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Ultimatum

3.32 of 5 stars 3.32  ·  rating details  ·  284 ratings  ·  87 reviews
November 2032. Joe Benton has just been elected the forty-eighth president of the United States. Only days after winning, Benton learns from his predecessor that previous estimates regarding the effect of global warming on rising sea levels have been grossly underestimated. For the United States, a leading carbon emitter for decades, the prospects are devastating: thirty m ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published April 8th 2009 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published April 1st 2009)
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Nick Brett
Well, this was both educational and depressing. Very much not for the faint hearted and for those interested in politics and the impact of carbon.

So this is a political thriller set some 30 years in the future. No Jack Ryans or steely eyed special forces types, this is a kind of West Wing drama but taken very seriously without the humour of the series. The world is in a bad place and especially the US where some of the population is having to be re-located because of flooding. Decades of ineffec
...more
Michael Welland
If you would like a taste of what it will be like to read the script of "West Wing," Season 37 (without the wit), then by all means try this book. Highly recommended by the Economist, it seemed like a no-brainer purchase, a thriller, set in the near future, dealing with real and pressing issues (emissions). By the end, the newly-elected US President realises that a catastrophe is probably a necessity for international agreement on a plan to effectively limit emissions, slow sea level rise and mi ...more
John Doe
Jul 21, 2009 John Doe rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those with too much spare time
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Betty
Ultimatum by Matthew Glass

Matthew Glass has given us a thriller that is all too possible, drawing the reader in from page one. The book begins innocuously enough in the year 2032 in a mood of energy and optimism for rebuilding the nation’s basic foundation. The bright and popular newly-elected U.S. president has won his seat with an unprecedented majority on a platform of honesty, decisiveness, and trust. The excitement is contagious as the population celebrates their president-elect, but hidden
...more
Kelsey
Dec 07, 2008 Kelsey is currently reading it
Set in 2032 this novel is about the devastating effects of global warming. Joe Benton has just been elected president and finds out that the situation is much worse then previously thought. After successive Republican administrations that have ignored environmental issues, Benton now must address Relocation. Rising sea levels and hurricanes are forcing the government to Relocate millions of people from the gulf coast (and California may become a desert) so this sounds like a really great premise ...more
Bob H
In this tightly-worded novel, Matthew Glass poses a future U.S. President confronted with the results of 30 years of deferred neglect of global warning. Now, the waters are indeed rising, the drought and fire and hurricanes are permanent. And, the outgoing president tells his successor that the studies weren't even close: the effects will mount exponentially unless something is done, and the Chinese, now the leading carbon emitter, are key to stopping it. Only they aren't budging.

This is all jus
...more
Brian Storms
Well, I guess that is one way things could happen. Often, when I consider the actions of the American political machine... the president, Congress... I find myself depressed by the small steps that are taken, the lack of pronounced change or action, the inches we gain in progress which are so often taken away. What was interesting to me about Ultimatum was the way the story described a different path, perhaps a more drastic one, then what I am used to seeing in the real world. A good read. A but ...more
Stuart
Not my usual action novel but really gripping after a gradual build-up. Though it is set in the future, it is really about the threat to the environment today. Oddly enough today's news was about US negotiations with Iran over their nuclear programme and the complications were reflected in Ultimatum. Like most people I was unclear why President Benton decided to threaten everyone else to push through his Carbon Plan but the unexpected result forced me to keep reading to the end long past midnigh ...more
Matthew
Deep politics, which I don't enjoy, but this was in a context of climate change and drastic measures. Some of the political dialogue was very confusing at times, with advisers and the President talking in circles, and it not always being clear who is taking what position in that discussion. The message is the key, however: if Nature and the changes we are already seeing in the climate, with severe storms and retreating coastlines and people having to move in order to survive, let alone thrive, t ...more
Debbie
I’ve had this book since the end of April and finally got to it. Since I knew it would be awhile I let my dad read it first and he loved it. He said it was totally believable, relevant to what is going on in the world and he did not want to stop reading.

For myself it took awhile to get into it and then I could not put it down. I will say the book did tick me off and I really wanted to smack a couple of the characters on the back of their heads after some of their actions. The way all the charact
...more
Mike Smith
This is a political thriller. That may sound like a contradiction in terms, but I found that I kept turning the pages, even though nothing much happens for most of the novel. A newly elected U.S. president in 2032 has learned that the consequences of global warming are going to be much worse than anyone thought, and he has to take drastic action. But he can't do it alone; other countries need to join in, and four rounds of Kyoto talks have so far produced nothing. President Joe Benton decides to ...more
Bill
This is a book that starts out pretty slow and then gradually becomes more and more interesting. By the time I had passed the halfway point I was carrying it around with me so I could read it in any spare moment. For me it was a masterpiece of careful plotting and planning. This book is all about the slow, deliberate building of tension that is released in a shocking climax. It's also about the process of negotiation which is exposed in tremendous detail. And finally its about human failings. Th ...more
Kleiner
In 2032, Joe Benton is elected President of the United States. Due to global warming, coastal regions are underwater, or soon will be. The country is preparing for the relocation of coastal populations – approximately 25 million. The South suffers regular catastrophic hurricanes. The West is suffering from desertification.

Soon after the election, Benton learns that the projected effects of global warming have been severely underreported. The world is less than a generation from disaster. Three
...more
Christine
While the US government today tackles a problematic economy, nuclear proliferation, and conflicts in the Middle East, some of the problems looming on the horizon may dwarf those we find overwhelming today. Two in particular are brought to the fore in this stunning first novel by British author Matthew Glass. “Ultimatum” is a novel set 24 years into the future, when American President Joe Benton was just been elected to office.

Even before assuming the presidency (for which he has grand goals of r
...more
John
WARNING! This is not a book for the feint of heart.

Although the stated time fame of the story is 25 years from now, this book reads (and I think the author MEANS for it to read) like it is today. In short, while futuristic at its foundation, it is NOT in any way, shape, or form; "science fiction."

This book stirred many emotions in me and brought to the forefront of my mind how nearly impossible it is to be a political leader in today's world. The choices we ask of our leadership are unfair, unr
...more
Janjaf
This is a pretty unique book, and surely not one for everyone. It is a political thriller, in which we follow a newly elected american president, as he is forced to act on the enviromental and climate issues.

The book is unique in that it is completely and utterly realistic, and its dramatic turns are not choreographed in order to leave you with a final, clearcut face-off in the final chapter. You'll find reviews below that complain about the flat characters and the meandering plot - and if you
...more
Emily Cleaver
I read two completely contradictory reviews of this environmental disaster thriller before I started it. The Economist reckoned it was an “engrossing work” that “leaves the reader thinking long after the last page is turned” .. sounds great, I thought. But the Guardian review dripped with scorn; “it’s as if the publisher of Hansard had been allowed to rewrite The War of the Worlds.” Oh dear. So I decided to try a couple of pages before I took it straight to the charity shop, and I was immediatel ...more
Matt Howard
This novel of global warming-induced apocalypse is lauded in the June 8 issue of The Economist as making the consequences of global warming more real and immediate than the dry presentations of Al Gore could manage. Unfortunately, the book's premise is that man-made global warming is real and that catastrophe will result from our failure to correct our carbon emissions. That global warming is real is in doubt. That man is the cause of global warming, if it is happening, is also in doubt. Thousan ...more
John Wiswell
I want to call this a political thriller, but it has no thrills. No hostages, wars, assassination attempts or chase scenes – just the hushed and hurried thoughts that normally pad out such a story in-between action. Ultimatum is about a hundred pages of a suspiciously naïve and unconnected candidate winning the presidency, and then several hundred more of drawn-out discussions that cover very little actual ground on global warming. The U.S. and China circle each other with a “No, you!” attitude ...more
Dana
Democrat Joe Benton has just taken office after a Republican administration in the year 2032. Benton has promised domestic housekeeping by reforming education and health programs. What Benton does not know is that global warming is accelerating at a rate unpredicted. Relocation along the coastal areas will have to be massive.

Benton must now change his priorities and try to work with China at really reducing both their emissions. Each country views the other as an enemy and wants no change while
...more
John
While I can't comment on this book's feel relative to "The West Wing", I can comment on its feel compared to the Economist: while it's obvious that its author (Glass) did a fair amount of research, I found myself unable to suspend disbelief many times. The story centered largely on a strained group constituting a future American administration fighting bilaterally with a small set of players in an otherwise opaque Chinese Politburo. The foil was carbon cuts, intended to stem the scope of an alre ...more
Bob Wasserman
Interesting and very realistic premise and storyline with one exception.

Remember in Beauty and the Beast where she hated him, hated him, hated him and then....magically, just one little change and voila - she loves him. No real reason for it, nothing really building - it just happened.

Not to give too much away but when Amy screams at her father and leaves ----- there's just nothing to back that up. Our understanding of their relationship to date, what he had to do -----even if she didn't agree w
...more
Marie
A political thriller. Now by that I mean that it is about politics, international politics. There are no conspiracies, no murders, not even skeletons in the cupboard. It is about how the President of the USA in 25 or so years time has to try and reach an international settlement on Co2 emmisions.

The thrill comes in in trying to understand how these politicians are motivated and how on earth they reach the decisions they do.The thrill is seeing how each decision leads to the next. The question th
...more
David Zerangue
The first 100 pages could have easily been condensed to about 20 pages. Sometimes you can attribute this to building up to the meat of the story. In this case, there was a lot of needless dialog. However, after making it through the 100 pages, the story begins to take off. It is a book about decisions. Neither good nor bad. Just decisions with consequences. The author touches on a very real global possibility and attempts to play it out. If there is a good character at all, then it is the Earth. ...more
Sara
In Ultimatum, Matthew Glass, puts together an eerily possible futuristic scenario. President elect in 2032, Joseph Benton, discovers the global warming problem he was preparing for is more rapidly approaching then he’s prepared for. Political maneuvering ensues.

The action does stall at times giving way to much dialogue and consequential discussion. . However, Glasses writing is crisp and the conclusion is dramatic as could be desired. The fear this novel conjures is in its realism. Though distu
...more
Richard
Apr 02, 2014 Richard rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People concerned about the environment; who like politics.
Recommended to Richard by: I found an old ARC at work.
Mr. Glass aptly told us what to expect if we do not change our selfish ways. I wonder how his home in London will fare with the melting of the polar ice caps.

Yes, parts of this are not believable, but what is does scare me.
Beth
Very, very good book.

This book covers climate change and the interactions of different countries and policies. It is a work of fiction, however I can see how it seriously will happen in a few years.

Around the year 2030, the climate has changed so much that people need to relocate inland. The US president receives a study that shows a large part of the world underwater, which China and the US leading the way in carbon emissions. Something needs to be done, and it will hurt both economies and be
...more
Joshua Parkinson
It's 2032 and Miami is a concrete reef! Southern Cali is a crusty desert and millions of Americans are being "relocated" to higher ground. Enter President Joe, a 21st century JFK, and his testy team of rivals. Together they must face down a carbon-coughing China and a never ending series of feckless Kyoto agreements. Can they ensure a reduction in world emissions, stop the rising tides, and avoid a nuclear winter along the way?

This is an extremely entertaining read! It never stops jolting you wi
...more
Oliver
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex
A review of this book by the Economist sparked my interest (see here).

The book is set in 2032 and envisions the geopolitical implications when we finally understand the impact of climate change and decide to do something about it. For having been written by a foreign author, the book is surprisingly insightful about how the US political system works.

The book was a quick read, it easily held my attention, and I sometimes found myself not wanting to put it down. Above all, it was though-provoking.
...more
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