Midnight House Call

by John J. Miller on February 9, 2010 · 5 comments

in Blog Posts

  • Sumo

About a year ago, David Forsmark urged me to read one of Alex Berenson’s novels. “He writes for the New York Times,” said Dave, “but don’t hold it against him.”

I take Dave’s recommendations seriously. After all, he liked The First Assassin.

Seriously, though, when it comes to thrillers, he reads virtually everything. He also possesses an invaluable right-of-center sensibility. When I read a political thriller, I generally don’t want the villain to be a anti-abortion senator from Texas who has a personal right-wing death squad. That’s what movies are for. So before trying a new author, I often turn to Dave. Is this writer worth my time? What book should I start with? Last year, I persuaded Dave to write a consumer’s guide to war-on-terror novels. Be warned: Following the link will cause your books-to-read pile to grow about a foot taller.

Here’s what Dave wrote about Berenson: “Alex Berenson is further evidence that the New York Times editorial writers don’t read their own foreign correspondents. Anyone who read the dispatches of … Alex Berenson would certainly know who the enemies of humanity are in the world, and George W. Bush would not make the list. … Berenson’s thrillers are sophisticated, literate, and mostly believable. But don’t let that stop you: They are gripping, suspenseful, and contain enough action to keep the pages turning.”

So I made a mental note: The next time Berenson publishes a book, I’ll try to record a podcast with him. Today marks the official publication of The Midnight House, Berenson’s fourth novel–and also the posting of our podcast conversation.

Next week’s podcast: Patrick Garry, author of Conservatism Redefined.


  • Patrick

    John, you don’t say how many of Berenson’s novels you read after being urged to by Forsmark, and what your take on them was. I read Berenson’s first three books last year after Hugh Hewitt had Berenson and Vince Flynn on his show. Berenson is no Flynn. He is pretty much exactly what I would have expected a Yalie turned NYT reporter to be. Elitist, anti-American, anti-Christian, etc.

    It’s true that in his books the mullahs are depicted as backward enemies of humanity – but it’s also true that like Andrew Sullivan, Berenson regards the mythical bogeyman Christianist mullahs as equivalent to or worse than the middle eastern Islamic variety. Lots of gratuitous and false slanders of historical and current Christianity, very polutically correct in the same annoying fasjhion you allude to re the cartoonish Texas senator villain.

  • Well, if you’re going to investigate everyone’s ideological purity before you read them, good luck. I’ll just judge the books themselves.

  • Patrick

    Mr. Forsmark, as I indicated, I did read his three novels. That’s where his biases came across in extremely annoying fashion – annoying to me at least, and likely to other conservative readers, especially any who don’t hold Christianity and America in as much superior contempt as Berenson does. I am judging the books by themselves – I did no other “investigation” of Berenson before or afterward.

  • Chris


    I’m not sure where you’re getting that. I’ve read all of Mr. Berenson’s novels (except Midnight House, which I just got from Amazon today). I don’t remember any “contempt” for Christianity or America. I mostly remember a pretty nuanced portrayal of what it would have been like to have a deep cover operative in AQ. Of course, like Reuel Marc Gerecht said, “operations that include diarrhea as a way of life do not happen.” So, John Wells is (probably) fictional.

    But, I digress. I think I have similar tastes to you. There’s a lot of science fiction that I can’t read anymore, because “theocratic republicans have taken over the US and made women’s wombs national property.” A lot of Ben Bova’s books (after the excellent “Mars”) use this irritating little plot device, for example. But, I see no evidence of that in Berenson’s books.

  • Well, Patrick, like Chris I got none of what you charged out of any of Berenson’s books. You did, however, mentioned what you thought of his politics AFTER you said you heard him on the radio. I think you probably did get that from something he said on the Hewitt program.

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