Early reviews of Glenn Beck’s The Overton Window are in and, considering their sources, they are predictably hostile. Here’s Media Matters’ Simon Maloy at the Huffington Post:
There is one thing The Overton Window does not lack — irony, albeit of the unintentional variety. This novel represents Glenn Beck’s vision of the world as it would be if it operated according to his rules, and he lays out the scenario by which he believes the “progressive” movement can undermine the country. Given that the result is nonsensical, poorly envisioned, and even more poorly executed, one has to think that the only way Beck’s worldview could be considered plausible is if the world itself were no longer beholden to sense and reason. And I can’t imagine a more damning critique of the Glenn Beck ethos than that.
And Steven Levingston in the Washington Post:
The suspense of “The Overton Window” comes largely from wondering when the thrills will begin. There’s the obligatory prologue murder, but then the pulse of this novel flatlines. In place of thrills, we get entire chapters in which characters lecture on the rightness of their viewpoints. A moment of cliche action erupts when a New York City taxi with Noah inside jumps a curb and nearly hits a hot dog stand. Later an atomic bomb goes off, but the mushroom cloud settles without so much as a dusty throat for anyone.
On the other hand, Nelson DeMille calls it “as good a political thriller as you’re going to find this year” and Vince Flynn believes it is “visionary.” It is already #2 at Amazon. I will reserve judgment until I get a chance to read it for myself.
Leaving aside the fact that Beck didn’t actually write The Overton Window (“I don’t write. I speak. I get bogged down in writing,” Beck told USA Today; Jack Henderson, one of his three credited collaborators, “went in and put the words down”), I am intrigued by the idea of someone stumbling on Beck’s book a century from now. It may tell them more about who we were as a people than a genuinely literary novel by, I don’t know, a Don Delillo or a Toni Morrison would.
I just read Richard Hofstadter’s brilliant profile of William “Coin” Harvey–a figure who very few remember today, but who laid the groundwork for William Jenning Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” campaign with his bestselling books about bimetalism in the 1890s. Coin’s Financial School sold something like 1,000,000 copies. Harvey, like Beck, also authored a work of fiction. A Tale of Two Nations dramatized the “Crime of ’73,” when, according to Harvey, Jewish English bankers bribed a corrupt American Congress to de-monetize silver. “I am here to destroy the United States–Cornwallis could not have done more,” his villain exults. “For the wrongs and insults, for the glory of my own country, I will bury the knife deep into the heart of this nation.” He also sets his cap for an American heiress who is “fair and beautiful enough to typify Columbia.” Just as he is about to ravish her (“the man’s eyes blazed with the fire of his race in the old days, the fire that came when David gazed upon Bathsheba”), the Silverite hero rescues her.
In 1920, living in obscurity in Arkansas, Harvey wrote a book called Common Sense, or The Clot on the Brain of the Body Politic, which attacked the Federal Reserve. It “overshadows the Bank of England, and gives to the money-lenders greater advantage than the old United States bank did, that General Jackson killed.” In the last years of his life, Harvey began to raise money to build a 130-foot tall pyramid in which to deposit his books, so they could preserved for the benefit of future civilizations. “When this can be read,” the plaque on its capstone would read, “Go below and find the cause of the death of a former Civilization.”