Email this review


Drury's projected Washington quartet (brass, as in shekels) is capable of making the bestseller list. It follows the pattern of the first and biggest, Advise & Consent, employing some of the same characters and playing to the sense of reader superiority inherent in being able to seize a clue as big as a billboard and figure out just which prominent statesman, politico or columnist inspired the portrait. The characters are unhesitatingly articulate in dialogue and their thoughts are generously recorded after most exchanges. This time, the chief target is Mr. Drury's old racket, the Washington reporter, and it is a fictional survey of the effect of communications on policy and the electorate. The man is Walter Dobius and he is first among the aristocracy of columnist/commentators, a skull-busting intelligence, an elephantine ego, an arrogant assumption that the world awaits his word and a sour spite for anybody who questions his power. Harley M. Hudson, who moved up to the Presidency in the second installment (A Shade of Difference, 1962) takes him too lightly to suit Walter and Orrin Knox, you may recall, once laughed in his face. Walter broods on this like a chicken with one, sterile egg; both men are concerned about the next Presidential nomination and Walter hasn't made up his mind whom he'll tell his vast newspaper readership to vote for. Governor Jason of California and his powerhouse sister, the wife of the Panamanian Ambassador (both leftovers from the last book) spend a lot of time, effort and blandishment on Walter to get him to come out for the Gov. This amuses and flatters Walter and always spurs him to windy speeches about his own integrity. And so it goes, with a huge cast, from White House to Georgetown bedrooms, to newsrooms to drawing rooms--a clumsy D.C. a clef with a dogged story energy and an established mass readership.

Pub Date: Sept. 2nd, 1966
Publisher: Doubleday