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The Revisionists

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  1,171 ratings  ·  255 reviews
A fast-paced literary thriller that recalls dystopian classics such as 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, from the award-winning author of The Last Town on Earth.

Zed is an agent from the future. A time when the world's problems have been solved. No hunger. No war. No despair.

His mission is to keep it that way. Even if it means ensuring every cataclysm throughout history runs its cou
Hardcover, 435 pages
Published September 28th 2011 by Mulholland Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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“I haven’t taken the time-mower out for a spin lately. I’ll just fire it up and ….Hey, who are you? How did you get in my garage? And why are you pointing that gun at me? If you need a weed-eater that bad, just take it.”

“Don’t play dumb with me, hag.”

“Hag? Why are you calling me a female witch?”

“You’re going to pretend that you belong in this timeline with your time machine sitting right there, hag?”

“Again with the hag? Look, my name is Kemper and this is my timeline. I’ve got a time-mower becau
Debbie Zapata
Hags, contemps, Protectors, Events.....paranoia and suspicion. What a world. Is it the future? Is it the present? A little bit of both. Imagine people from our future (which to them is known as the Perfect Present) returning to try to change history. Hags (historical agitators) come to try to save the contemps who were lost in horrendous Events such as the Holocaust. But Protectors come back to ensure that history unfolds
exactly the way it did, because if anything was changed, then the Perfect
Within these pages you will find a complex cerebral thriller. A thriller post 9/11 and a government where agents hunt down and kill those that plot to unbalance the peace. A world of espionage, secrets and cover ups. Don't expect a visceral thriller, from the title and book cover I was expecting more of a cinematic kind of thriller instead it turned out to be a thinking mans tale of truth and power. You have a couple of searches for truth here, one a dead brother in the army and secondly a diplo ...more
What is this book about? Time travel? Intelligence organizations? Government cover-ups? Diplomatic immunity? War? Dealing with loss? Mental illness? Maybe all of it and then some. Definitely more of a mystery than sci-fi, with twists and turns, additional pieces of the story around every turn of the page.

I really, really liked Mullen's first novel, which was a fairly straight-forward narrative about the Influenza epidemic, logging and unionization. I was not so crazy about his second novel, whi
switterbug (Betsey)
Mullen's third novel, a dystopian time-travel, was drowned out in the literary world by Stephen King's time travel epic, 11/22/63. Actually, both novels are ideal as bookends; in King's book, the protagonist goes back in time to try and alter history, whereas Mullen's protagonist, Zed, is an agent from the future employed to preserve history exactly as it is and prevent disruption or changes. If you add Orwell's 1984 (constant surveillance) and Farenheit 451 (destruction of historical documents) ...more
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 05, 2011 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: time travelers, former CIA agents, Washington, D.C lawyers
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book that I decided to read on a whim. A mix of time travel and modern-day politics? Okay, let's see how the author handles it. To my surprise, he handled it very well indeed. Usually anyone who decides they're going to take on 9/11, gentrification, racial issues, and historical revisionism has an axe to grind, but Mullen's axe is hard to figure out. What politics there are in the novel are not overt, which means you can sit back and enjoy the story, ...more
Lisa Wolf
"The Revisionists" was not at all what I'd expected, yet I couldn't put it down -- hence the four stars.

I have a soft spot for all things time-travel, and the basic synopses I'd read of this book seemed to put it squarely into that genre: Main character Zed works for a post-disaster society at some point in time several centuries from now. In the "Perfect Present", there is no war, no racial tension, no hate. Zed's government agency works to keep the perfect present perfect, by sending agents in
I wanted to like The Revisionists. Great premise: an agent from a dystopian future (known as the Perfect Present) is sent back in history to stop agitators from stopping events that change the course of history, such as 9-11 or the JFK assassination. In our story, the protagonist Z (pronounced as the English Zed) is sent to protect a terrible war known as The Conflagration. This sets off my first bone with the story, so I'll just get it out of the way: we're told that Z has to make sure this war ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Alan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Dupes of the system
Recommended to Alan by: Powell's City of Books
Apparently, time travel is easy, once you stumble across the trick. The hard part is making your past hold still, afterwards (assuming that "afterwards" continues to mean something). The past you remember from yesterday may not be the past you will have had tomorrow, especially once your opponents start using their own versions of the same trick. This book could easily have been called The Santayana Inversion—those who can remember history are condemned to enforce it—though I'll admit that The R ...more
i'm trying to figure out why i found this book kind of... boring.

it's an interesting setup: guy from the future comes back to present-day Washington D.C. with a mission to make sure that certain events leading to a cataclysm continue to happen. our protag, Z., is sort of like a spook doing a nasty bit of wetwork for a good cause. or so he believes.

our contemporary characters, Tasha, Leo, and Sari, are all folk mixed up in things they really don't understand, but which all lead back to Z.

until we
The fact that it took me about three weeks to slog through Thomas Mullen's sort-of time travel book should tell you how much I liked it. A few nights, battling the desire to sleep, I forced myself to pick it up only to find myself about to drift off to sleep soon after. My reading pace was slow due to the book's meandering quality and the fact it doesn't have much action as it tells the story of multiple characters as they connect and disconnect with one another in Washington DC. Lifeless. Dull. ...more
This is a pretty good story in various ways. But as another reviewer has noted, "Without saying anything that might inadvertently be a spoiler, I will say that the entire time travel premise is not necessarily what it appears to be, depending on how you choose to interpret certain events and passages." Too few reviewers here appear to appreciate that.

Maybe the most important paragraph is halfway through the book, when one of the supporting characters gives a somewhat random little speech about a
Julie H.
The Revisionists was positively brilliant in concept, but not as outstanding in execution. I read it, I forced myself to finish it, but it bailed in a mishmash of uncertainty as to what was happening--and not in an acceptable way given my investment of 400+ pages of attentive reading. Admittedly, I brought to the encounter some very high expectations. Sadly, they were not met. If you're a sci-fi or alternative history fan, there are better books out there, but don't necessarily take my word for ...more
I read this book twice- and I still can't figure out just who the main character really is. You think you know who he is, until nearly the end, and then a big curveball comes along. I found myself going through an internal debate- either he's really Zed from the future borrowing Troy Jones' identity, or he's really Troy Jones, from Philadelphia, who think that he's Zed from the future.

The premise of the story is that the main character, Zed, has been tasked with making sure the future really hap
THE REVISIONISTS has got that amazing, and incredibly difficult combination of spot-on realism (and real life issues that will make you THINK), plus an astoundingly complex, real-feeling, imaginary-world element to it too. Mullen put a lot of thought into this book, and it absolutely shows.
Lisa Murray
I was really torn between ranking this at a 2 or a 3. Why? I liked it, but it was a really bumpy ride. More than once I considered putting the book away, but I had just enough connection to 1 or 2 of the characters that I kept going.

Pieces of this were really strung together as the reader bounces among all the characters. I struggled to determine motivations and even in my 'willing suspension of disbelief' I was frustrated. I felt like I needed a chart showing how each of the characters relates
This is an interesting time-travel story in that it is less concerned about the future, from whence the time-traveler comes, than with the present we live in. A "protector," an operative of some future government's security services, is sent back to present-day Washington DC to ensure that various calamitous events leading to a worldwide conflagration occur on schedule, thereby ensuring that the future is unaltered. You see, other forces in the future society are also sending operatives back to ...more
Luanne Ollivier
When I first started to read The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen, I immediately thought of the film/novel The Adjustment Bureau . Although there are similarities in the beginning, The Revisionists takes the story much farther, questioning many things in our society, but the ultimate question is - does the means justify the end?

Operative "Z" is from the future - a time they call the Perfect Present. His job is to make sure that things progress as they should - marching towards the Great Conflagrati
Lauren Smith
Zed is a government agent from a future he knows as ‘our Perfect Present’, a semi-utopia built out of the ruins of ‘the Great Conflagration’ – a global disaster that occurs in our own time and begins in Washington D.C. It’s Zed’s job to ‘protect the Events’ – key moments in history that eventually lead up to the Great Conflagration and need to occur if the Perfect Present is to be realised.

Leo too is a secret agent doing morally questionable things in the name of national security. He was kicked
Loved this thriller at first, but it sort of petered out towards the end. Great premise: that a post-conflageration utopian government sends people back in time to protect historical events so that the utopian future can be preserved, since historical agitators (aka "hags") also go back in time to try to disrupt them. Reminds me of The Adjustment Bureau, and was apparently similar to the plot of the Terminator movies too (?). Anyway, one of the Protectors likes to muse about God and Free Will, a ...more
the golden witch.
Just a warning, guys, if you don’t like books that make you think, you should probably avoid this one. This is not exactly the most feel-good book of the year, but it is one of the most thought-provoking. It’s puzzles within puzzles, and it asks us what history really is – is it fashioned by the victors? The losers? And are we all just footnotes in something larger? I had a lot of fun with this book, that’s for sure.

I do have to say, though, that the first part of the second half of the book did
Lydia Presley
Original review posted here

Lately I seem to be reading a lot of time manipulative books. Between The Revisionists, The Map of Time and the newest Lawhead series, someone seems to have put out a memo screaming … “MESS WITH TIME, IT WILL MESS WITH YOUR READERS!”. Because that’s what messing with time does; it messes with my head.

The Revisionists is a fascinating look at “what if”. What if you could go back in time to fix a wrong, to stop Hitler, to prevent the assassination of Lincoln.. you get th
“All the conspiracy theories are true, Zed.”

This one starts out like gangbusters. Zed is from the future. He comes from a “Perfect Society” and his job is to maintain this utopia, by returning to the past and making sure nothing disrupts his idyllic world. This is not a simple mission, due to the fact that “hags” are also being sent back from the future, to alter history, in what they think will “help” their own future. So this becomes a spy thriller and a time travel adventure with conspiracies
Author: Thomas Mullen
Title: The Revisionists
Description : The books opens as we meet Z, a “revisionist” who has been sent from the “Perfect Future” to make sure that the future stays that way. His opponents are the “hags,” time-traveling rebels who attempt to change the future by preventing certain events from happening. After Z makes sure that a certain journalist will indeed be murdered, the point of view shifts to three other protagonists: Sari, a beautiful young Indonesian domestic worker wh
Jean-Paul Adriaansen
After the last final clash between civilisations societies as we know them have ceased to exist. In a far future a perfect society has came to be. Everybody has the same skin, religion is completely forgotten, and the government keeps very strict control of what might be told about history.
Some rebels who know more about the past than permitted are trying to change history by, for example, trying to stop the holocaust. Zed, a secret historic time travelling agent, has to stop them at all costs (
One of the more enjoyable novels I've read in a while. Great blend of espionage, sci-fi, & thriller conventions, along with a clever premise that keeps you guessing how it will end up. I particularly liked the unusually deep characterizations - Mullen spends a lot more time with his characters' internal struggles, and the book is better for it.

You'll think you know where the book is headed, and Mullen avoids taking the obvious paths on a number of occasions. He leaves several threads unresol
Bryan Miller
While I appreciated some of Mullen's attempted exploration of certain big questions or ideas (Is there such a thing as fate? How much control over our lives do we have? The power of directing one's own narrative), the plot is incredibly sluggish and tends to rely a little much on exposition to catch the reader up rather than letting him/her see it develop through actions. Lots of wheel-spinning! Character threads are wrapped up, but not very satisfactorily or as conclusively as I would have pref ...more
Very good story, set in contemporary Washington, DC, with well developed and likable characters. I scored an advance copy through one of the publisher's blogs. It is well worth reading if you like a combination of sci-fi/time-travel/mystery/relationship. It's a little odd, but works well. Overall, I guess I'd call it mostly sci-fi.
Mandy France
What a fantastic book. I added it to my list to read because I thought it was a time travel book. Instead it was a pre-apocalyptic, political thriller, winding it's way between espionage and mental illness. I was hooked by this book and it definitely made me think about it long after I had finished reading.
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Thomas Mullen is the author of "The Last Town on Earth," which was named Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA Today and was awarded the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for excellence in historical fiction, and "The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers." His books have been named Best of the Year by such publications as The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Onion, and Amazon.c ...more
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“Because here was what none of them wanted to admit, Leo thought, the thing they were simply too blind or angry or spoiled to realize: this life was the best it could possibly be.” 1 likes
“Maybe you could drive yourself crazy trying to chart backward all the causes and effects, all the ends and means, tracing everything to some original sin that may or may not have actually occurred but that people accepted as true, or true enough. Maybe staring into the eyes of all that history was a dangerous thing to do, as her mother had calmly warned her. Maybe you were supposed to move forward armed with just enough history to help you figure out the present without obsessing over the past. But how much was enough? Where was the gray area between ignorance and obsession?” 1 likes
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