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The Better Angels

(Paul Christopher #4)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  268 ratings  ·  24 reviews
In a presidential election year, a liberal was pitted against a die-hard conservative in a political race that turned to a race of death. A cast of flambouyant characters including a TV anchorman, a radical beauty, a British operative, and a computer whiz all knew a bit of the truth that could shatter both candidates.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 1st 1989 by Signet (first published 1979)
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False You didn't miss anything. This is an error on their part. I may be able to change it--going to try anyway. This is NOT part of the Paul Christopher…moreYou didn't miss anything. This is an error on their part. I may be able to change it--going to try anyway. This is NOT part of the Paul Christopher series. I am currently reading "Shelley's Heart," which is the true part two of "The Better Angels."(less)

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3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  268 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
I've been a huge fan of McCarry and his Paul Christopher novels, but Better Angels is definitely a misstep for him. The lack of Paul Christopher isn’t the issue. Part of the problem is this book was published in 1978 and set in 1998 (something that is never quite clear at the outset.) And like all such novels set in the future that are now in the past, almost none of his predictions have come thru. For example: The CIA hasn’t been replaced KGB-to-FSB-style by a similar but re-lettered group call ...more
Feb 07, 2019 added it
Shelves: bowdoin-reads
Reader in group- The book I am currently reading is Charles McCarry's The Better Angels. I say this with no small sense of regret, since I've been reading this book for at least nine months. More accurately, I've been not reading it for at least nine months. It perhaps comes as no surprise that the guilty pleasure of a Government professor is reading spy novels. This novel, however, is just making me feel guilty. I immensely enjoyed McCarry's first two novels, The Miernik Dossier and The Tears o ...more
Many readers-reviewers have noted this is not a Paul Christopher seried novel, and I have tried to remove that data from the entry. If it doesn't appear to take, I'll contact Good Reads and alert them to change it. No Paul Christopher in sight, unfortunately. Set in Washington, D.C. and New York, twenty years into the future from the original publishing date of 1979, it's an interesting take on the nature of intelligence services (NSA=No Such Agency,) America's political scene (and in this novel ...more
Rick Gibson
Sep 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
Pretty ropey stuff for a novelist with a middling to good track record in spy fiction. The anachronisms are forgivable for a novel written in the late seventies but what increasingly breaks this book's back are naive politics, a stultifying lack of pace, hagiographic characterisation and some craw-stickingly ersatz morality.

The book is about the politics of 2 presidential candidates, painted in black and white as saint versus sinner. The saint has switched the lights out in America and stopped p
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Despite this book is categorised as one of the Paul Christopher espionage books, let's clarify that The Better Angels is more a political than an espionage novel (with some intriguing inroads into sci-fi with a slight scent of Orwell's 1984) and it does not feature Paul Christopher. The story, based on the descendants of some of peripheral characters appearing in other McCarry novels, was written in 1978 and takes place in 1988; however, judging the quality of the novel by the number predictions ...more
Sherrill Watson
Published in 1979. There is a quote from Abraham Lincoln's First Inaugural Address:

"The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this gross land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

I wonder how many schoolchildren, even common people, would bother to read and understand that statement today???

Patrick and Charlotte Graham are mo
Nov 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this one right before the Obama/McCain election was more than a little creepy. I've only read a few McCarry novels, but the ones I've read I loved, and I'd been hearing about the "prophetic" aspects of this one for years now. And that's true to SOME extent -- yes, there he was in the 1970s, writing about a group of radical Muslim terrorists who have hijacked passenger jets and used them to attack cities and are now trying to get their hands on suitcase-sized atomic bombs. On the other ha ...more
Richard Toscan
Aug 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Charles McCrarry is a fine writer. His masterpiece is the multi-book cycle tracing the history of the intelligence agent Paul Christopher's family from the rise of the Nazi Party through the 1970's with a thru-line of the founding of the what will eventually be called the CIA and the Christopher family's involvement in this secret world. Better Angles, written in 1979, is not part of the Paul Christopher cycle. While it is eerily predictive of US political events and behavior imagined twenty yea ...more
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Saw the movie a long time ago, feat. Sean Connery as a TV-Anchorman or reporter and our own Hardy Krueger as a German Arms-Dealer, also Leslie Nielsen and per IMDB Jennifer Jason-Leigh, though I cannot remember their part (Wrong Is Right 1982). At the time it was a bit over the top and in some ways a satire.
The book is more or less the same, but after 9/11 and what followed with suicide bombers till the present, it just takes on a more grim reality what is displayed in the movie and written abou
Boris Feldman
Oct 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unable-to-finish
His worst.
Joel Benford
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
A decent spy story buried in great rafts of clumsily-delivered extraneous characterization.

At times it is fascinating, usually when it's being a spy novel. Too often it goes into long (i.e. whole chapter) descriptions of how somebody is taking option B because of the way their mother made sandwiches, or whatever. It does motivation like Neal Stephenson does exposition.

Written in 1979 but set in the late 90s, the setting has become a rather creepy alternate history which does have a compelling at
Feb 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book could have been so good. It's written with precise knowledge by an ex CIA agent about an assassination of an Arab leader, who they suspected was keeping WMDs, only to come up short. The president and his closest adviser were put to the line for this murder in a close election as terrorists with bombs surgically inserted into their bodies, blew themselves up at famous American landmarks. This book was written in 1979 and was rereleased a couple of years ago since it was considered to be ...more
Nov 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
I love Charles McCarry. But this is not his finest work. It follows the goings ons of his famous spy Paul Christopher's American cousins, who are well-heeled and politically important. It is dismal as science fiction, supposedly set in a then-distant 1990's where the social order remains perfectly intact - rich white men duking it out for the presidency while their lovely wives watch quietly from the wings. While I'll revisit McCarry's earlier books for many years to come, this is one to skip.
Jan 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009-books-read
The Better Angels steal an election while Arab terrorists blow themselves up in a scheme to steal the election. This McCarry book is termed the prophetic thriller, as the terrorists become human bombs. But where's the airplane promoted in the book sleeve?
The political nature of this book was less compelling than McCarry's espionage thrillers like The Tears of Autumn and Old Boys. Still a good read.
Christopher Culp
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Not quite one of the Paul Christopher books for which McCarry is so justifiably praised, this nevertheless rates as one of his best works in my view. The book deals less with espionage and more with politics, but McCarry does it with panache and great effectiveness, leading us to care about the characters and the plot. A terrific work for anyone interested in political intrigue.
Jun 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I prefer the movie that was made from this book, WRONG IS RIGHT - as much as that was marketed as 'satire' at the time (1982), the actual novel probably would've been considered straight fantasy. In both cases, the resemblence to current day events goes way beyond 'prophesy'; and the events in the book go further than the movie does!
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
McCarry writes spy novels but each one transcends the genre and each in its own idiosyncratic way. This is one of his best (it is not a Paul Christopher--McCarry's oft-used main character-- novel, though it says so on the cover). McCarry writes spy fiction the way Don DeLillo, or Anthony Powell might write it. He has yet to disappoint me.
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it
I'm going back and filling in the Charles McCarry espionage novels I haven't yet read. He's a terrific writer, standing alongside Alan Furst and a cut below John LeCarre, but this one doesn't quite stand up to some of his others I've reviewed here.
May 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
2.5. Have loved every McCarry I have read, but this did not do it for me. Only really liked one or two characters.
Apr 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just OK
Stuart Phillips
Apr 11, 2016 rated it did not like it
Didn't enjoy this as the other books,
Matt Haynes
This was slow at the beginning, but got better as it went on.
Georgia Roybal
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
Being a political junkie, I enjoyed reading this book. I am not crazy about anything set in the future, however. It was easy to read and enjoyable.
rated it really liked it
Dec 25, 2015
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May 26, 2014
Brian Christy
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Apr 25, 2015
rated it it was amazing
Aug 31, 2013
rated it really liked it
Oct 27, 2013
Dan Holloway
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Apr 30, 2016
Roger Lohmann
rated it really liked it
Dec 13, 2012
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McCarry served in the United States Army, where he was a correspondent for Stars and Stripes, has been a small-town newspaperman, and was a speechwriter in the Eisenhower administration. From 1958 to 1967 he worked for the CIA, under deep cover in Europe, Asia, and Africa. However, his cover was not as a writer or journalist.

McCarry was editor-at-large for National Geographic and has contributed

Other books in the series

Paul Christopher (10 books)
  • The Miernik Dossier (Paul Christopher #1)
  • The Tears of Autumn (Paul Christopher #2)
  • The Secret Lovers (Paul Christopher #3)
  • The Last Supper (Paul Christopher #5)
  • The Bride of the Wilderness (Paul Christopher #6)
  • Second Sight (Paul Christopher #7)
  • Shelley's Heart (Paul Christopher #8)
  • Old Boys (Paul Christopher #9)
  • Christopher's Ghosts (Paul Christopher #10)