I found ”Drop by Drop” by Keith Raffel to be an exciting political thriller as well as a fascinating philosophical political treatise. While the political thriller part offered the reader an excellent whodunit, the philosophical discussion is what makes it a powerful book to read. The author handles the philosophical discussion so deftly and evenly, that you can see your beliefs articulated well in the story regardless of what your beliefs may be.
“Drop by Drop” opens with Sam Rockman, a Stanford History Professor finding out his wife, Rachel, a financial wizard is pregnant. Then still ecstatic over the excitement of the news, Sam’s world is rocked as his wife is killed in a bomb blast at the San Francisco Airport, which also kills the President’s National Security Advisor. The news treats this bombing as the terrorist sequel to 9/11.
With Sam still in mourning, ruminating on ways to avenge his wife’s murder, Senator Vincent, whom Sam had worked with as a legislative assistant before graduate school, contacts him. Senator Vincent wants him to come to Washington DC and work as the Minority Staff Director on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This provides Sam an opportunity to find his wife’s killers and hopefully stop future attacks.
As part of Sam’s work with Senate Intelligence, he travels the halls of the White House; sits in on Intelligence briefings and side negotiations. As part of a group, Sam travels to Russia to visit their security officials as well as tour the world’s largest repository of radioactive materials. Along the way more radioactive material is stolen and a portion ends up strewn over I-95 in Florida. Tension builds as the government is pressured to seek revenge on the terrorists.
There are many philosophical issues to debate. With the pressure to solve the problem quickly compromises may be made. Congress is scared and feels pressured to vote for questionable policies as “no one wants to be the one who voted to let a nuclear terrorist get away.” A comment that chilled me to the bone came from Senator Vincent to Sam in referring to a meeting with Government officials, he states, “Those guys would give up the Bill of Rights or even start a war with less thought than I give to picking out a suit in the morning.”
I love the title “Drop by Drop” because it serves as a metaphor for so much occurring in the book and perhaps society today. Drop by drop we are giving up our civil liberties. Drop by drop we are losing our principles. Drop by drop, our government officials break the law and others ignore it. Conversely, Sam in the story points out “My wife’s dead and her murderer is a drop of water swimming in an ocean of terrorists.”
A small side encounter that really made me think was the advice of his wife’s college Rabbi. At one point Sam asks, “What should I do? Turn the other cheek? ” The Rabbi responds “Judaism doesn’t say to turn the other cheek. Our tradition stands for justice. That is different from vengeance.”
Keith Raffel in his website describes himself as a person with career ADHD. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Oxford. He describes one of his first jobs serving as “counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee overseeing the secret world of the CIA, NSA, and other clandestine three-lettered agencies.” He states he “worked on legislation with Senators Biden (as he was then), Kennedy, Goldwater, and Bayh.”
Learn more about Keith Raffel’s other impressive careers and his experiment in e-book publishing in the attached video and on his website.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe that readers of all political persuasions will like it as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as an upcoming movie.
Five Stars out of Five.