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by Christopher Buckley

      Cass is a talented writer whose father invested her Yale tuition money in his business. As a result, she has to join the military if she hopes to have her college tuition paid. While stationed in Bosnia, she is tasked with escorting the VIP du jour, a beguiling Senator from Massachusetts. A not-so-accidental accident leaves him as an amputee and her with an involuntary separation from service and, yet again, no money for college. So she finds herself working with a public relations firm using her talents to spin the negative into the positive for her clients, but her passion is elsewhere.

Cass is a blogger, and her website is dedicated to reforming, or outright eliminating, the bane of her generationís existence, Social Security. She is frustrated with Congressís do-nothing approach to the dilemma, and is highly critical of their pass-the-buck tendencies, which could only lead to higher payroll taxes. The basis of her argument is that her generation shouldnít have to pay outrageously for the selfish self-fulfillment of the Baby Boomers, and her movement quickly gains momentum among those in Generation Y. This catches the eye of a certain Massachusetts Senator who sees potential in Cassís followers, and their voting power - along with the sympathy attached to his stump - could be enough to launch him into the White House.

But despite his best efforts, the issue of Social Security reform is once again swept to the back pages of the newspapers. So Cass convinces her newfound ally to propose a shocking solution on the Senate floor - mass Baby Boomer suicide in exchange for tax incentives. As the economy crumbles around the current Presidentís re-election campaign, a pro-life leader offers his support to help defeat the challenger and his outrageous proposal, even as several Baby Boomer organizations sign-on for their share of the entitlements. And, as they say in politics, itís game on.

Very few books have ever made me laugh out loud. Iíve smiled or chuckled a few times, but this book actually made me break out in laughter. I just couldnít help it, and politicians are easy targets for humor. Buckley has the usual cast of characters for this perfect political satire. Thereís the ambitious, charming, womanizing Senator; the tightly-wound President, who gives the impression that he could snap at any moment; the self-righteous and very wealthy religious leader; the brown-nosing, deal-cutting Chief of Staff who, as is often the case, is the brains behind the Administration; and the powerful, conscienceless entrepreneur, whose money extends deep into the world of Washington politics. My favorite character was, by far, the President. And if you donít like profanity, then you should skip his dialogue.

And even though this book is highly entertaining, there is still an underlying message. Social Security is the gorilla in the room that Washington has done well at ignoring for many years, but it isnít going away. Buckley does a masterful job at pointing this out in the form of an outlandish political satire that will surely find itself among the best sellers.

The Book

Twelve Books
April 2, 2007
0446579815 / 978-0446579810
Fiction / satire
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The Reviewer

John Washburn
Reviewed 2007
NOTE: Reviewer John Washburn is the author of When Evil Prospers.
© 2006