Saltmaker

Bob Reiss, Author, Robert Reiss, Author Viking Books $17.95 (316p) ISBN 978-0-670-80247-0
For all the literally explosive nature of its themethe possibility of nuclear warits crisp prose and its relative brevity, this thriller by the author of Summer Fires and Divine Assassin is strangely heavy going. Faced with what seems incontrovertible evidence that the Russians have launched a nuclear attack against America, and with only minutes to decide what to do about it, President Madden surrenders rather than risk bringing about the end of the world. When the ""missiles'' turn out to be meteors, he resigns and is put on trial for treason. The immediate result of his decision to ``make salt'' rather than war (salt having been Gandhi's peace symbol) is that the Soviets step up their aggression in the Middle East and there's an American-Soviet military confrontation in drought-stricken Ethiopia; yet the long-range result may be that world leaders will finally come to see nuclear weapons in human rather than political terms. The secondary characters, such as members of the president's family and the principals at his trial, are firmly drawn, and there are moments of excitement as attempts are made on the lives of Madden and others, but by and large Reiss shows himself better at provoking thought than at creating suspense. 25,000 first printing; $35,000 ad/promo. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
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