Preserve and Protect taut political thriller

Preserve and Protect is a logical development  of the political landscapes Allen Drury envisioned in Advise and Consent (1959),  A Shade of Difference (1962),  and Capable of Honor (1966). 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 […]

Airport by Arthur Hailey: Details matter

I read Airport in two big gulps two days ago. Tonight I can scarcely remember the plot or the characters’ names, but the details are still vivid. In Airport, Arthur Hailey weaves together several plots whose characters happen to be in a particular place, just as he did in Hotel. In this case, the scene […]

Christine is fake, not fiction

Alice Cholmondeley’s author’s note to Christine prefaces what Cholmondeley says are letters written to her by her daughter, Christine, who was studying in Germany the summer World War I began. A note saying the publisher chose to alter names of some individuals reinforces the idea that the letters are true. Christine by Alice Cholmondeley¹ ©1917. 1917 […]

The Major an amalgam of familiar plot lines

Larry Gwynne, normally an obedient 10-year-old, plays hooky from school with some other boys one spring day. Challenged to prove himself in a fight, Larry refuses. The other boys say he’s a coward, like this Quaker mother. The Major by Ralph Connor 1918 bestseller #7. Project Gutenberg ebook #3249. My grade: C. From that beginning, […]

The Jungle is ferocious fiction

Anyone who could call Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle entertainment is morally bankrupt. The novel, which rocked America in 1906, is exposé, propaganda, political theater. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair Viking, 1905. 343 p. 1906 bestseller #6. My grade B-. Corrupt Chicago politicians. Salmonella-tainted food. Sub-prime mortgages. Water supplies poisoned by industrial waste. Sinclair exposed them all. […]

It Can’t Happen Here: Timely and Terrifying

In 1935, Europe was preparing for war against the Jews and Socialists and anybody else who didn’t care to knuckle under to the likes of Hitler and Mussolini. Watching Europe fall into the clutches of dictators, Sinclair Lewis pondered how a dictator could come to power in America. It Can’t Happen Here: A Novel by […]

The Clansman: Racisim writ large, romance writ small

In his forward to The Clansman, Thomas Dixon says his novel shows how the Klu Klux Klan “against overwhelming odds…saved the life of a people.” Readers can judge that for themselves. The Clansman by Thomas Dixon An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan. Illus.with scenes from photo-play The Birth of a Nation. Grossett & […]