Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Twelfth Imam

By Joel C. Rosenberg

Tyndale House Publishers

Tension rises in the Middle East. As the apocalyptic leaders of Iran call for the annihilation of Israel and the United States, CIA operative David Shirazi ships into Tehran with one objective: Use all means necessary to disrupt Iran's nuclear weapons program -- without leaving American fingerprints and without triggering a regional war.
As David begins to infiltrate Iranian government circles, news spreads throughout the region of a mysterious cleric claiming to be the Islamic messiah known as the Mahdi, or the Twelfth Imam. News of his miracles, healings, signs, and wonders spread like wildfire, as do rumors of a new and horrific war.
With the prophecy of the Twelfth Imam seemingly fulfilled, Iran's military prepares a final strike that will bring about the End Of Days. Shirazi must take action to save his country and the world, but the clock is ticking.

This is my first experience with a book by Joel Rosenberg. I had no preconceived ideas about his writing, only a vague notion that The Twelfth Imam was about the end of days. What I found upon entering Rosenberg's world blew my mind. The Twelfth Imam starts out almost as a description of history. In 1979, the American embassy in Tehran was overthrown and 66 hostages were taken. Rosenberg weaves his characters through the actual history of that time, even bringing them through a narrow escape that allows two families to start their lives over in the United States. Rosenberg then moves us ahead through the history of Iran, the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, and the resurgence of Shia Islam into political power. Then, Rosenberg introduces a character that has the potential to be the Jack Ryan of the 21 century. The CIA catches wind of Iranian nuclear weaponry that may be in the final phases of manufacture and testing. They send one David Shirazi into Tehran to find out the truth of the matter. What he discovers is beyond belief. There is an integral connection between Iranian political power and the legends of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi, the prophesied Islamic messiah. David must find a way to neutralize the nuclear threat from Iran while keeping his involvement a secret from the religious and political leaders, all while dealing with severe inner personal conflicts that threaten to destroy his effectiveness as a CIA covert operative.

This book reminds me of a ski jump: It starts out with some speed, it quickly gains more momentum as the plot thickens, then you reach the point where you are committed -- you are going too fast to stop, and then . . .
This book made me laugh and cry. It was simultaneously tense and fast-paced, while also being laid back and refreshing. I literally got chills as I read this book and the desperate certainty of the plot settled in. This book is not for the faint of heart, nor is it something that should be read for relaxation. If you allow it, this book can challenge you and make you face a reality you may not have ever considered.

Or you can just put it back on the shelf and walk away.

The choice is up to you.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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