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The Manchurian Candidate (1959)

por Richard Condon

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1,1242313,682 (3.69)55
Sergeant Raymond Shaw returns home from the Korean War to an uproarious welcome from the press and his fellow Americans. Little does anyone realize, not even Shaw himself, that Communist conspirators have planted a secret trigger in his unconscious mind that is intended to allow them to use him as an assassin.… (mais)
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Condon's The Manchurian Candidate is sometimes apt: "Iselin is a man who shall forever stand guard at the door of the mind to protect the people of this great nation from facts.” It is often weighty, filled with handfuls of mot recherché and esoteric allusions: "He felt the sadness of Lucifer." It is sometimes flippant: "Their brains had not merely been washed, they had been dry-cleaned." But, it is always compelling.
Raymond Shaw has been taken to Manchuria, along with all the other members of his captive platoon, by Chinese and Russian agents who succeed using Pavlovian response theory to so deeply hypnotize him that they can control him for years to come as an assassin spreading chaos through the West. The other members of his unit are hypnotized into believing that Shaw performed actions so heroic that they were deserving of the Medal of Honor which will give Shaw tremendous influence. Yen Lo, the genius who has developed the brain washing technique has Shaw murder coldly two of his mates, Mavole and Lembeck by way of demonstration. Lieutenant Ben Marco who has been brainwashed sufficiently to submit the imaginary heroic action for consideration a few months after the captives are returned to the battleground has absorbed the hypnosis consciously but is haunted by his subconscious through constant nightmares of the brutal murders of Mavole and Lembeck.
The moving force of this novel is Raymond Shaw's mother, a malevolent, incestuous, drug addicted, megalomaniacal, manipulative force behind Raymond, and her husband Johnny Iselin whom she scheming to advance to the U.S. Presidency.
  RonWelton | Aug 1, 2021 |
The Manchurian Candidate tells a completely implausible story - or does it?

Following his capture by Soviet troops during the Korean War, a U.S. soldier named Raymond Shaw is brainwashed and turned into the perfect killing machine. Ultimately, his mission -- eight years in the future -- is to assassinate a leading American political figure (using a Soviet sniper rifle). This would put the candidate favoured by the Soviets and Communist Chinese into the White House.

Within four years of its publication, the book was seen as prescient following the assassination -- by sniper -- of President John F. Kennedy. That assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, had lived for some time in Soviet Russia, though no one alleged that he had been brainwashed into carrying out the attack.

More than a half century later, some saw parallels to The Manchurian Candidate in the allegations of post-Soviet Russian interference in another U.S. presidential election.

But even without those examples, the book's completely bonkers idea that a person could be programmed to become an assassin is less crazy than it might appear. Early in the book, one of the leading characters, a Chinese scientist who is demonstrating to his Soviet and Chinese superiors the success of his method, cites a number of articles and books that back up his theory. And the truly strange thing is this: all the books and articles he cites are real, and we can read them today.

Interestingly, during the Second World War there were some suggestions that this could be done, and that at least one high-profile Nazi held in Britain might be "hypnotised" into returning to Germany and assassinating Himmler. But it was never tried.

The author, Richard Condon, was probably not suggesting that one could (or should) turn people like Raymond Shaw into robotic killing machines. His book is more of a satire of the Cold War and American politics of the McCarthy era (with Shaw's step-father cast as the McCarthy figure).

But it does make one think. ( )
  ericlee | Nov 11, 2020 |
Classic read! ( )
  ejakub | Oct 19, 2020 |
I liked this book overall, but I did struggle to get into the story at the start. As the story developed, I started to recognize some of the characters' historical parallels (i.e. John Iselin and Joe McCarthy) and the plot quickly became convoluted. I struggled with the character of Raymond's mother who pulls the strings from behind the scenes as she pursues political power - I wanted to understand her motivations more, because I felt there should be more to her story than a bad family background and the simple desire for power. Overall, a good story and well worth the read given the number of cultural references to this book. ( )
1 vote wagner.sarah35 | Jul 25, 2018 |
Watched the original film so thought I'd read the novel to compare. Film follows the plot fairly closely, only a few episodes omitted (including how Iselin gets his 'war wound', which is one of the funniest things I've read). Was disturbed by the writing style initially but once I got used to it the story flowed quite well, but I think if I hadn't seen the film I'd be somewhat confused by the plot. ( )
  mlfhlibrarian | Jan 30, 2017 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 23 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
10 of the Greatest Cold War Spy Novels
“This marriage of spy novel and political thriller is a dark satire that dared to suggest the ‘commies under the bed’ tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy only did the cause of Communism a huge favor. At the dawn of the sixties, Condon explored such concepts as sleeper agents, brainwashing, and homegrown political assassination. His bad guys are ostensibly KGB agents (with North Korean accomplices), and his hero a war-traumatized military man, now an intelligence officer, whose best friend has been transformed into a programmed assassin. But the real villain is a Red Queen of a controlling mother whose king is a bargain-basement McCarthy headed for the White House. The John Frankenheimer-directed film (1962) is a classic in its own right, but Condon put it all together in this amazing novel.”
 
Time, a magazine whose editors, after all, have daily experience with overcooked prose, was not wrong in seeing something splendid in the badness of Condon’s book. “The Manchurian Candidate” may be pulp, but it is very tony pulp. It is a man in a tartan tuxedo, chicken à la king with shaved truffles, a signed LeRoy Neiman. It’s Mickey Spillane with an M.F.A., and a kind of summa of the styles of paperback fiction circa 1959...

It is not, in Condon’s vision, the Communist world on one side and the free world on the other. It is just the manipulators and the manipulated, the conditioners and the conditioned, the publicists and the public. In such a world, it’s probably better to be the publicist, if you can deal with the ulcers.
adicionada por SnootyBaronet | editarNew Yorker, Louis Menand (Sep 15, 2003)
 

» Adicionar outros autores (5 possíveis)

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Richard Condonautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculated
D'Achille, GinoArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Hurt, ChristopherNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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The order of Assassins was founded in Persia at the end of the 11th Century. They were committed to anyone willing to pay for the service. Assassins were skeptical of the existence of God and believed that the world of the mind came into existence first, then, finally, the rest of creation.
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"I am sure that all of you have heard that old wives' tale," Yen stated, "which is concerned with the belief that no hypnotized subject may be forced to do that which is repellent to his moral nature, whatever that is, or to his own best interests. That is nonsense, of course."
Iselin is a man who shall forever stand guard at the door of the mind to protect the people of this great nation from facts.
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Sergeant Raymond Shaw returns home from the Korean War to an uproarious welcome from the press and his fellow Americans. Little does anyone realize, not even Shaw himself, that Communist conspirators have planted a secret trigger in his unconscious mind that is intended to allow them to use him as an assassin.

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