David Baldacci is a tireless advocate for adult literacy. He and his wife Michelle have raised millions for the cause. It’s hard to imagine anyone so devoted, but it makes sense. His Amos Decker and Will Robie series are the epitome of literature. Sure, he’s a thriller writer, but the cadence in which he writes is very rhythmic. You can get lost in his stories and almost forget there’s a plot to pay attention to.
Baldacci was also way ahead of his time. His 2009 thriller, The Whole Truth, foreshadows the fact that the Internet has made it possible for disinformation to sound so convincing and to spread so fast that facts become irrelevant. This was a decade ago.
“It's ironic,” Baldacci told Bookpage Magazine. “I think we have less truth today than we had 50 years ago," he says, adding, "You can go onto social media and throw out percentages and figures and they can be a total lie, but people believe them."
In The Whole Truth, Nicholas Creel is the head of the world's largest defense contractor and he hires a "perception management" company—the so-called PMers don't just spin facts, they make stuff up—to re-ignite Cold War fears about the Red Menace, driving nations toward the edge of WWIII. Ten years ago this could’ve been considered farcical had a master writer like Baldacci not delivered the story with a deft touch.
The disinformation campaign that propels The Whole Truth begins with the release of a grainy amateur video showing a Russian man recounting the horrors that he and his countrymen are suffering at the hands of the Secret Russian Federation police. By the way, that man is an actor. The entire world buy it—and nations buy trillions of dollars worth of Creel's weapons. The scenario is not far-fetched, insists Baldacci, who says he got the idea for the book by talking to real people in the perception management business.
Politically, Baldacci considers himself an Independent, but he pays attention to the news and decides to use his fiction to mold his thoughts into place. It’s amazing just how much he got right a decade ago. We can only hope that his 2017 release, The End Game is not nearly as accurate as The Whole Truth was, otherwise I’m staying under my bed at least until the Midterms.