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Book Review - "The President's Shadow" by Brad Meltzer

The following Book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the right side bar.

9780446553933_p0_v2_s260x420The President’s Shadow by Brad Meltzer is the final book in the Beecher series. As with all his books he intertwines history with an action packed plot.  In addition, Meltzer puts in some tidbits of information that have become a part of everyone’s daily life. For example, ever wonder why a wedding ring is worn on the ring finger of the left hand, or how a pressed penny becomes a symbol for those in the military.

He explained to, “I have a curious mind.  I am obsessed with finding these ideas and have a collection of odd facts.  Regarding the pressed penny I got that idea from a friend in the Army.  He wears it around his neck with his dog tags and told me that it is a military tradition to imprint either the Lord’s Prayer or their unit’s logo. It is used for good luck and a form of ID. I love working this stuff into the storyline.” 

There is not just one theme to this book.  It powerfully delves into the treatment of those enlisted in the military, the relationship between a father and child, and how ordinary people can make a difference.  This complex novel explores the power of government and the military over an individual’s life, the intrigue of having a supposed history nerd, Beecher, able to save the Presidency, and the emotional pull of family relationships. 

The book opens with the intense scene of First Lady Shona Wallace finding a severed arm in the White House Garden.  This grim discovery leads the President to ask for Beecher White’s assistance to unravel the clues. Readers might wonder why the President would need the help of this nerdy archivist when he has the Secret Service at his disposal. But people should consider the recent mishaps and exploits of that protective service, and the fact that secrecy prevails over Washington DC. Also, Beecher has another role, the main member of the Culper Ring, a 200-year-old secret society founded by George Washington and charged with protecting the Presidency. Through his investigation Beecher will find secrets, including the importance of the number four, as well as what happened to his father.

Meltzer noted, “This all got started because I got a call from homeland security asking me to brainstorm on how terrorists could attack this country.  I did some research and traced the Culper Ring back to George Washington.  He had his own secret spy ring made up of ordinary people because no one looks twice at an ordinary person.  I love that.  Washington is 100% a hero.  He was one of my favorite Presidents.  Even the children’s book I have written includes George Washington because he is one of the most extraordinary men in history.  Think about it, he could have been the King of America; yet, walked away from all that power.” 

The President’s Shadow mixes history, politics, and drama, creating a fast-paced storyline.  This page-turner includes treachery, political conspiracy, questionable ethics, and secret societies.