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Comments And Reviews
"Chacko has drawn on his extensive knowledge of Istanbul to present the only accurate and dramatic account of one of the most sensational events of the twentieth century."
In The Satan Machine David Chacko has taken on one of the most familiar events of the twentieth centurythe attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II. There has been so much written about the subject that a fresh point of view seems improbable, but Chacko proves that false.
He does this by throwing aside the half-baked theories that have been floated for the last thirty years. Forget the Bulgarians, the Russians and the KGB (sorry, Tom Clancy). That geopolitical complex had nothing to do with what happened in St. Peter's Square in May 1981, Chacko says, though it did affect what happened in Turkey in the late 1970s. That's where a fair portion of this story is set. What happened there at that time was a species of chaos that should never take place in a sane democratic society.
Turkey was a battleground between left and right that was fought in the streets with extreme fury. Like Germany in the 1930s, it spawned violent factions of which the fascist Gray Wolves were one. Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who shot the pope, was a Wolf. He and his friends and the things they did are Chacko's focus in The Satan Machine. In fact, they are the gears of the machine, though never its power.
All this would mean little to a writer who knew Turkey superficially, but Chacko has proven through several books that he knows the country, and particularly the city of Istanbul, where much of the ferment occurred, like few writers in English. We could ask who knows it better and come away with nothing.
The daily life of the city, the power relationships, the cuisine, the politicians high and low, the intelligence agents who are always among the lowest, the violence and sectarian hatreds, are all brought to life in a vivid and original way. In the end the main thing we marvel at is not how the violence was finally contained, but how it seems the most natural thing to have spread across Turkey's borders and into the lap of what we call Western Civilization.
"Chacko digs deep to tell an action-packed story that's guaranteed to keep you up late into the night."
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