The Jonathan Yardley piece I posted last night about Washington novels was dismissive of Allen Drury, the popular political novelist of the 1960s. According to Yardley, “The ‘Washington novels’ that find their way to the bestseller lists — books by the likes of David Baldacci and the late Allen Drury — are little more than power-politics soap operas, written in execrable prose.” I haven’t read Drury’s Advise and Consent since I was a teenager, and the prose may well have been poor. But I’m pretty confident that this novel was more than a political soap opera. I wonder whether part of the disdain for the book is down to the fact that the charges of past Communist links on the part of the fictional nominee for Secretary of State turned out to be true in Drury’s novel.
HINDROCKET adds: I re-read Advise and Consent just a few years ago. It’s not Tolstoy, but it’s a very good book, certainly far superior to the average best-seller. I have little doubt that Yardley’s animus against Drury’s book is political. The book’s main heroes are conservatives who block the appointment of an accommodationist Secretary of State. Interestingly, one of the book’s good guys is a young Senator from (I think) Utah who years earlier, while in the Army, had a homosexual experience. This is dredged up by the liberals, who try to blackmail him to vote for the nominee, Leffingwell. This part of the book is pretty gripping and shows surprising foresight, as it anticipates the numerous anti-gay slurs that contemporary liberals have used to intimidate their opponents, as in the Montana Senate election just last year. If you haven’t read Advise and Consent, I recommend it.
DEACON adds: They made a movie out of Advise and Consent, directed by the excellent Otto Preminger and starring Henry Fonda and Charles Laughton. I rented it a few years ago and I recommend it.
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