Politically astute and topical, this presidential drama loses momentum in a convoluted plot.


In this complex political thriller, controversy surrounds a new American president’s legitimacy. 

Democrat Herbert Atkinsen wins the presidential popular vote in his bid for election but falls short of the electoral votes necessary to clinch the win. As a result, a rare contingency vote is called, the first since 1825, in which the House of Representatives casts the deciding votes to determine the next president, while the Senate selects a vice president. Atkinsen prevails, as does his Republican running mate, George Granger. However, following the death of his wife, Atkinsen has suffered from serious health problems that he believes will prevent him from completely fulfilling the position’s considerable obligations. His chief of staff, Steve Wagner, comes up with a plan: Atkinsen will swear into office and quickly resign, and the order of constitutional succession will anoint Granger president. This denies Republican Sen. John Robinson, an extremist, any chance of assuming the Oval Office and neutralizes the corrupt Democrat speaker of the House, Bob Allcott. Wagner was able to secure Allcott’s cooperation by threatening a criminal probe into his connection to Cody Manville, a corrupt power broker—the two may have coerced electors to vote their way—and Manville is suspected of murder. However, Granger signs a series of aggressive executive orders, the last of which establishes sweeping fiscal reforms, inspiring the unabashed ire of his political opponents, including Allcott, who demand an impeachment trial for abuses of power. Gorman (Patriotic Gamble, 2012, etc.) displays an astonishingly fertile imagination, conjuring a swamp of political malfeasance impressive even by today’s grim standards. Also, his knowledge of American government, particularly the constitutional law that restrains the presidency, is impressively vast. The plot, however, while briskly paced, is forbiddingly labyrinthine. Also, the main characters remain frustratingly nebulous, never fully developed beyond their political personas. Finally, the writing, especially the dialogue, lacks the edge the plot delivers (“ ‘Wow!’ Cam Tucker exclaimed. ‘Now I understand why politics is called a blood sport’ ”).

Politically astute and topical, this presidential drama loses momentum in a convoluted plot.  

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-365-16307-4

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2017

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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