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01 September 2012

Ben Coes: Coup D'Etat

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Dewey saves the World (and America) almost singlehanded- again!
Ben Coes writes action packed escapist thrillers.  If you like escapist thrillers and don't really worry about major flaws in the background and research, then settle back and enjoy this book.

Dewey Andreas is a super hero. In Power Down he almost single handedly saved the world and America from a coordinated terrorist attack on key petroleum refineries throughout the world.  In this book Dewey is brought out of retirement in Australia to save the world from a nuclear Armageddon.  I nearly choked at this quote, nearly half way through the book when the US is planning a Coup d'Etat in Pakistan to prevent a full scale nuclear war between India and Pakistan that would inevitably involve both the US and China:

"There is someone Mr President, I hadn't thought of him until this very moment" "Does he work for the CIA?" "No but he's an American and a patriot. (He is) the one person alive who could, well make this (coup d'etat) ... something more than a Hail Mary.... Dewey Andreas"

From then on Dewey and two other CIA agents set out to save the World on their own by engineering a Coup d'Etat in Pakistan within a 48 hour time limit in the middle of a major war with India.  Only one of the agents speaks the local language - their major communication skills were gunfire. What a scenario....

When I reviewed Coes' first book, Power Down I commented on the many flaws in the plot and background research.  I was especially critical of Coes' description of Dewey's move to Australia (I am an Aussie) and use of US terms in an Australian environment and hoped that his research would be better in his next book.  At the time I doubted that I would read another of his books but was tempted when Macmillan Australia discounted this book almost to Indie prices.

I expect and understand poorly researched books by Indie authors.  I don't expect books edited and published by a major world publishing house in both the US and Australia to have so many flaws, especially with its coverage of Australia and its institutions. Here are some of the flaws I found in the Australian chapters of this book:

1. While this time Coes does acknowledge that a cattle ranch in Australia is called a cattle station, he continues to use "ranch" , including "ranch hand" (which should be stockman). I don't understand why he should be so US centric in a book to be published around the world.
2. Dewey climbs a Butte near Cooktown in Australia.  There are no Buttes in Australia, the closest equivalents are Volcanic Plugs, such as the Glasshouse Mountains but they are in southern not northern Queensland.
3. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (not the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service) is responsible for the Australian passport renewals website.
4. Work visas are handled by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship, not the Australian Customs Office.  Working holiday visas are not available to US citizens, so Dewey would probably have to be nominated by his employer and their name would be stored in the visa database.
5. While Dewey may have bought a Filson wax coat with him from the US, as an Australian stockman he would normally wear a Driza-Bone coat.

If it is so easy for me to find Australian based flaws I shudder to think what flaws there are about India, Pakistan and Lebanon. Two that stand out to me are the Republic of (not Royal) Singapore Air Force and a fundamental error that the Indian Prime Minister, not the President is the main decision maker in the country.

Coes CV says that he has been a speechwriter for the Reagan and George W Bush White Houses, and for Milt Romney.  Political speeches are known for their inaccuracies and he seems to have carried this through to his books.

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