The adventure story itself is a Frederick Forsyth/Clive Cussler-type thriller written from the perspective of a young lawyer who tags along with a James Bond-like character who single-handedly saves the day along with his trusty, almost silent, sidekick. They are about as good a source for scintillating conversation as the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Instead of greedy multinationals or rich megalomaniacs being at fault, this story looks at how lawyers and rabid environmentalists can get carried away.
In typical Michael Crichton fashion, the story develops around little-known scientific facts about how humans can influence the environment. So if you wanted to know more about how giant ice bergs, tsunamis and flash floods can be created, this is your book. At the same time, there are nice subplots around how to track terrorists via the Internet and an obscure way to assassinate people.
I found myself drawn to both the adventure story and the global warming information. It's a nice combination for the reader who likes a little substance along with their thrillers. Even I, though, thought the global warming was overdone. The characters needed a lot of work to become interesting, rather than just being devices to drive the plot along. I graded the book down accordingly.
I kept thinking as I read this book that I would like to read a book like this by Dr. Crichton that looks at people manufacturing domestic terrorism for political gain. Perhaps that will be his next subject.
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