4 out of 4 stars
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Homer’s Iliad chronicles the battle of Troy. After the battle has raged for a while, Odysseus realizes that if victory is even possible for the Greek army, it will come at an enormous cost. Famed as a strategist, Odysseus earns his acclaim when he instructs the army to build a giant horse. The Greeks leave the horse behind and move their ships and armies away from the city, allowing the Trojans to assume that the horse is an offering to the sea god Poseidon (because horses are sacred to Poseidon) to persuade the god to allow them a safe journey home. To sabotage the sacrifice, the Trojans remove the horse and bring it into their city, not realizing that Greek soldiers are sequestered within. Late in the night, the Greeks emerge from the horse seize the city. Today, the symbol of the Trojan Horse stands for something sinister hiding in plain sight.
David Wallace’s book Trojan: The Enemy Within also deals with an enemy hiding among friends. Victor is the mastermind behind THOR, a computer defense system that will protect the United States from enemy attack and specifically, nuclear attack. When the U.S. government’s computer defense systems suddenly crash all at once, the only explanation is that there is a mole inside the government. Victor knows he’s innocent, but to the rest of the world, he looks like one of very few people who could have pulled off such a plot. Now, Victor must clear his name, find the real mole, save his family, and repair the nation’s defense system before it’s too late.
This book is exciting from start to finish. There’s conspiracy, gunfights, car chases, explosions, and unexpected allies. The plot twists and reshapes itself so that the reader stays interested and fully engaged. At the same time, all of the excitement is also balanced by elements that speak to the humanity of the reader. Patriotism, integrity, and love of family are central to the concept of the book. They are manifested in many of the characters and help structure the plotlines. This allows the book to become much more than just another thriller. It’s also the story of people and their relationships with one another in the face of fear and tragedy.
What I admire most, though, about this book are some of the hidden themes. These play important roles, but they are not overtly emphasized. For example, one of these themes is seeing all people as people. Whether it’s homeless people who might choose to get drunk rather than put the money towards clothing, food, or shelter or the president of the United States, our protagonist sees each person as a human being. Every person has both merits and flaws, and it does people a disservice to deny them either the dignity attendant on the mere fact of their humanity or the permission to make mistakes and second-guess themselves. Such depth of character in the protagonist challenges the reader to check his/her own attitudes toward people and makes the protagonist (and by extension, the book) more appealing to a thinking reader.
With such praise, I expect that it’s obvious that I am rating this book 4 out of 4 stars. Mr. Wallace wrote Trojan with skill and fluency that led to a believable story, expertly crafted out of the complex mysteries of government intelligence and defense. It is exciting, fascinating, and thought-provoking all at once, and I think any reader might find it a rewarding reading experience.
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