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4.3 out of 5 stars115
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 8 July 2002
There were things I really didn't like about this book, but all credit to Baldacci - he kept me turning the pages. It was a preposterous plot, but well structured for all that. I agree with another reviewer that calling the hero Web London almost made me put the book back on the shelf. But the action kept coming and it did give an insight into how the FBI and its hostage rescue teams work.
The story is convoluted to say the least, and although you can see it's heading to an unlikely ending, you still want to get there. But Baldacci does have a habit of getting his characters to recap the plot in ludicrous conversations. And no matters how he tries to explain it, some of the people and the twists are plain unbelievable. It might not persuade me to read another of his books, but despite myself, I enjoyed this one.
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on 8 November 2001
An FBI Agent, point-man on a hostage rescue team, is desperate to find answers to why people connected with him are being silenced.
Last Man Standing, is a techno-thriller minus the jargon; it is an adventure, a fantastic psychological thriller, & Baldacci has convincingly combined the elements of all these sub-genres in an action-packed book.
While the action is not past paced, it is thick & furious. London is a real fallible hero, similar to the protagonists in many Frederick Forsyth novels, which makes the character & the story totally believable.
Web London has many features of a series character, & I wouldn't be surprised to catch him in any future Baldacci novels.
I enjoyed this punching chiller-thriller.
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on 30 November 2001
This is a terrific read, a real novel in the style of a thriller. The characters have plausible depth to them and likewise subject matter expertise is there in abundance, across a variety of areas, to provide a breathing space between the twists and turns of a totally believable plot. ...More importantly this was my first Baldicci book and I'm delighted to have discovered another of the decidedly few authors who can compose and elaborate with style, depth and eloquence.
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on 10 January 2002
I made the (perhaps understandable) mistake of reading Baldacci's last novel, "Wish You Well", which was not a thriller, but a family saga, and I read it because I was a big fan of his earlier work (particularly Absolute Power and Total Control). Wish You Well, was well, tedious - "Last Man Standing" ROCKS all the way to the stunning ending. Baldacci is back!
So what's this one about? Our hero, Web London, the best of the best in the Hostage Rescue Team, chokes on an op, leaving his men dead. But why did he freeze? And who was behind the massacre? Stir in a love-interest, a sexy psychiatrist who can get into your mind and your bed, and some rather evil bad guys. Brew ungently for a few hundred pages, and - voila!
I have two quibbles, small, but things I should let you know. The book seems to me too long @ 550 pages. This is a 400 page novel overpacked with insider research about things covert. Secondly, the hero's name, Web London, bugged me @ first. Web? What's that? And London might sound kool in the US, but for us living in London, it sounds naff.
Small quibbles, these, since this is the best thriller I've read for a while. A couple of books you'll probably like if you're into this genre: Dexter Dias's "Power of Atttorney" - a fine thriller about what happens when witness protection programmes go pear-shaped and murders result. Also, Robert Crais's "Hostage", another HRT story.
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on 4 December 2005
This book kept me turning the pages until the early hours of the morning. I even missed my stop on the train because i kept reading. The descriptions of the characters were detailed and you really got in tocuh with them.
The main character - Web - is followed throughout the book and you are made to feel as if you know the guy inside out.
Great novel and will be sure to try David Baldacci's new one.
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VINE VOICEon 11 April 2006
This is my second Baldacci book and it's a cracker!
Web London heads a crack FBI hostage rescue team. His team is wiped out but he survives. Why was the teams set up and wiped out? Why did he survive?
It's over 500 pages long but worth it as Baldacci really nails the characters in this book. There are a good dozen characters along the way that you really get a feel for. You develop a great understanding of what drive the main character in this page turning thriller. There are lots of turns and twists along the way, most of which I did not see coming!
If you like thrillers check this one out for sure. 10/10.
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Caution: The Last Man Standing is not for the squeamish or those who have nightmares about what they read. The book has many scenes of extreme violence and mayhem aimed at good guys and bad. The book's language is also laced with virtually every common swear word that you know.
What differentiates Last Man Standing from the standard shoot-em-up thriller is that Mr. Baldacci explores the mind as much as he does the physical. Providing that context makes the book more intense, meaningful, and complex.
The book's hero, Web London, is also someone you will find interesting and admirable. At his job as a Hostage Rescue Team assaulter for the FBI, he is bold, brave, and extremely capable. But, it has come with a price. He has an unattractively reconstructed face from wounds that makes him seem like Frankenstein to some, a body covered with bullet scars, and no family life. As you will learn in the book, he also had a trouble childhood that makes personal connection seem risky to him.
So, his fellow team members and their families have become his family. Imagine, then, the blow that comes when the six other assaulters are all mown down by machine gun fire during a raid on what was thought to be a drug organization's accounting operation. What makes it worse is that he froze at the start of the assault, or he would be dead with them. Imagine the guilt! To make matters worse, he is suspected of either being a coward or having been paid off. Life gets worse.
It becomes apparent that someone has been leaking confidential FBI information, or this slaughter could not have occurred. Who is it? Why would they want to wipe out a hostage rescue team? How was it accomplished? These are just some of the many mysteries that are brought forth. Soon, others are dying in a pattern that seem to tie back to the escape of Ernest B. Free (leader of the Free Society) from prison. Free had been the cause of the crisis that had led to the death of a little boy hostage in the assault that had cost Web London his face.
Mr. Baldacci has a strength as a story-teller in that he saves up lots of revelations for you, and deals them out frequently . . . like discount tickets to return to a theme park. This quality first becomes clear at page 99, so keep going in the beginning if you are wondering why people have liked this book. The surprises come more frequently after that. So you will want to keep turning the pages.
As the story evolves, Mr. Baldacci also provides the reader with information that the FBI doesn't have so that you can appreciate the conflict more as it develops. You will know who did what and why long before the end of the book, but the resolution of the conflict will be interesting enough that you will want to continue to the end.
The book's weakness is that the writing could have been tightened up quite a bit. There are about 200 pages of extra material in this book that should have been edited out. One of the problems of becoming a best-selling author is that you get too much power over the editors, and the amount of editing declines. With proper editing, this book could have been one of the top thrillers of all time. Without the editing, a clever concept, interesting hero, and entertaining story are allowed to clank along awkwardly for long sections where neither character nor story development occur. Mr. Baldacci, less is sometimes more . . . especially in writing!
Why do you do the work that you do? What kind of family life do you want to have? If things aren't the way you would like them in your work or family life, why aren't you changing them?
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on 13 September 2011
The book is absolutely fascinating, but slightly too slow and long, especially at the beginning. But when we are captured by the story and the story really starts moving, we are running along these numerous pages.

It is a thriller about a mass vengeful act prompted by the death of a child in the hands of a band of crazy self-defined defenders of human, meaning white, protestant and Anglo Saxon, freedom. These self-appointed freedom fighters even attract some adventurers who very fast manage to take over some illegal drug or violence dealing bands of criminals.

Without burning the candle of that thriller from both ends and spoiling your pleasure, let me make some remarks that are more general than the details of the very complex plot.

First the major criminals, those who are organizing everything are not black but white and they have learned the trade of violence and trafficking in Vietnam. It is not only brutal violence but it is all the mental, psychological and spiritual violence needed for some individuals to manipulate others. To kill in a way is technically easy. But to manipulate grown-ups, or even children, into doing something unethical, brutal or just plain absurd or apparently meaningless it needs a lot more power in the brain than in the trigger-finger or the two kickers and two upper-cutters our physiology has provided us with. The same is true of the cops and law-enforcing officers.

The second remark is that we are dealing here with the special security units that have been set up in most countries over the last fifty years or so to answer, disband, dismantle and destroy all groups, gangs, bands or whatever who try to seize anything that is not theirs with some kind of violence for any reason and motive and goal of any color or shape you may imagine. These units are supposed to be secret but they are as secret as the US Constitution, that is to say scrutinized by the press, Congress and all other mediatic or humanitarian or civil rights organization as if they were some laboratory rats.

That will lead you to a surprise: the absolute absence of warrants in all these operations. In other words these operations are in no way under the control, command and managing from judicial authorities, as it should be. There is no Habeas Corpus, except as plain bodies meaning corpses, and live bodies are the exception if not totally impossible. There is no sealed or locked door that has to be opened under a judge's authority. These special units of the FBI are not even under the control of permanent judges attached to them like in the case of the sexual crime special unit in New York. They work along absolutely illegal lines, avenues, a priori decisions that remain outside constitutional control. This is illegal and it is manipulation of justice, society and people. It is the government OF people FROM uncontrolled official circles BY uncontrolled police professionals. We are very far from Gettysburg. Or the Civil War has been decreed to be permanent.

The next remark is the emergence of the simple idea that the blacks are not the main danger in this society. They are taking advantage of some trafficking activities but they are not those who have the upper hand on the business. They are not even the most violent ones. The whole business is run by white extreme right activists or militants from organizations like the National Rifle Association (quoted in the book) that have an objective that would have made Al Capone cringe: to retire in some peaceful island with no FBI agent on their heels and with a lot of money on some paradisiac bank account. Retiring has become a major objective of people in our societies and that is amazing how they can imagine themselves producing nothing, doing nothing, just fishing or hunting or practicing some hobby. This is killing the West and the USA. Luckily there are a few people who still believe that to get a share of the profit produced in a society, you have to produce it first and that you are not entitled to getting anything if you do not produce anything.

You will be surprised that criminals will not get their retirement, nor their pensions and that all the others will end up going on with their activities, even if it is dangerous and it requires them to go to hospital on a regular basis.

The last remark is that women have become essential in these thrillers and Baldacci is sure one of the male gang that believes women are essential to and for survival. We could have avoided though the sexual orientation humor about a couple of film makers who are seen as gay at first but then become drooling straight males when one woman appears, though they should be better mentally equipped since they are in pornographic film production. But that is a side remark though not a side-kick in the novel. More interesting though is the cult of the father and father image and of the relations betweens sons and fathers in this novel. It actually becomes obsessive and probably excessive, especially when going and visiting one's father in prison is the last line of the book.

At times Baldacci is giving us too much technical detail about activities, situations, or whatever. It turns some pages into some kind of lectures maybe for the dummies who don't know about hypnosis or the use of assault weapons.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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on 21 April 2007
I have just completed another rollercoaster ride with one of Mr Baldacci's brilliantly formed characters.

Web London is a crack trouper with the HRT or Hostage Rescue Team. The story opens with Web finding himself caught up in what appears to be a normal hit on a drugs operation. The idea being to go in and bring out the workers alive for questioning. This plan suddenly goes awry when he and his colleagues set off an ambush. Web is nearly caught up in the whole thing but he mysteriously freezes just before the gunfire starts, ultimately being the only member of his team to survive - The Last Man Standing.

Three scenarios are being thrown around by his other colleagues at the FBI:He is either chicken, has been set up or he is part of the set up. Web sets out to try and prove his innocence whilst trying to solve the mystery too. He gets put on to another case whilst he carries out his own illicit investigations and before long it seems that there may be a connection between the two.

As all this is going on , Web tries to get to the bottom of what made him freeze. He goes to see his Psychiatrist but finds that the man isn't available and ends up speaking to one of his associates. Web's regular Psych isn't very happy about this and tries to disuade him form seeing another therapist. Why? What reason would this guy have to try and prevent his client seeing another Psychiatrist if he was more comfortable talking to her?

The story starts off a little slowly and so there is a lot of prose and jumping back and forth between threads. Once the different threads of the story are linked, things start to pick up pace and it becomes a reall page turner.
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Caution: The Last Man Standing is not for the squeamish or those who have nightmares about what they read. The book has many scenes of extreme violence and mayhem aimed at good guys and bad. The book's language is also laced with virtually every common swear word that you know.
What differentiates Last Man Standing from the standard shoot-em-up thriller is that Mr. Baldacci explores the mind as much as he does the physical. Providing that context makes the book more intense, meaningful, and complex.
The book's hero, Web London, is also someone you will find interesting and admirable. At his job as a Hostage Rescue Team assaulter for the FBI, he is bold, brave, and extremely capable. But, it has come with a price. He has an unattractively reconstructed face from wounds that makes him seem like Frankenstein to some, a body covered with bullet scars, and no family life. As you will learn in the book, he also had a trouble childhood that makes personal connection seem risky to him.
So, his fellow team members and their families have become his family. Imagine, then, the blow that comes when the six other assaulters are all mown down by machine gun fire during a raid on what was thought to be a drug organization's accounting operation. What makes it worse is that he froze at the start of the assault, or he would be dead with them. Imagine the guilt! To make matters worse, he is suspected of either being a coward or having been paid off. Life gets worse.
It becomes apparent that someone has been leaking confidential FBI information, or this slaughter could not have occurred. Who is it? Why would they want to wipe out a hostage rescue team? How was it accomplished? These are just some of the many mysteries that are brought forth. Soon, others are dying in a pattern that seem to tie back to the escape of Ernest B. Free (leader of the Free Society) from prison. Free had been the cause of the crisis that had led to the death of a little boy hostage in the assault that had cost Web London his face.
Mr. Baldacci has a strength as a story-teller in that he saves up lots of revelations for you, and deals them out frequently . . . like discount tickets to return to a theme park. This quality first becomes clear at page 99, so keep going in the beginning if you are wondering why people have liked this book. The surprises come more frequently after that. So you will want to keep turning the pages.
As the story evolves, Mr. Baldacci also provides the reader with information that the FBI doesn't have so that you can appreciate the conflict more as it develops. You will know who did what and why long before the end of the book, but the resolution of the conflict will be interesting enough that you will want to continue to the end.
The book's weakness is that the writing could have been tightened up quite a bit. There are about 200 pages of extra material in this book that should have been edited out. One of the problems of becoming a best-selling author is that you get too much power over the editors, and the amount of editing declines. With proper editing, this book could have been one of the top thrillers of all time. Without the editing, a clever concept, interesting hero, and entertaining story are allowed to clank along awkwardly for long sections where neither character nor story development occur. Mr. Baldacci, less is sometimes more . . . especially in writing!
Why do you do the work that you do? What kind of family life do you want to have? If things aren't the way you would like them in your work or family life, why aren't you changing them?
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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