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Balance of Power (Jim Dillon #1)

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  420 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
Off the coast of Indonesia, an American cargo ship has been seized by terrorists, its captain kidnapped and its crew mercilessly slaughtered. In Washington, a peace-loving President's refusal to punish the transgressors has enraged the sitting Congress, led by a wrathful Speaker of the House.

An ambitious young congressional assistant, Jim Dillon has discovered a time bomb
ebook, 560 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published May 20th 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 19, 2013 Tim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
At the end of this novel, author Huston thanks his editor....hmmmm. I believe his editor could have used a much sharper pencil with a giant eraser to condense this story and make it better. There is too much redundancy around battle conflicts and not enough between the legislative and executive branches. 4 of 10 stars
Patty Cole
too much military jargon
Ronald Howell
Feb 13, 2017 Ronald Howell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bill
Great read. Very interesting plot.
Jul 25, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, fiction
This book is a great summer read. When the President fails to respond to an act of international terrorism, the Congress uses an obscure clause in the Constitution to act on its own. A political crisis ensues as the United States Navy is caught between conflicting orders.

This book took me right back to the flight deck of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Much of the story's action takes place on a fictional aircraft carrier, and I found, as I read, I was transported back to my own stint on CVN-69.
Dec 14, 2015 Bonnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had mixed emotions about this book. It was interesting and exciting and the scenario doesn't seem as far out as I'd like it to be given the current political polarization we're experiencing in this country. I had problems with some actions that seemed especially illogical: the DOD cutting off an aircraft carrier from all communications so that it couldn't receive vital information. Granted, it might be doing something not approved of by the president and approved by congress but it would seem ...more
Apr 10, 2012 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good book and I liked the novel approach to the battle between congress and the President; it was an interesting twist on the War Powers Act and an interesting idea that the whole congress could wrap their arms around a bill and that there would be cross party agreement, something we don't see much of in Congress these days. I found myself liking some of the characters, especially the Admiral. Be sure to read "Price of Power", the sequel to this book, to find out what happens to the m ...more
Michael Taylor
Jul 24, 2011 Michael Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: james-w-huston
A superb book which used the Constitution as a way to drive the narrative of the book. I have used this with high school students in my government class as a way to see how the Constitution is used in real world situations. Feedback from high school seniors was overwhelmingly positive. Many of them told me that it was the only book that they had read in high school that they had wanted to finish. I used the sequel, THE PRICE OF POWER, as an extra credit assignment. It is a good continuation of t ...more
James Huston's Balance of Power is partisan politics on steroids - what happens when the Democratic President and Republican Speaker of the House draw a line in the sand and refuse to compromise. It made for an interesting plot, even though I found the intransigence irritating. Huston is eager to show his familiarity with Naval terms; I don't think I've ever read a book with so many acronyms! The ending lost momentum, and the hinted conflict between two Naval Battle groups never came, but it was ...more
Nov 30, 2010 Don rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
Interesting premise, but the plot ranged from tedious to cheesy. Jim Dillon is a poor shadow of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, even though Jim is in the thick of the action and has several exciting events. The ending pretty much exemplified the term anti-climactic, which was unfortunate. Good read if you're traveling, but that's about it.
Jul 29, 2010 Cherie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What can the United States do when a pacifist president refuses to go after terrorists who have taken and destroyed American property and killed American citizens? In this thriller, the Congress of the United States goes head to head with the President and the entire executive branch. I thought this was a very interesting scenario. This book delivered a great plot, interesting characters, lots of action, all without foul language; something most political thrillers don't do.
Felt this book was trying to make a political statement, but in the end there was no clear conclusion. I'm assuming the author, being military, sided with attacking the terrorists, but I'm not sure he was completely fair to the presidents arguments against attacking. Also, it was an interesting premise, but I felt it got dragged down by the amount of "military speak". Us commoners can't understand much of it.
Oct 05, 2015 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
This book is an excellent mix of politcal intrigue, legal conundrums and tactical action--it's an excellent thriller. The author uses the constitution to drive action--I'm glad it wasn't me on the pointy end of that stick. It's partisan politics on steroids. The tactical battle scenes, usually boring, were interesting to me. The book poses some constitutional questions that get your attention. I don't pass out five stars often, this one deserves it.
Started out as an interesting story--a combination of Grisham and Clancy--but ended up not being much of a combination of intertwined subplots and intricacy that you would expect from those two authors. The law and military aspects remained fairly separate and I was left in the end a little let down. It was intriguing, but could have been a much more captivating story if told by a better story-teller.
Oct 13, 2010 Cullen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, political
The writing is juvenile and the way in which the corridors of power in Washington are portrayed is naive to the point of satire.

"You know very well what has brought me to the House, Mr. Speaker." The President spoke slowly and deliberately. Every eye in the House was on him. "You directed an intentional violation of the United States Constitution and I'm here to stop you."

That is when I had to stop reading.
Jul 18, 2010 Trina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the law aspect of this book, part of me just wishes that there was a bit more shoot-em-up type thing going on. But it's okay that it wasn't there. This is the first book that I have read by this author so it will be interesting to read more of his work. Definitely looking forward to that.
Jim McCulloch
It was an interesting and thoughtful story. Odd in that I never warmed to or even liked the primary protagonist . . . or his lawyer friends in Washington. The Admiral was outstanding and I particularly enjoyed his dialog with the protagonist. I also enjoyed the military action although there wasn't enough of it. The constitutional law issue was quite fascinating and thought provoking.
Joshua James
Apr 23, 2012 Joshua James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is only the second book of Huston's I've read. It may just be me but I have a certain love for aviation and law like the author and that may be why I like these books so much. The way he ties in actual historical events with challenging themes, both operationally and legally keeps me turning pages.
Joel Ungar
Sep 29, 2013 Joel Ungar rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm sorry. There are a bunch of 5 star reviews on this book on Amazon and I just don't get it. Let's see - 3 best friends from law school are now the chief aide to the Speaker of the House, a counsel to the President and the top clerk to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. That's just preposterous.
Aug 18, 2014 Peg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Military political
This is the first book I've read by Huston. It was a good book with a little of a military flavor and it was also political. A little longer than I hoped. And toward the end one thing that happened was pretty unbelievable. Don't want to say what it was because I don't want to give anything away.
Abhishek Ender
Jun 02, 2014 Abhishek Ender rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a brilliant mix of legal/action/politcal intrigue and its an excellent thriller. The monologues may be abit aaron sorkin-ish and very umm conservative, but at the base level the logic seems correct. The book is well written and the pace is fast.
Feb 27, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#1 in the Jim Dillon series.

James Dillon - aide to the Speaker of the House, proposes using an obscure clause in the constitution to allow Congress to send naval forces against terrorists when the President refuses to take action.
May 08, 2012 Tressa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love a good action/thriller book. A bit of swearing but a nice plot that moves along (although at times a bit too fast as I want a bit more detail). I liked the plot and thought it was a fun read.
Nick Kjeldgaard
Aug 08, 2012 Nick Kjeldgaard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty decent book taking a new look at the potential of how the constitution can be used in a war situation. Written by an ex-Navy fighter pilot who graduated from TOPGUN.
May 26, 2010 Chuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A first novel dealing with the Congress usurping the right of a
pacifist President to direct military action against terrorists.
Jul 07, 2009 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. All wimpy presidents of the US should read this book and take heed, even if it is fiction.
Feb 27, 2015 Coyul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was fast paced and balanced out the political and the military. It was a good read, yet could have been condensed in a few places without losing any depth or continuity.
Sep 05, 2008 Dj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining thriller... this F-14 pilot knows what he is talking about. I've gone running with him!
Karen Christy
Dec 13, 2014 Karen Christy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fast-paced, good characters, a very contemporary plot, even though written before 9/11. Loved it!
Aug 02, 2011 Ernie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this book and the angles that were taken. Huston is becoming a favorite writer of mine now.
Leslie Godwin
Jun 09, 2013 Leslie Godwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was well-written, but couldn't get past first few chapters because very dated. Will try his more recent books, though.
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In addition to being the author of Falcon Seven, Marine One, Secret Justice, Shadows of Power, Fallout, Flash Point, The Price of Power and Balance of Power, I am a partner in the international law firm of Morrison & Foerster, and head of the Trial Practice Group, and a former Navy Flight Officer in F-14s.

I grew up in West Lafayette, Indiana, and attended the University of South Carolina on a
More about James W. Huston...

Other Books in the Series

Jim Dillon (2 books)
  • The Price of Power (Jim Dillon, #2)

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