Richard Condon’s tour de force fictional presentation shows the validity of Oscar Wilde’s observation, “Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it, but molds it to its purpose.” At the time he wrote the book, Richard Condon had no inkling about the CIA’s extensive mind-control experiments. In his novel, the total takeover of the protagonist’s mind is achieved by a Chinese psycho-scientist — as U.S. propaganda had led the public to believe the threat coming from. But in reality, the brainwashing techniques that he described were developed and used by the CIA — not Chinese or Soviet Communists.

What is extraordinary about the novel is that it went against accepted scientific and medical opinion of the time which held than no one could be made to commit a criminal act against his own will or moral code.