Reading the newspaper and minding his own business one morning on the "R" subway train, young John Balfour, adjunct instructor at Borough of Brooklyn Community College, picks up a (supposedly) abandoned Duane Reade shopping bag, discovering to his surprise that hidden inside is a ragged fragment of a journal written in German dating from World War II. Contrary to his instincts telling him "not to go there," Balfour takes the manuscript home, where the hastily-scrawled words open a perilous door: the secret origins of the notorious anti-semitic forgery known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But this first hint is merely the tip of the iceberg, as Balfour's curiosity leads him into a maelstrom of international espionage, anarchy and romance beyond his wildest imagination. He finds himself in forbidden places -- Soviet Russia, Basque Spain, Portugal, and Israel, among others -- as well as lost in the labyrinthine byways of past eras -- absinthe-drenched Paris, the wintry homes of the Czars, spy-infested Vienna, and Weimar Germany at the birth of the Third Reich. There will be no easy escape as death looms ever-nearer. The 25th Protocol is a thriller combining the enigmatic puzzles of The Da Vinci Code with the breakneck pace of Robert Ludlum. And it is a cautionary tale as real as today's headlines -- reminding us that in this post-Cold War, post-modern and media-saturated world, mere history books will fail to reassure and comfort us.
-- Neil Baldwin is the author of the best-selling HENRY FORD AND THE JEWS. His most recent book is THE AMERICAN REVELATION. He is Director of the Creative Research Center at Montclair State University. His web site is www.neilbaldwinbooks.com.