Summary and book reviews of A Hole In Texas by Herman Wouk

A Hole In Texas

By Herman Wouk

A Hole In Texas
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2004,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2005,
    288 pages.

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Book Summary

From the legendary bestselling author comes his first novel in a decade--a rollicking Washington tale about a media firestorm swirling around a vast Hole in Texas and one obscure scientist who gets swept up in the vortex. 

Guy Carpenter has a prestigious job at NASA, a devoted wife and new baby, and, aside from a troublemaking cat, a settled, quiet life. But things take an unexpected turn when this regular guy finds himself mixed up in an international scandal of enormous proportions.

Years ago, Guy worked on the Superconducting Super Collider, a giant government project dedicated to detecting a tiny, elusive particle called the Higgs boson. Wrangling in Congress shut the project down before it could succeed, but now the Chinese claim to have found the boson. It is a discovery that sends the nation into a panic. How did the Chinese surpass American science? What about the horrific military implications of a Boson Bomb? Is it time to start casting Hollywood's first boson-based blockbuster? An expert is needed to assess the new threat to national security.

Guy is propelled into the center of the media blitz, his old love with a Chinese female physicist resurfaces, a new romance with a beautiful Congresswoman beckons, and the breakup of his happy marriage threatens. In the meantime, Congress holds urgent hearings, Hollywood comes courting, the CIA is investigating, and an unctuous reporter dogs his every step.

Once again, Herman Wouk, the man the New York Times has called "a modern Charles Dickens," exercises his deep insight and considerable comic powers to give us a witty and keen satire--about Washington, the media, and science, and what happens when these three great forces of American culture clash.

Chapter 1.
The Particle Physicist

We all have bad days, and Dr. Guy Carpenter awoke to rain drumming on gray windows, with a qualm in his gut about what this drab day might bring. Late at night an e-mail had come in, summoning him to an urgent morning meeting at the Jet Propulsion Lab with no reason given, an ill omen indeed to a survivor of the abort on the Texas plain. He was in pajamas at the desk in his den, gnawing at a slice of Swiss cheese on sourdough bread as he marked up a gloomy cost estimate of new space telescopes, when his wife burst in, her long black hair hanging in wet tangled ringlets, her soaked nightgown clinging transparently to her slim body. "Sweeney got out," she barked.

"No! How, this time?"

"I took out the trash, that's how. They collect it Wednesday at seven, or have you forgotten? It's raining buckets, I hurried, I left the screen door unlatched, and the bastard slipped out. I tried to catch him and got drenched."

"I'll find him....

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Reviews

BookBrowse

Herman Wouk was born in 1915, which makes him 88 years old, but he writes like a man half his age. This is his first book in 10 years. Incidentally, the hole in Texas referred to in the title is the real-life multi-billion dollar underground 50-mile Superconducting Super Collider which was built in Texas with the aim of finding the elusive Higgs bosun subatomic particle. In 1993, Congress, during the Clinton administration, pulled the plug on the project - leaving a very large, very expensive hole and a few thousand physicists out of work.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

The plot is busy but secondary to Carpenter's banter and romantic escapades. Occasionally corny but also playful, thoughtful and passionate, this first novel by Wouk in 10 years will charm fans with its companionable warmth and wry humor.

Library Journal

Unassuming NASA physicist Guy Carpenter, who abandoned his hunt for a particle called the Higgs Boson, is suddenly in the limelight when the Chinese claim they've made the discovery. Oh, yes, and his old Chinese flame is in the offing.

Kirkus Reviews

At 88, Wouk (The Will to Live On, 2000) writes with the brightness of a 45-year-old kid hell-bent on fun about subatomic physics. Ingenious. Absolutely ingenious.

The New York Times - Janet Maslin

… Mr. Wouk also uses the nostalgic preobscenity whatever the Sam Hill it is to characterize the Higgs boson, the subatomic particle around which this novel revolves. Well, whatever the Sam Hill he may have had in mind with such a premise, he spins it into a crackling yarn and writes with an enduring vigor that whippersnappers might envy.

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The Higgs particle was first hypothesized by the Scottish scientist Peter Higgs in 1964.  After taking a weekend walk in the Cairngorm Mountains he returned  to his laboratory in Edinburgh on Monday and declared to his colleagues that he had just experienced his 'one big idea' and now had an answer to the mystery of how matter in the universe got its mass. Since then a few billion dollars have been poured into the quest to find the 'Higgs boson' - which, if it exists, has such a central role in defining the universe that it's also known as the God Particle.

...

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