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 […]

Egos Are Deadly in The Looking Glass War

John Le Carré’s The Looking Glass War is a tale of Cold War espionage undertaken by a World War II military spy agency. Le Carré focuses on what makes the characters tick rather than in what they blow up. The Looking Glass War by John Le Carré [David John Moore Cornwell] Coward-McCann, 1965. 320 pages. 1965 bestseller […]

Armageddon Reveals the Price of Building Peace

Armageddon is a sprawling novel set as World War II ends and the Soviets move to turn Europe into Communist satellites. The themes Leon Uris raises are as familiar as today’s news, but easier to examine with a degree of objectivity in a 75-year-old setting. War-weary Americans want to pull out of Germany and let […]

Where Kim’s Concerned, Viewing Beats Reading

Rudyard Kipling’s Kim is a tale of espionage, intrigue, and duplicity that would make a Tom Clancy novel look sissified—assuming anyone in this century is willing to wade through Kipling’s prose, which reeks of his Victorian-era education. Kim is the orphan son of an Irish soldier stationed in India. Left under the nominal care of […]

Cold War thriller packs contemporary message

During a military exercise, American bombers armed with nuclear weapons streak off past the fail-safe point, headed for Moscow. Watching blips on the air command’s radar screen blink are a congressman and a manufacturer whose equipment went into the complex system intended to make the nuclear deployment program accident-proof. All hope fervently that the radar […]

Dr. Zhivago Died with Cold War

Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago hit bookshelves in 1958 when American fear of Communists could be measured in home bomb shelters and elementary school air raid drills. The novel became a bestseller and inspired a movie whose title song dominated the air waves. I vaguely recall the movie as a long series of photographs of snow […]