Allen Drury plunges readers into American politics as it might be played if violence becomes a political tool.
Sometime in the post-LBJ era, Air Force One has crashed, killing an American president on his return to Washington after garnering his party’s nomination.
The Speaker of the House, William Abbott, assumes the presidency until elections can be held. He carries on the policies of his predecessor, Harvey Hudson, keeping American troops in Africa and Panama and retaining Orrin Knox as Secretary of State.
That continuity brings Abbott into direct confrontation with a coalition of extremist groups out to control the presidency by electing Ted Jason, a man they think they can control.
Preserve and Protect is a stronger novel — there’s less author commentary — than the other three novels in Drury’s series.
Readers are left in no doubt as to Drury’s position, but here they have the pleasure of thinking they figured it out themselves.
The characters met in earlier novels seem to have grown more complex, the issues less clear.
The book slips from political novel toward political thriller.
Drury pulls all the threads together skillfully in a shocking — but totally logical — conclusion.
Preserve and Protect by Allen Drury
Doubleday, 1968. 394 pages. 1968 bestseller #6. My grade A-.
© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni