Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter

Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter is a book I have read twice over the last couple months. There are a series of books traveling between a few folks and I seem to be the end of a lot of it. Will have to pass some stuff on to other folks in the near future but that is another discussion.

The amazon blurb is:
He was one the best Marine snipers in Vietnam. Today, twenty years later, disgruntled hero of an unheroic war, all Bob Lee Swagger wants to be left alone and to leave the killing behind.

But with consummate psychological skill, a shadowy military organization seduces Bob into leaving his beloved Arkansas hills for one last mission for his country, unaware until too late that the game is rigged.

The assassination plot is executed to perfection—until Bob Lee Swagger, alleged lone gunman, comes out of the operation alive, the target of a nationwide manhunt, his only allies a woman he just met and a discredited FBI agent.

Now Bob Lee Swagger is on the run, using his lethal skills once more—but this time to track down the men who set him up and to break a dark conspiracy aimed at the very heart of America.


The book has also been described as 'A thinking mans Rambo'.

 If you haven't picked it up by now this is the book which inspired the 2007 Marky Mark masterpiece Shooter. As such I am not excessively concerned with spoilers.

The Good:
A fast and enjoyable read. The combination of action and military/ military industrial complex/ intelligence type intrigue makes the book a page turner. A lot of the intrigue stuff was lost when the book was turned into a movie.

If you are into folks talking about the technology, skill and theory of ling distance precision shooting you will have a lot to like in this book. Also there was a lot of general gun talk. On the fun side since the book was written in the early 90's it is now dated in a way that is somewhat amusingly antiquated. Cops carrying revolvers, era appropriate scopes and 1911's, sweet leather holsters and even a prominently displayed Mini-14. I found it quite fun in a sort of nostalgic way.

The importance of cold hard cash and caches came up in a meaningful way. Survivalists can get so into ideas about gear, food, etc that they fail to realize it is far more likely a scenario will be greatly improved by a big wad of 20's than fero rods and fishing line. Of course we can all agree guns are pretty useful.

The portrayal of Southern and or shooting culture is pretty accurate. In particular the importance of the concept of honor was accurately portrayed. Of course it is a book so arguably some stuff was amplified a bit but a whole lot more was right than wrong.

The Bad:
Any time you have an action type story line, especially with a strong bad ass type character, the story almost invariably has some times where it gets a bit unrealistic to the point where it fails the common sense test.

While I do enjoy the technical gun stuff  at times it likely detracted from the story. We really didn't need to have discussions about the type of reloading dies Bobby Lee used or the particular gunsmith who might have installed a particular aftermarket barrel on a Remington 700 .308. I found it fun and interesting in a well thought out, albeit period appropriate way but for many folks it was at best neutral and at worst an annoyance.

I sort of think this was the kind of 'shout out's' to the shooting community like how a rap song has to mention 3 dumpy areas and country songs mention a whole bunch of southern and or western states plus rivers and mountain ranges.

[Seriously, I listen to country music and while I enjoy the older stuff it is not on the radio as much as one might like so the newer stuff gets some play. Some of the new stuff is good even though much of it is a bit poppy. However the need to mention so many locations is ridiculous. I have made a game of counting how many specific places songs mention. Maybe market research has said that if an artist mentions a state sales there go up so every song has to mention Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, the Carolina's, Texas, etc. The ones who really think it out can mention every state in the Confederacy, 3 rivers, 2 cities, a swamp and a mountain range. Don't even get me started on that psuedo rap country crap music they play on the radio now.]

The Ugly:
None.

Discussion: This book is a fictional action based story and as such is probably not long on tangible lessons unless you really want to build an early 90's inspired high end precision rifle based on a Remington 700. Still it is a good read and you might well grab some amusing tid bits out of it.

Overall Assessment: You can get a copy of the paperback for well under ten bucks, probably under five at a used book store. It is an enjoyable read and well worth purchasing. I think you will enjoy reading it and pick it up off the shelf to revisit every so often.

4 comments:

Pineslayer said...

I will check out that book. I am almost done with Patriot Dawn by Max Velocity.

New country music, ugh. Country pop sums it up, and I can't stand pop. Marketing has killed C & W. Mr. Cash is probably trying to claw his way out. RIP

Commander_Zero said...

POI was a great book, but in my opinion it suffered the same fate as the "Highlander" movies - the first one was awesome and the subsequent followups were just less and less good.

Harry Flashman said...

Somebody sent me this book, and I remember it was a good read. I enjoyed it.

Theother Ryan said...

Zero, It was. I haven't read any of the others; actually just noticed they exist on Amazon yesterday when I snagged the blurb.

Harry, Yes it was.

Thanks to both of you.
-Ryan

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