Act of Treason: An Excellent Political Thriller
Vince Flynn is one of my favorite fiction authors, along with Christopher Buckley and Ayn Rand. What sets him apart from other spy/thriller type novelists is his ability to craft an excellent political thriller. While some of his books, which I might reread and review at a later date, are more traditional spy thrillers, Act of Treason is not.
Instead, it, like Term Limits, is a political thriller. In fact, based in the same “universe,” many of the characters are the same. It is a book about political intrigue, the swampy, despicable nature of Washington politics, and the value, or danger, of a man willing to kill when others are not.
It’s also a book about the value of “Black Ops,” or CIA operations that Congress doesn’t know about and likely wouldn’t approve of. In the world of Mitch Rapp, the protagonist of many of Flynn’s books, things must be done that the soft, effeminate members of Congress might not be happy about. What would happen if Congress did find out, to some extent, at least, is a key part of Act of Treason.
The fact is, there are bad people in the world. As Dick Cheney says in Vice:
“I can feel your recriminations and your judgment … and I am fine with them. You wanna be loved. You wanna be a movie star. The world is as you find it. You have to deal with that reality. There are monsters in this world. We saw three thousand innocent people burned to death by those monsters. And yet you object when I refuse to kiss those monsters on the cheek and say “Pretty please.”
You answer me this: what terrorist attack would you have let go forward so you wouldn’t seem like a mean and nasty fella? I will not apologize for keeping your family safe and I will not apologize for doing what needed to be done so that your loved ones can sleep peaceably at night.”
That idea, the idea that there are many “bad guys” out there that need to be dealt with brutally is the core idea of Act of Treason. When dealing with men that have no rules, having your hands tied doesn’t work. Mitch Rapp is a successful agent because of his willingness to do what it takes. The bureaucrats in the CIA and the more law-abiding members of other agencies might not understand that. They investigate him or try to stop him because they and their political masters don’t understand what needs to be done.
Act of Treason is a great novel because not only is it entertaining, fast-paced, and well-written, but because in it Flynn expresses the frustration that many Americans feel right now. Whether it is the war with jihadists or grey zone conflicts around the world, our soldiers and agents have their hands tied by unnecessary rules that the enemy doesn’t abide by. As a result, our casualties are higher than they should be and we rarely, if ever, succeed.
Don’t worry, Act of Treason isn’t too deep. It’s a political thriller, not a discussion of the morality of rules of engagement. But those ideas are, in one way or another, presented. For Rapp, torture gets the job done but rules and bureaucrats don’t. That’s a lesson America might want to relearn.
To me, the thought-provoking nature of it is what made Act of Treason great. Yes, it’s an excellent political thriller about spies, bankers, corruption, and intrigue. But it also exposes deep flaws in the American way of war and governance of our warfighters. It’s a fun read, but also a though-provoking one. Read it.
By: Gen Z Conservative