Friday, June 29, 2018

CONVENTION









Convention, Fletcher Knebel and Charles W Bailey II, Harper & Row, 1964, 343 pp
 
 
This political novel was #10 on the 1964 bestseller list. It is a fictional story of what is said to be the 30th Republican National Convention. In real life, the 30th Convention was in 1972 when Richard Nixon was nominated to run for a second term as POTUS.
 
In the novel, the year is not stated. The top two contenders for the nomination are the Governor of California and the Secretary of the Treasury, who was the current (fictional) President's stated choice. The polarizing issue was nuclear weapons. The Treasury Secretary was also the predicted winner but after he makes an unwise statement in the early days of the convention, his lead shrinks to almost nothing. Who will win?

These political novels with fictional politicians make me a bit crazy because I cannot stop trying to make them fit with history. I read an earlier bestseller by these authors (Seven Days in May, 1962), about a fictional attempted military coup written during the first year of the Kennedy administration. I have read Fail-Safe as well as Allen Drury's Advise and Consent. The most recent was The Man by Irving Wallace, read just ten days before I read Convention.

I suppose they are worthwhile reads as examples of what could happen. On the whole, I feel much more comfortable reading actual Presidential biographies, each one of which necessarily includes at least one National Convention.

From Convention I learned more than I knew before about what it is like on the convention floor and what the delegates actually do. But there were also plenty of scenes in smoke-filled rooms and the shenanigans connected with the press.

Knebel and Bailey have been mocked as bad writers but they were both respected political journalists who knew the scene. The writing is fast-paced, the characters are believable rather than cliches, and they know how to build and plot a story. Plus, it is women who save the day!

In any case, I am now finished with the bestseller list for 1964! I will try to write a post soon about my thoughts on the list as a whole and how it reflects life in that year.

10 comments:

  1. Congratulations on completing the reading of the bestseller list for 1964. I'll be interested in your post about the list and the year.

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    1. Thanks! I wondered if a post about the year and list would be welcome so I am heartened by your interest.

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  2. That write-up about your impressions of the year 1964 based on the bestselling books that came out that year will be most welcome, as I have been wondering what it is you conclude about every passing year.

    I like political novels myself, not so much for the believability factor, though I appreciate it enormously when it is apparent, but for the insight they can provide on many political processes both foreign and domestic. I tend to think that there is more than a healthy dose of truth to that genre as well as to the espionage thriller one. ;-)

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    1. Good to know of your interest in a write-up of my impressions. I will post it after the usual end of month posts.
      I do like these political novels a great deal. It is just an annoying thing my mind does while I read them. The authors who write them are clearly well informed. As in this one, I got insight into the Convention process and it was something I had always wondered about. I wish someone would write or had written one about the Electoral College. Do you know of a novel about that institution? I have studied about it but just the facts are a bit dull;-)

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    2. What I know of it comes from taking a Political Science course in college. However, if you get suggestions of books on the topic, please let me know as I would love to read more in-depth about it.

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  3. In addition, some authors can be eerily prescient, which is an added bonus. ;-)

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  4. You had a great June for books. Circe has gotten so much hype. I may have to try the series even though it's not really a genre I love.

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    1. Yes, you could always try Circe and DNF if you don't like it.

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