In This Review

The Golden Hour
The Golden Hour
By Todd Moss
Putnam Adult, 2014, 336 pp

Judd Ryker, the daring hero of Moss’ novel, is a U.S. diplomat based in Mali who, over the course of 100 hours, must undo a coup, free a kidnapped Peace Corps volunteer, and stop an attack on the U.S. embassy. As the head of a crisis-response unit, Ryker faces down terrorists and -- almost as dangerous -- vicious bureaucratic infighting at the U.S. Department of State. In an author’s note, Moss, an economist who served briefly as a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of African Affairs, explains that his novel was partly inspired by the coup that took place in Mauritania in 2008, during his time in government. Although the novel suggests that Moss feels some animus toward the U.S. Foreign Service, professional diplomats will enjoy comparing his fictional portrayal with the reality they know. The novel provides little insight into how U.S. foreign policy has been made in recent years, nor does it illuminate the institutional issues that bedevil U.S. foreign policy. The Golden Hour mostly aims to entertain -- and in that, it succeeds.