State of Fear

State of Fear by Michael Crichton
Published in 2004 by Avon Books
623 pages

Maybe it’s just me, but this has to be one of the longest books I’ve read this year. Long as in tedious. It didn’t get exciting until page 500, and that’s a long time to work with something that’s touted as a thriller and acclaimed by such reliable sources as USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Chicago Tribune.

The basic issue of this book is global warming; we must examine it from all sides, political and scientific, emotional and intellectual, until we come up with the premise that it’s all subjective. No one knows how much of global warming is man-made, or how much of it is a natural phenomenon.

Perhaps the most interesting point of view that Crichton presented is that we are ruled by fear:

“…social control is best managed through fear. For fifty years, Western nations had maintained their citizens in a state of perpetual fear. Fear of the other side. Fear of nuclear war. The Communist menace. The Iron Curtain. The Evil Empire. And within the Communist countries, the same in reverse. Fear of us. Then, suddenly, in the fall of 1989, it was all finished. Gone, vanished. Over. The fall of the Berlin Wall created a vacuum of fear. Nature abhors a vacuum. Something had to fill it.

Evans frowned. “You’re saying that environmental crises took the place of the Cold War?”

“That is what the evidence shows. Of course, now we have radical fundamentalism and post-9/11 terrorism to make us afraid, and those are certainly real reasons for fear, but that is not my point. My point is, there is always a cause for fear. The cause may change over time, but the fear is always with us. Before terrorism we feared the toxic environment. Before that we had the communist menace. The point is, although the specific cause of our fear may change, we are never without the fear itself. Fear pervades society in all its aspects. Perpetually.” (p. 500).

Okay, that’s a fascinating premise. And one that’s rung true for me lately.