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State of Terror

A Novel

Read by Joan Allen



About The Book


Named one of the most anticipated novels of the season by People, Associated Press, Time, Los Angeles Times, Parade, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, and more.

From the #1 bestselling authors Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny comes a novel of unsurpassed thrills and incomparable insider expertise—State of Terror.

After a tumultuous period in American politics, a new administration has just been sworn in, and to everyone’s surprise the president chooses a political enemy for the vital position of secretary of state.

There is no love lost between the president of the United States and Ellen Adams, his new secretary of state. But it’s a canny move on the part of the president. With this appointment, he silences one of his harshest critics, since taking the job means Adams must step down as head of her multinational media conglomerate.

As the new president addresses Congress for the first time, with Secretary Adams in attendance, Anahita Dahir, a young foreign service officer (FSO) on the Pakistan desk at the State Department, receives a baffling text from an anonymous source.

Too late, she realizes the message was a hastily coded warning.

What begins as a series of apparent terrorist attacks is revealed to be the beginning of an international chess game involving the volatile and Byzantine politics of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran; the race to develop nuclear weapons in the region; the Russian mob; a burgeoning rogue terrorist organization; and an American government set back on its heels in the international arena.

As the horrifying scale of the threat becomes clear, Secretary Adams and her team realize it has been carefully planned to take advantage of four years of an American government out of touch with international affairs, out of practice with diplomacy, and out of power in the places where it counts the most.

To defeat such an intricate, carefully constructed conspiracy, it will take the skills of a unique team: a passionate young FSO; a dedicated journalist; and a smart, determined, but as yet untested new secretary of state.

State of Terror is a unique and utterly compelling international thriller cowritten by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 67th secretary of state, and Louise Penny, a multiple award-winning #1 New York Times bestselling novelist.

Reading Group Guide

1. Which characters in this book do you think are based on real-life people, and why? Which do you think are composites?

2. Why did the president offer the position of secretary of state to someone he thought of as an enemy? And what would make someone accept a position like this? Do you think this happens in real life, at that level of politics?

3. Discuss the relationship between Betsy and Ellen. How unusual is it in thrillers to have this relationship at the heart of the book? Do you have a similar relationship in your life?

4. Ellen seems to have been continuously underestimated by men, either due to her age or her gender. Did you find this realistic? How did she use this to her advantage as the plot unfolded?

5. Discuss Anahita's role in the novel. Did you find her sympathetic?

6. Do you think Ellen and her son Gil share some of the same traits and characteristics, in terms of diplomacy, integrity, and tenacity?

7. What were your impressions of Dunn's interactions with Ellen? Do you think a former president could—or would—act the way he did? Do you feel like Ellen had the upper hand?

8. What was the most surprising twist in the novel for you?

9. Did you feel the Russian president had similarities to or differences from President Putin? How realistic was this portrayal?

10. Near the end of the book, we have this sentence: "I think we have our next nightmare." What do you think this means?

11. How do you think this book compares to other political thrillers out there? How is it different? In a good way, or a bad way?

12. What are some of the book’s strengths? Weaknesses?

About The Authors

Photo Credit: Jean-Franc¸ois Be´rube´

Louise Penny is an international award winning and bestselling author whose books have hit #1 on the New York Times, USA TODAY, and Globe and Mail (Toronto) lists. Her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels, published by Minotaur Books, an imprint of the St. Martin’s Publishing Group, have been translated into thirty-one languages. In 2017, she received the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian culture. Louise Penny lives in a village south of Montréal.

Photograph by Joe McNally

Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first woman in US history to become the presidential nominee of a major political party. She served as the 67th Secretary of State after nearly four decades in public service advocating on behalf of children and families as an attorney, First Lady, and US Senator. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author of seven previous books, all published by Simon & Schuster.

About The Reader

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/St. Martin’s Press (October 12, 2021)
  • Length: 13 disks
  • Runtime: 15 hours and 41 minutes
  • ISBN13: 9781797128504

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Raves and Reviews

"Narrator Joan Allen’s portrayal of newly appointed Secretary of State Ellen Adams has echoes of Hillary Clinton herself. Allen’s well-paced reading handily unfurls this roller-coaster thriller as Ellen contends with terrorist acts AND the backbiting and political maneuverings of White House leaders."

– AudioFile Magazine

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