Psychology and politics, or more accurately the psychology of people in political conflicts, are the topics of three of my favorites of the 1964 bestsellers: Armageddon by Leon Uris, The Man by Irving Wallace, and The Martyred by Richard E. Kim.
Oddly enough, the central characters of each of these novels are not themselves memorable.
Armageddon is a fictional account of the Berlin airlift. The effort’s mastermind controls the action from off stage. What readers remember is the incredible ingenuity and endurance of the mass of unnamed men and women who made the airlift succeed.
The Man is a fictional account of a run-of-the-mill senator shocked into rising to the occasion when, through no effort or desire of his own, he becomes America’s first black President. Douglass Dilman’s very ordinariness makes the story memorable and him forgettable: I can picture scenes from the novel vividly, but had to go back to look up the title character’s name.
The Martyred also turns around a character whose personality is less memorable than those of the less pivotal characters: South Korean Army Capt. Lee.
Lee puts his brain power into discovering what happened to a group of South Korean pastors when they were captured by the Communists. The intellectually understandable facts provide no explanation. The pastors’ behaviors arose from fear, love, and faith rather than from facts. Thus their behavior is comprehensible only through sympathy and insight.
If you want a real brain workout, read and compare these three novels.
That will keep you off the streets until the snow melts in Maine.