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THE ILLUMINATI
[ Larry Burkett | 1991 ]

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The Illuminati - Click to view!Larry Burkett, the best-selling author of financial self-help books, began his career in Christian fiction in 1991; the surprising result was the thrilling, moving, breathless-to-the-end drama The Illuminati. Sans Peretti and Jenkins, this book alone establishes Burkett as the most engrossing author the stagnant Christian market has ever seen; and I do mean this work alone in that his later efforts weren't nearly as riveting. The setup is simple enough: a young computer whiz proves Cal Tech's professors wrong with his accurate quake prediction--and is employed by a Society shrouded in secrecy to design a computer network able to handle a cashless, worldwide monetary system. In the Presidential election, an underhanded misinformation scheme surrounding the quake makes the incumbent president and a U.S. Senator's opponent look like heartless politicians--thus handing the power of the nation's highest office to Mark Hunt and the Society he is a pawn for. The world financial markets are shattered by instability, as Japan is leveled and a tidal wave striking the U.S. west coast reaps billions in damages. At this same time, Congress is facing severe reproach from Christians regarding a proposed bill. The crusading saints decide that the issue is too important, and march without permits in planned peaceful demonstrations across the country - and are shocked when members of their own group being firing on police. "Plants!" one demonstrator realized. "They were always the first to volunteer for anything, but I never saw any real commitment to the Lord." It (predictably) goes downhill from there, as Christians are arrested as terrorists, some killed, and others sent to the detention camps in Arizona and California--where 10-megaton nuclear devices are planted, ready to be initiated when the camps are fully occupied. A multi-level organization is responsible for these atrocities, and Burkett unravels the diabolical plans plotted by The Illuminati, a Society whose members now are in the world's highest elected positions, including the President of the United States. President Hunt sees through the set-up "riots" by a group that had never been violent before; "Unfortunate," notes the President's aide, part of the Society's inner circle. He acts swiftly to assassinate Hunt and shift blame to the troublesome believers (cleverly trading Hunt's Society exposť for a speech declaring martial law). With the nation's focus on a staged Israeli oil crisis, newly-elected Society devotee Kathy Alton is praised for implementing Data-Net as the sole means of transaction.

But there's a joker in the Illuminati's deck and his name is Jeff Wells, the 25 year-old computer genius who created the flawless network so vital to their plans. With agents guarding Wells' every contact and communication, it takes his colleague Dr. Eison months to open a cloaked channel within Data-Net, and convince clear-thinking Wells of the imminent danger the nation is in. Chapter 21 reveals the underground, an organized group of "defectors" committed to restoring Truth and order to the nation and world. When they learn the shocking plans of the Society, the chiefs of staff and former FBI agents work with Pastor John Elder and hundreds of other Christians. Jeff Wells quickly sets to work, able to drain the government of funds, delay for weeks the Society's transportation of innocent believers and shut down the nation for hours at a time through his undetectable entries into Data-Net--leaving the public fed up with the system and the government in a desperate search for the perpetrator. Daring escape, revealing betrayal, personal struggle and international deception are some of the elements Burkett builds into this masterpiece work of both realistic character and smart dialogue. A potentially fatal error written into the 1991 paperback is the out-of-date scheme of events (the 90s supposedly saw a massive-scale invasion of Israel by the Arabs, a depression in 1996, and the demolishment of the Japanese islands by a 8.2 earthquake). Enjoy a laugh or two over Burkett's miscalculations, but by all means stimulate your mind by getting The Illuminati, a book that I've just couldn't put down even after my fifth time through.
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