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Book Title: The Ninth Wave|
The author of the book: Eugene Burdick
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 35.62 MB
Edition: houghton mifflin/riverside press,cambridge mass.
Date of issue: 1956
Read full description of the books The Ninth Wave:There is a handful of books that I read in my youth that had a significant impact on how I began to see and understand the world about me—books, if you will, that forged what the Spanish identify as a “vision del mundo.” Some were classics, others were contemporary fiction. Eugene Burdick’s The Ninth Wave (published in 1956) is one of the latter.
The Ninth Wave was Eugene Burdick’s first novel. It was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and won for him a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. He went on to write The Ugly American and Fail Safe, both of which became popular movies. With the success of the last two works, The Ninth Wave seemed to disappear. I recently ran across a 2006 opinion piece by a Steve Tollefson that suggested that The Ninth Wave deserved to be resurrected. Tollefson concluded that the book is one that “provokes the reader to look-at both the physical and political environments-through a new lens.”
For me, the book did provide in the late 1950s a “new lens.” Reading it at the age of 15, I began to gain a new way to understand the political processes that were emerging in the years of the Eisenhower presidency. It was, for someone nourished on the myth of American superiority and exceptionalism (to use the now current claim from the Political Right), a sobering suggestion that our democratic political structures were also capable of manipulation by special interests that could be antithetical to community or broader societal needs.
At its most basic level, Burdick’s novel is the chronicle of Michael Freesmith, who could almost be a fictional prototype of the non-fictional Carl Rove. (Clever of Burdick to anticipate Mr. Rove.) Michael, while a young college student at Stanford before World War II, discovers what he believes to be a political equation that will enable him to manipulate human political behavior: fear + hate = power. Acting on that equation in the aftermath of the Second World War, he goes about orchestrating a California gubernatorial election.
Not all are happy with that orchestration, most notably his best friend, Hank Moore and his mistress, Georgia Blenner. Both, but particularly Hank, grow increasingly convinced that Michael needs to be stopped—that he is, for all his charisma, pernicious.
Michael is, in many respects both heartless and soulless—someone emotionally disengaged from the world around him. He is, at his core, a callous man disengaged from other people, even those who form his inner circle. At one point, Georgia tells him: “You’re like one of those little glass balls that has artificial snow and a winter scene inside of it. You shake it and the snow swirls-around the scene. Except that all one sees of you is the swirling, the snow. All the things are there inside, but I can’t get a fingernail into the glass to pry it open. It’s all smooth and tough. …And you don’t want anyone inside. You’d fight it; you’d keep them out.”
Even his long term friend doesn't know what makes Mike tick:
Why do you hang around Mike?” Georgia asked.
“Because I’ve known him for a long time and I like him,” Hank said. “I don’t know why, but I do. I like him and there’s something curious, attractive about him. I keep thinking if I hang around I’ll find out some answer that will make the whole thing sensible.
But neither Hank nor Georgia find that answer. In the end, they are forced to conclude that Mike’s disengagement is what gives him power. “See, Hank [notes Georgia], it doesn't make any difference now whether Mike is right or not about how people act in politics. He’s persuaded enough people that they act in a certain way…and now, they’re acting the way he believes they do.”
The novel is, however, more than a chronicle of one man’s rise and fall. It is a snapshot of California from the end of the 1930s through the 1940s and into the 1950s. Burdick’s chapters on World War II are lyrical and engaging. His surfing descriptions at the beginning and end of the novel are equally vivid. And the several vignettes that punctuate the story—the drunk that Michael talks into suicide; the man who makes and looses a fortunate growing avocados; the history of gold mining and its impact on the environment—are miniature jewels.
Read information about the authorEugene Burdick was an American Political Scientist and co-author of The Ugly American (1958), Fail-Safe (1962) and The 480 (1965).
He was born in Sheldon, Iowa. His family moved to Los Angeles, California when he was aged 4. Burdick attended Stanford University and Oxford University where he earned a Ph.D. degree in psychology, and he worked at the department of Political Science at the University of California. In 1956 his critically acclaimed novel The Ninth Wave, a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship winner, was published. End 1950s he was among the first members of the Society for General Systems Research. He died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 46.
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