Mission Compromised is retired Marine and notorious Iran-Contra figure Oliver North’s entertaining attempt to show the exploits of government and military officials trying to combat terrorism.  North succeeds in his attempt, thanks to believable characters and a fast-paced plot.  And although the novel is set during the mid-1990s, the issues it explores--such as terrorists’ efforts to acquire nuclear and biochemical weapons--are very relevant for today.  So, too, are some of the characters:  Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

But fact and fiction sometimes merge in uncomfortable ways in Mission Compromised.  Most notably, North actually makes himself a character in his own novel.  The effect is dangerously close to egomania, and although North has said in interviews that creating an Oliver North character was essential to the story, the book could have been written without doing so.

The book explores the theme of faith mainly through a subplot about the main character’s marital problems.  But it also raises moral issues with which various characters must grapple, such as whether the government should specifically plan missions to kill leaders who refuse to follow international law and how government contractors hoping for new business should contribute to political campaigns.  

It also looks at what can happen when the best laid plans go wrong.  In promotional material for the book, North said, “…there are times when you have to make a decision and the only two choices you have are bad and worse.”  No matter how readers feel about North’s famous decisions during the Iran-Contra scandal, after reading Mission Compromised they will likely feel some empathy for government and military officials who face complex and sometimes agonizing decisions as they seek to serve our country.