Review: The Trial of Prisoner 043

The Trial of Prisoner 043 by Terry Jastrow

Four Springs Press, 2017.  Hardcover or paperback, 256 pages.Cover: Trial of Prisoner 043

This novel by Jastrow is a hypothetical novel based on the idea that George W. Bush would be tried for war crimes related to the Iraq War that began in 2003.  As the novel opens, Bush is abducted by a commando team and taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.  From there readers will join the defense and prosecution as the trial unfolds.  Side stories include how the American government reacts and the relationship between the former president and his wife.

I think the point is this novel is not to criminalize the man (though it could be taken that way), but to show that the Iraq War went a long way to destabilizing a region and leading to the rise of radical militant Islam mainly based on the disregard of the facts.  I took both coursework in Middle Eastern politics and history as an undergrad and there are very few scholars who would dispute that the removal of Saddam Hussein tipped the power scale in the Middle East as many feared him.  And I do remember wondering why a war with Iraq was started when the focus should have been on Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda.

As a whole, this hypothetical novel read like non-fiction.  For better or for worse, that made it feel like this really happened when it is fiction.  Though it may have been tightened in the published version, the advanced reader’s edition has cases of wordiness where too many descriptors were added and I felt that detracted from the novel.  Lastly, the extensive list of references at the end show that quite a bit of the text was based on things that occurred in the past, however keep in mind that the exact context of its use within this novel drives a fictional plot.  Overall, I think readers who like legal fiction would enjoy the novel.  And the first chapter with the abduction would also appeal to those who like Tom Clancy novels.

What do you think about the theory in this book?  Would you read it and why?

I was offered this book for review by FSB Associates.

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