World powers get little respect from Christopher Buckley in his latest novel, “They Eat Puppies, Don't They?” (Hachette Book Group, $25.99). And as the title might suggest, there is a lot of humor to be
Buckley aims most of his satirical ammunition at Chinese government officials but also lobs a few shells at the way things happen in the U.S. A top manufacturer fails to get congressional approval of a new weapons system, so he hires lobbyist Walter “Bird” McIntyre to convince Americans they should fear the Chinese. Even with sexy neocon Angel Templeton's help, Bird can't come up with a valid reason to suggest conflict with China is imminent.
As their relationship becomes more cozy, Bird and Angel concoct a rumor that the Chinese are out to kill the Dalai Lama. Then they see that it is leaked to the national media which, of course, jumps on it full force.
Meanwhile, the new president of China, Fa Mengyao, a peace-loving man, is struggling against his country's radical military and security leaders who seem to be searching for reasons to challenge America, and the media stories grab their attention. Their plots to assassinate the saintly Buddhist leader are sometimes hilarious and their arguments ridiculous.
As tensions mount, Bird is distracted by his own conflicts — a growing affair with Angel and a suspicious, spoiled wife who is about to turn him into a pauper.
In his cast of characters, Buckley describes various imaginary officials in China and the U.S., naming only one talk show host who is real. The usual disclaimer describes the book as a “work of fiction,” and one can only hope there are no exceptions to that.
— Kay Dyer