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The Rationing

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Member Reviews

THE RATIONING by Charles Wheelan is a fabulous work of political satire set in the near future. The narrator is a scientist who specializes in lurking viruses – generally benign organisms which suddenly become virulent. Some basic science is certainly important to this tale, but there is much more about corporate greed, media manipulation and politics – both domestic and international. The politicians and bureaucrats are referred to only by their titles which, for me, added authenticity to this speculative work. Wheelan's wry tone and style of writing caused me to almost immediately think of Aaron Sorkin's West Wing and even more of Allen Drury and his best-sellers, beginning with Advise and Consent. As one quick example, the scientist narrator, preparing to be interviewed on a news show, is told by the Communications Director: "Don't even listen to the question. When her lips stop moving, you give the answer you want to give." THE RATIONING is one of those stories about complex real world events where every time the situation seems evenly remotely under control, yet another aspect has the potential to become a crisis or another unintended consequence becomes apparent. Wheelan alluded to numerous "what ifs" as he related this detailed, entertaining account of "utter craziness" as America faced The Outbreak.

If Charles Wheelan's name seems familiar, it should; he is the author of several non-fiction titles, including Naked Economics which, though published several years ago, is still required summer reading for our AP Economics classes. I can't wait to see what Wheelan writes next and appreciated his mention in the Acknowledgments of a local independent bookstore, The Book Bin in Northbrook. THE RATIONING received a starred review from Kirkus.
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This reads quickly. While it got a bit long towards the end, I could not put it down even though it is not action packed. I enjoyed that it was futuristic, yet not so different than today.
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