The Overton Window

A Book Review

Deborah Venable



To say that this book is disturbing would be a reach, unless you’ve been living under a rock and know little of such things that go on in the world these days. 


Glenn Beck’s latest offer, The Overton Window, published by Mercury Radio Arts, a division of Simon and Schuster, is billed as a fiction “thriller” but contains more fact than fiction.  Mr. Beck himself referred to it as “faction.”  While the characters he weaves into the story are certainly products of imagination, you can’t help but get the feeling that they are all based on someone in the history books.  Indeed, this book is replete with history as the real “characters” turn the imaginary ones into more shadowy impression than fleshed out human beings.


This is not a book to be read for its entertainment qualities because it is impossible to “lose yourself” in the story.  As a veteran reader of some of the best storytellers in the world, I am more than qualified to say that.  My grade on the story itself would not be above a C, but Mr. Beck can thread the needle of unease with the yarn of truth better than most who dare to impart knowledge these days.  For that, he gets an A+.


Just the reintroduction of the Overton Window concept is of great educational benefit, even though you are not lead by the hand to obtain a deep understanding of the concept through the characters of this book.  The very youth of the main character may actually be the biggest stumbling block to gaining any vision from his experiences.  I might have preferred to see him as older with much more extra-scholastic experience in the world around him.  Perhaps a stint in the military would have helped him, I don’t know.  His life-changing catalyst, the girl of his dreams, is almost too wise beyond her years and with the seeming ability to be very naïve when it suited.


The old man’s “clients” though shadowy by design, could have leant more of their characters to a more thrilling climax in a story that was going for the heart of the reader, but, again, Beck chose to substitute more fact for fiction in his handling of these subjects.  They didn’t want to stand out.


My favorite characters were Bailey and Kearns.  Their interaction reminded you that you were in their story, and they were woven as believable in every way.  More of their story would have been a welcome substitute for the rich boy awakening in a word his father was helping to construct, but I really don’t think the author set out to write an entertaining book.


Mr. Beck’s challenge to make you think continues in a painstakingly constructed “afterward” chapter with directions to a fact finding tour that you can’t help but take. 


Is the book worth its price?  Yes.  Is the author uniquely talented to tell such a story?  Yes.  Would I recommend it?  Yes – just don’t expect to be entertained!  



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