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The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon

The Manchurian Candidate (1959)

by Richard Condon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9782013,231 (3.7)52

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English (19)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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 |
Completely surprised me. I expected a good political thriller, I didn't expect excellent writing. The characters are fully fleshed out and the dark comic elements were delightful. Really enjoyable and highly recommended. ( )
1 vote 5hrdrive | Jun 17, 2016 |
One of those books that I felt I ought to read just because I've always heard of it, and knew nothing about it. I haven't ever even seen the movie, so I came into the book expecting nothing.
I have to say, the first half of the book, to me, was kinda boring, slow, and painfully dated. I didn't expect to start liking it.
But - the second half picked up, as the plot, and its unravelling, came to fruition. So it gets an extra star that I didn't really expect to give.
I think I'd recommend it to John le Carre fans - it had a similar feel, and well, it's a spy novel (kinda sorta).

I still can't be wholly enthusiastic about the book though... the main premise (the brainwashing) strained my suspension of disbelief, and the way things play out is really just a little xenophobic and misogynistic. On top of this, the main character is so odd and disturbed that a reader really can't relate to him as a person at all, let alone empathize with his plight.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Fiction is currently the most popular form of writing in America. This book is a very good suspense thriller but I would not call it a spy thriller. The writing is exact and to be recommended but its cynical narrator and characters (except for Ben Marco) are nightmarish. Spies do tend to see everything as morally tainted, patriotism as ideology, and they must do that to undertake their occupation with something besides amoral values. But that isn’t the truth of the real world, and never can be. There are excellent descriptions throughout and a feverish one of New York City which stands out as being particularly good.
Thematically The Manchurian Candidate reminded me of The Dead Zone by Stephen King (another excellent fiction) and The Exorcist (Blatty). In the Exorcist, the younger Fr Karras uses his psychological training to diagnose and undo the hold upon a demonically possessed girl. In The Manchurian Candidate, the powers of psychological diagnosis and ‘reprogramming’ are again at the forefront and their leading practitioners (Communists) are held up as demigods by their political directors. In the novel it is the Russian, North Korean, and Chinese who follow Pavlovian methods and in four days can transform several US POWs into a brainwashed sleeper cell to be returned to destroy the United States. There is one memoir which details the torture methods of ‘turning’ a person to do things against their own will. James Rowe wrote Five Years to Freedom: The True Story of a Vietnam POW. I’m glad Rowe wrote his book before passing away. You won’t read anything like it.
The Manchurian Candidate was published in the 1950s when psychology in America was still avant-garde. Writing perfection, almost.
I haven't seen any of the movie adaptations, although Janet Leigh appears with Frank Sinatra in one. ( )
  sacredheart25 | Aug 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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.

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard Condonprimary authorall editionscalculated
D'Achille, GinoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hurt, ChristopherNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
- Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend
I am you and you are me and what have we done to each other?

- The Keener's Manual
To MAX YOUNGSTEIN, and not only for reasons of affection and admiration, this book is warmly dedicated.
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It was sunny in San Francisco; a fabulous condition.
"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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Sgt. Raymond Shaw is a hero of the first order. He's an ex-prisoner of war who saved the life of his entire outfit, a winner of theCongressional Medal of Honor, the stepson of an influential senator...and the perfect assassin. Brainwashed during his time as a P.O.W., he is a "sleeper"--a living weapon to be triggered by a secret signal. He will act without question, no matter what order he is made to carry out. To stop Shaw and those who now control him, his former commanding officer, Bennett Marco, must uncover the truth behind a twisted conspiracy of torture, betrayal, and power that will lead him to the highest levels of the government -- and into the darkest recesses of his own mind....
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743482972, Mass Market Paperback)

Richard Condon's 1959 Cold War thriller remains just as chilling today. It's the story of Sgt. Raymond Shaw, an ex-prisoner of war (and winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor) who, brainwashed with the rest of his unit by a Chinese psychological expert during his captivity in North Korea, has come home programmed to kill. His primary target is a U.S. presidential nominee. Made into a controversial 1962 movie with Laurence Harvey, Frank Sinatra, and Angela Lansbury.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:36 -0400)

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As compelling and disturbing as when it was first published in the midst of the Cold War, The Manchurian Candidate continues to enthrall readers with its electrifying action and shocking climax. Sgt. Raymond Shaw is a hero of the first order. He's an ex-prisoner of war who saved the life of his entire outfit, a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the stepson of an influential senator, and the perfect assassin. Brainwashed during his time as a P.O.W., he is a "sleeper", a living weapon to be triggered by a secret signal. He will act without question, no matter what order he is made to carry out. To stop Shaw and those who now control him, his former commanding officer, Bennett Marco, must uncover the truth behind a twisted conspiracy of torture, betrayal, and power that will lead him to the highest levels of the government, and into the darkest recesses of his own mind.… (more)

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