Preserve and Protect taut political thriller

Washington DC buildings, 1st edition jacket of Preserve and Protect
First edition cover.

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 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

Capable of Honor takes on the media

In Capable of Honor, Allen Drury picks up his story of Washington politics where A Shade of Difference ended.

Familiar faces from the cast of his two previous whopping political novels are here again, but this time Drury’s focus is the role of media in shaping political opinion.


Capable of Honor by Allen Drury

Doubleday, 1966. 531 pp. 1966 bestseller #4. My grade B+.


Capable of Honor uses all-type dust jacket, red type on black groundDrury’s wrath is turned on Walter Dobrius, nicknamed “Walter Wonderful” by the politicians who despise the columnist’s all-too-successful attempts to sway American voters and world opinion to right-thinking as Walter defines it.

Walter has picked California Governor Ted Jason as the peace candidate American needs as president.

Walter is willing to do whatever it takes to elect Ted and defeat the incumbent president who, with his secretary of state, has ordered American troops into Africa and Panama to protect American interests.

In pursuit of peace, Walter and Ted are happy to accept the support of certain well-organized and violent organizations at the party convention.

Unfortunately, they have no ability to control those supporters.

Drury presents complex characters caught in a bewildering situations.

Although he is vehement in his denunciation of the types of behaviors he considers un-American, Drury has sense enough to not let his rhetoric overwhelm his story.

The novel remains timely even after 50 years.

Thriller built on race relations and foreign policy

Gov. George Wallace attempts to block black students from entering University of Alabama
Wallace at University of Alabama

Allen Drury followed up his blockbuster novel Advise and Consent with A Shade of Difference, which builds on events and characters from that novel.

In the mid-twentieth century, “Terrible Terry,”a Western-educated leader of a British possession, is seeking UN help in getting immediate independent status for his African country.  Terry has the support of the Communist countries as well as the non-aligned and anti-American nations. More important, Terry has the support of the liberal segment of Americans always ready to denounce their nation.

When Terry dramatically escorts a black girl to integrate a white Southern school, he unleashes a violent clash of races and political opponents.

An experienced political reporter, Drury writes with an insider’s knowledge and a propagandist’s aim.

However, he’s also a capable story teller, who never forgets that readers come for the story. His omniscient character descriptions are borne out by the words and actions of those characters.

The most startling aspect of A Shade of Difference is how contemporary the story feels. Representative Cullee Hamilton, caught in the conflict between the races and his own political ambitions is a fictional sixties Barack Obama.

Whatever your political leanings, you will find intrigue and entertainment in the pages of this political thriller.

A Shade of Difference
Allen Drury
Doubleday, 1962
603 pages
1962 bestseller #3
My grade:B+
 
© 2012 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Advise and Consent: Politics, Patriotism, and Platitudes

When the President nominates Robert Leffingwell to be Secretary of State, the Senate has to decide whether the man who would rather “go to Moscow on his knees than be killed by a bomb” is fit for the job in the Sputnik era.

Allen Drury swaddles Advise and Consent in the flag and plays  “Dixie”  in the background as he  shows how the confirmation process affects four senators and the vice president.

Sen. Bob Munson, the majority leader, has reservations but backs the candidate because that’s his job.

Sen. Seabright Cooley has personal and patriotic objections to Leffingwell.

Sen. Brigham Anderson is withholding judgment until after his  subcommittee hearings on the nomination.

Sen. Orrin Knox wants to give Leffinwell a fair hearing, but his own presidential ambitions may hinder that.

VP Harley Hudson is a terrified by the prospect that he could be thrust into the presidency in a heartbeat.

A story with a cast of over 100 characters presents major problems to any storyteller. Drury doesn’t help himself by splitting the novel into five sections — especially since he has just one omniscient narrator.

Drury’s predictable plot and hackeneyed characters make this story forgettable. It’s only remaining interest is its glimpse into the tensions of  Cold War America.

Advise and Consent
By Allen Drury
Doubleday, 1959
616  pages
1959  bestseller # 4
My Grade: B
© 2009 Linda Gorton Aragoni