‘The President is Missing’ Book Review

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Co-written by James Patterson, a fiction writer whose books have sold more than 300 million copies, and Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States. We can assume that most of the writing was done by Patterson, due to his experience, the book seems more realistic because of Clinton’s involvement, as he was able to help create a somewhat authentic image of the White House.  

The President Is Missing starts with President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan, a former soldier in Iraq, preparing for a meeting in front of the House of Representatives. He has to explain the phone call with the world’s most wanted terrorist, Suliman Cindoruk. Despite facing possible impeachment, he is focused on stopping a terrorist attack. Two people claim that they can help him, but the President must leave the White House, something only his closest colleagues are aware of, to stop what is known as the “Dark Ages”.  

Even though the assassinator is portrayed as a complex character with a past of her own, the narrative seems to be written from more of an outsider’s perspective, in comparison to the main character. In this sense, the character’s potential to be fully engaging is not developed. However, this could have also been the authors’ attempt to portray her as strange and foreign, so that the typical American/Western reader could not associate with the villain. 

In sharp contrast, the reader can get inside the main character’s head from the start of the novel because he states all of his emotions and fears. The authors portray a humane image of a world leader. If this was a planned attempt, then the authors have successfully created a true POLITICAL novel, as the US President is relatable to the reader, while the foreign assassin is strange and distant.

Readers can only guess to what extent this is true and to what extent it is just Clinton’s overconfident attempt to portray the President as a hero, willing to die for his country. Possibly aimed at softening his image as President or mocking the personality of the current US President.

Unsurprisingly, the novel relies on some stereotypes, including Russia being bad, Israel is America’s best friend, and the terrorist coming from a Muslim country. These become more and more cliché and annoying with each repetition by the authors. The focus on the President’s military past is also repeated throughout, to highlight his heroism, which adds to the character’s personality but is overused.

Despite being over 500 pages long, the novel is quick and easy to read. This is not only because of the simple language and short chapters but also due to the fast pace of the action. The political thriller genre keeps the reader engaged. Those unfamiliar with the Presidential world should not be put off as the novel starts with some political jargon but is understandable to a wider audience. 

Anyone picking this book expecting action will be disappointed, except for one scene in the middle of the novel.

For those not planning to read the book, a television series has been announced by Showtime.

Image Credit: Slash Films