Exchanging fact for fiction and brother Bernard for newsman Koppel, Kalb (Kissinger, 1974) again focuses in tight on a...



Exchanging fact for fiction and brother Bernard for newsman Koppel, Kalb (Kissinger, 1974) again focuses in tight on a shuttling Secretary of State, now calling him Felix Vandenberg but allowing him to resemble secretive, quippy Henry the K. in more than a few particulars. Under the badgering scrutiny of reporters like go-getter Darius Kane of NNS, Vandenberg is trying for that Big Meeting of Minds: Israel, the Arab states, and Palestinian Safat's ""OLPP."" And when the OLPP kidnaps Mrs. V. in Jordan, it's really an overture--an invitation to a super-secret meeting (in Jerusalem!) between the Secretary and a smuggled-in Safat. The astonishingly successful meeting isn't hush-hush enough, however; the room is bugged, the leaked tape is doctored to suggest a US sell-out of Israel, and Vandenberg is saved from total disgrace only because Darius, tracking Palestinian connections in Switzerland, exposes the tape hoax. But, as negotations progress, an even more peace-shattering secret lurks (the penetration of OLPP by Soviet and Israeli agents), and there the ""national interest"" and the free-press interest diverge, leading to the traditional showdown: lone-newsman vs. The Establishment. For all its basic intelligence and insider details--the mechanics of TV newsbreaking are far more vividly convincing than the Behind-Closed-Doors confabs--this is a lifeless, styleless fabrication, plodding when it parallels the headlines and strained when it springs surprises. Neither beleaguered Felix the V. nor glorified Darius the K. stretch beyond stick-figuredom, not even when the former screams ""Goddamn this fucking job!"" or when the latter romances a ballsy government flunkette who says: "". . . until you suggested where to shove my walkie-talkie, I really didn't ever want to get involved again."" Readers without a Middle-Eastern predisposition will not be drawn in; those with will probably want to get their Kalb and Koppel reports from the Nightly News, not from this juiceless novel.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1977


Page Count: -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1977

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