The Whole Truth – by David Baldacci

“Why waste time discovering the truth when you can so easily create it?” — quote from the novel The Whole Truth by David Baldacci.

When one of the wealthiest men on earth decides to bring the old world powers to the brink of war, he chooses a master manipulator to sell the idea in a big way. At a time when even journalism takes its cues from what’s flying around in cyberspace, and at a time when it is almost impossible to separate truth from fiction, it’s simply too easy to believe what’s put before you. Things like verification of facts fall by the wayside.

Racing to ward off a rapidly escalating conflict of world powers, two people scarred from real and inner battles must set their differences aside to find the truth — the whole truth —  about a series of seemingly inhuman events “heralding a new doomsday era”. That these events were as orchestrated as anything the Boston Pops ever did never entered the “collective mind” of the world.

Journalist Katie James has plunged from the Pulitzer heights of hot spots around the globe to the cold rocks of covering VIP funerals. She’s a washed-up has-been looking out for an opportunity to ply her unique skills of getting to the guts of a story. But from a past war-zone where she walked away bloody but alive, she carried home a nightmare only alcohol kept at bay.

An unwilling agent for a highly secret intelligence agency, A. Shaw is a big man with no real name, but with very real uncanny skills. Coerced into suicidal jobs for the agency with the threat of prison, Shaw hoped he would be allowed to “retire” after six years of keeping one step ahead of the black-cowled Reaper. He had finally found a new reason to live. But, in his line of work, he had to get out now, because “tomorrow was just another day to die”.

As Shaw and Katie are thrown together through bizarre and fatal events, Katie sums it up this way:

“I’m an alcoholic. I’m unemployed . . . I don’t have . . . any friends. And I’m terrified, Shaw . . . I’m scared to death . . . and if you tell me to go to hell, I’ll tell you that we’ve both been there, and it’s just as bad as everyone thinks it is.”

In David Baldacci’s first international thriller, the prolific author who created “The Camel Club” series makes a hard-hitting and thought-provoking impact. The Whole Truth is unrelenting action swirling in a maelstrom of lies that is based on a “new” terminology little known to the rank and file. (Meaning me). The term is “perception management”, called PM, and, according to the author, has been adopted and adapted from the Department of Defense by many public relations firms.

“PM’s are not spin doctors,” said Baldacci in his Author’s Notes, “because they don’t spin facts. They create facts and then sell them to the world as truth.” He goes on to say that “a major untruth can be established so quickly and overwhelmingly across the world that no digging by anyone after the fact can make a dent in the public consciousness that it actually isn’t true at all. And that’s precisely what makes it so dangerous.”

Many years before the term “perception management” was coined and lying was brought to new levels in the extent of its dangerous capabilities, an old book counseled that we should start thinking like adults, not children, always changing our minds about what we believe because someone told us something different, or cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth.

Does anyone remember the name of that old book?

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