cover image The Sentinels: Fortunes of War

The Sentinels: Fortunes of War

Gordon Zuckerman, . . Greenleaf, $22.95 (296pp) ISBN 978-1-929774-64-7

Zuckerman's uneven debut, the first in a possible series of political thrillers, starts off with an intriguing premise. In 1938, the Sentinels, a group of six economics doctoral students at the University of California, Berkeley, claim to have discovered “a pattern that explains and can even predict repeating cycles of the rise and fall of world powers.” In particular, the Sentinels assert that German industrialists are pushing Europe into war. They propose a watchdog organization “to eradicate these cancers when lower-level means can still be used effectively.” Of course, it's too late for anyone to stop WWII. Once the bad guys learn of our heroes' intentions, they seek to forestall the Sentinels in a plot full of predictable abduction and rescue sequences. Tepid romantic subplots and cardboard lead characters don't help. (July)