The Plot: A novel great in its day

The Plot is a novel about a handful of characters trying to recreate their picture of themselves at their best. It’s set against the background of a Paris conference aimed at keeping China from acquiring a nuclear bomb. The Plot: A Novel by Irving Wallace Simon and Schuster, 1967. 828 p. 1967 bestseller #8. My […]

The Ambassador Makes Sense of Vietnam War

The Ambassador is the second and the best of the 1965 bestsellers about America’s war in Vietnam. Unlike Robin Moore, who focuses on soldiers, Morris L. West focuses on the policymakers who set in motion events that ended in body bags. The Ambassador by Morris L. West William Morrow, 1965. 275 pages . 1965 bestseller #9. […]

The Kingdom of Slender Swords Supersizes Suspense

In a classic romance opening, Barbara Fairfax gets her first glimpse of Japan from the deck of an ocean liner. Japan is the land where here parents met, her father died, and where she hopes to escape from highly eligible suitor whom she doesn’t love. As a house guest of the American ambassador’s daughter, Barbara […]

Nothing routine about Time and Time Again

Time and Time Again is primarily character study, but a superbly plotted one, and James Hilton’s totally unpredictable ending is entirely plausible. Charles Anderson, 52, is a British career diplomat. To date, his public life has been respectably dull aside intermittent painful episodes resulting from his father’s descent into dementia. Charles bears the knowledge that […]

Caravans return to Afghan war’s origins

As Americans wait for the end to the Afghan war, James A. Michener’s 1963 bestseller Caravans is a timely once more. The novel is set in 1946. As World War II ends, the American embassy in Kabul is ordered to investigate the disappearance of  Ellen Jaspar Nazrulllah, a Pennsylvania woman recently married to an Afghan […]