State of Fear, with a first printing of 1.5 million copies, resembles Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged – about 6 million copies sold since 1957 – as a political broadside woven into an entertaining story. But whereas Rand had only an idea – a good one (capitalism is splendid), but only one – Crichton has information. State of Fear is the world's first page-turner that people will want to read in one gulp (a long gulp – 600 pages, counting appendices) even though it has lots of real scientific graphs, and footnotes citing journals such as Progress in Physical Geography and Transactions – American Geophysical Union.
Crichton's subject is today's fear that global warming will cause catastrophic climate change, a belief now so conventional that it seems to require no supporting data. Crichton's subject is also how conventional wisdom is manufactured in a credulous and media-drenched society.
George Will on Michael Crichton's latest, and the hysteria around global warming, a subject I have blogged on in an earlier post ("Book causes global warming"). Also read Bjorn Lomborg's latest piece on the subject, "Let's first tackle hunger and disease", in the Australian.