Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Carolyn Baker Book Review: The Shell Game

Distribution via the Unanswered Questions Wire .


On Tuesday (1/22) bookstores across the U.S. released N.Y. Times best-selling author Steve Alten's THE SHELL GAME, a fictional thriller that deals with the end of oil and the next 9/11...a false flag event designed to lead us into a war/chemical attack on Iran. Can a novel help educate the masses that have avoided the message of 9/11 truth movements?


*A Review By Carolyn Baker*

Change is avalanching upon our heads, and most people are grotesquely unprepared to cope with it. --Alvin Toffler

When Steve Alten sent me a review copy of The Shell Game, despite glowing reviews of it from people I know and respect, I sighed and squirmed in my chair. Anyone who knows me well knows that I don't DO fiction-or to be more specific, I resist it because of the difficulty I usually experience with trying to organize the characters of a novel in my mind. Nevertheless, I emailed Steve and assured him that I would review the book and began skimming it with dread. Peeking into the pages with immense caution and aloofness, something completely astounding happened: I found myself inexplicably riveted. That someone like me could not put the book down speaks volumes, and no one was more surprised than I was.

As reviewer Bill Douglas points out, Shell Game opens from the perspective of the neocons "THEN, the novel proceeds to dis-assemble that ‘reality' taking the reader on a journey that shows the ugly underbelly of false flag terrorism, diminishing civil and human rights, and the lies that led into past wars, and portend to lead us all into future wars."

Early on in the book, we hear protagonist Ace Futrell, a petroleum geologist and former college football star, testifying before Congress regarding the precariousness of world oil supplies, his grim report engulfed and lost in a morass of political posturing by both parties. Futrell is married to Kelli Doyle, who had worked undercover for the CIA and the neocons, but is now gravely ill with terminal cancer. In her final days, Doyle is penning an expose entitled "To The Brink Of Hell: An Apology To The Survivors" in which she is disclosing the machinations of empire which are driving humanity to the collapse of civilization.

The first sentence reads: "Frankly, I hope this scares the hell out of you." In another portion of Doyle's tell-all memoir she unleashes a litany of the lies of empire, noting that "All presidents lie."

Roosevelt, she says, lied about Pearl Harbor, Lyndon Johnson about Vietnam, Reagan about Iran-Contra, and Clinton about personal affairs in the Oval Office. Yet she emphasizes that:

" was the lies coming from the Bush-Cheney White House after the events of September 11, 2001 that led us to the invasion if Iraq and to a crossroads in western civilization that will affect you and your loved ones and a billion more innocent people."

"Did the U.S. intelligence community know al Qaeda's attack was coming? "

"Yes. "

"But did we try to stop them? "

"Yes, but we were prevented from doing so."(77)

Doyle's subsequent revelations then echo the exhaustive research of Mike Ruppert in Crossing The Rubicon and the work of countless other 9/11 truth researchers, which explains the posting of the Bill Douglas review on 9/11 Blogger. In fact, Alten's mesmerizing novel is already being embraced by many in the 9/11 Truth movement and is likely to take root in its fertile soil-possibly giving birth to a movie version of Shell Game which would be nothing less than a two-hour nail-biter. Like any good story, The Shell Game is not linear but rather unfolds in a spiral of intrigue that culminates in a second 9/11-this time a nuclear one occurring in Los Angeles. But first and second 9/11's are not the principal focus of Alten's captivating novel. He has painstakingly clarified the corruption, greed, and power-driven madness that makes such catastrophes possible in the twenty-first century and intertwines these with the reality of a planet in the throes of unprecedented resource depletion. One is tempted to ask, "With all we actually know, how could this happen?" until Ace Futrell in Shell Game is rudely awakened by a conversation with Kelli's cousin, Jennifer.

This fictional dialog could not be more timely than in the non-fiction election year of 2008, and Jennifer, a former campaign strategist trained under Karl Rove, enlightens Ace regarding the duplicity of the mainstream political process. Insisting that Jennifer explain why in the face of all of the evidence regarding climate change and energy depletion, Congress essentially takes no meaningful action, he asks: "So, despite all the evidence of climate changes, despite rising gas prices, despite air pollution and respiratory problems...despite the fact that the world is running out of oil and we're ill prepared for what will happen next-nothing will change?" Jennifer replies:

"Not in Washington. Ace, it's not about the problem, it's all about the message. Most candidates' policies run counter to their own voters' interests. They get elected on sound bites and staying on message. Repeat the biggest lie often enough, and the public will accept it as truth. Give me enough money to blitz the media, and I could get Elmer Fudd elected, assuming he occasionally went to church and could lose the lisp....You begin with the message, something you can sell. Doesn't matter if it's true. Then you spend a million dollars in ads hammering it into the American psyche. (133-134) "

In my opinion, The Shell Game was worth the read for this particular dialog alone between Ace and Jennifer of which I have quoted only a small portion. Without having access to a former campaign strategist's explanation as Ace has in the story, I grasped the same realities several years ago which is one of a plethora of reasons that I personally have no intention of ever again voting in a federal election in America-at least until the present political system has thoroughly collapsed.

The Shell Game's value lies not only in underscoring the catastrophes toward which the human race is hurtling but in analyzing the mindset of empire that has made them inevitable. Alten's novel feels eerily prescient and replete with tragic scenarios that now seem probable-perhaps unstoppable.

The book ends with the closing comments of Kelli Doyle's memoir, simply: "Will we ever learn?"

I sit with that question, and as I do, another question comes: "How do we learn? What will it take for us to learn?"

Other civilizations have created and maintained natural cultures and lived harmoniously with each other and the ecosystems for millennia, so we know that such functioning among humans is possible. It is absolutely possible that humans can once again create and maintain similar cultures for significant periods of time, but can we do this without having to experience the collapse of the current civilization? I think not, yet as one who sincerely believes in miracles, I dare not preclude the possibility. However, I'm no longer willing to say that "time is running out" because time has already run out. I must now answer Kelli Doyle's question with another question: What will it take to wake us up? What will it take for us to learn? Shell Game demonstrates some horrifying possible answers to those questions. It will not offer solutions, but it will take you on a spellbinding adventure that even a fiction-phobe like me could not resist.


1. Call your local bookstore and make sure they have copies.

2. Buy as many as you can afford. Use them as gifts to convince loved ones about a truth they have, up until now, refused to see. These first editions are special. Special covers. Special looks. The second editions are already being printed.

3. Send an e-mail to everyone you know to BUY THE BOOK! We GUARANTEE they will love it!

4. Go to and grab the links to the two 90 second book trailer videos. POST THEM EVERYWHERE! Spread the word anyway you can. When you read the book, you’ll realize exactly what’s at stake.

*WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO DRIVE THIS BOOK TO THE TOP OF BEST-SELLER LISTS?* When a book appears on the NY Times best-seller list, a new mainstream machine kicks in! The books receive better front of store shelf space. More chains buy the book. Airport stores and grocery chains buy in. Talk shows like Letterman and Leno wait for a book to hit best-seller status before arranging interviews. If the 9/11 movement can launch The SHELL GAME onto the list, the mainstream machine will carry it to a million readers who might otherwise NEVER research the truth. The success of THE SHELL GAME raises everyone's boat. Pre-season's over! The clock is ticking!


STANDARD DISCLAIMER FROM UQ.ORG: does not necessarily endorse the views expressed in the above article. We present this in the interests of research -for the relevant information we believe it contains. We hope that the reader finds in it inspiration to work with us further, in helping to build bridges between our various investigative communities, towards a greater, common understanding of the unanswered questions which now lie before us.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Dunne Speaks: Can ACT's Dream Run Continue?

By most reckonings the ACT Party has had a very successful political year. Not only has its expanded Parliamentary team settled in well to its work, without controversy or scandal, but its leader has gained in community respect, and the party’s support, at least according to the public opinion polls, has increased sharply... More>>

Keith Rankin: Basic Universal Income And Economic Rights
"Broad growth is only going to come when you put money in the hands of people, and that's why we talk about a Universal Basic Income". [Ritu Dewan, Indian Society of Labour Economics]. (From How long before India's economy recovers, 'Context India', Al Jazeera, 31 Oct 2021.) India may be to the 'Revolution of the twenty-first century' that Russia was to the 'Revolution of the twentieth century'... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Foreseeable Risk: Omicron Makes Its Viral Debut
It has been written about more times than any care to remember. Pliny the Elder, that old cheek, told us that Africa always tended to bring forth something new: Semper aliquid novi Africam adferre. The suggestion was directed to hybrid animals, but in the weird pandemic wonderland that is COVID-19, all continents now find themselves bringing forth their types, making their contributions. It just so happens that it’s southern Africa’s turn... More>>

Gasbagging In Glasgow: COP26 And Phasing Down Coal

Words can provide sharp traps, fettering language and caging definitions. They can also speak to freedom of action and permissiveness. At COP26, that permissiveness was all the more present in the haggling ahead of what would become the Glasgow Climate Pact... More>>

Globetrotter: Why Julian Assange’s Inhumane Prosecution Imperils Justice For Us All

When I first saw Julian Assange in Belmarsh prison, in 2019, shortly after he had been dragged from his refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy, he said, “I think I am losing my mind.”
He was gaunt and emaciated, his eyes hollow and the thinness of his arms was emphasized by a yellow identifying cloth tied around his left arm... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Labour's High Water Mark
If I were still a member of the Labour Party I would be feeling a little concerned after this week’s Colmar Brunton public opinion poll. Not because the poll suggested Labour is going to lose office any time soon – it did not – nor because it showed other parties doing better – they are not... More>>