THE KINGMAKER by Malcolm MacDougall


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The man who ran Jerry Ford's losing 1976 media campaign is just about as successful with his first novel. The ""kingmaker"" is Tom Murdoch, who believes that ""politics is 'creativity in search of power.' I provide the creativity."" An American businessman hires Tom on the eve of his latest victory to go to France and manage the campaign of Chibot, a Gaullist heading a new party that means to save France from Communism. Poor Tom must leave his wife Andrea behind (she has to get her budget approved on the New York State Council on the Arts), so it's no surprise when his four-year-old romance with Sally MacLeish, the Time stringer in Paris, blooms anew on his first night overseas. He also discovers that the man he's supporting is a tedious fascist who wears garters and needs image-remodeling in depth. But since Tom is a serf-important ass and adulterer, it's somewhat unsettling to find him striking moral poses--like his ponderous comparisons of the Communist party (which takes its orders and backing from Moscow) with Chibot's party, which is underwritten by a huge donation from American businessmen who want the status quo retained in France. Anyway, the Communist candidate is much more to Tom's heart, a persuasive man with real issues to sell. Would that this novel had something to sell, but it's as hollow as a tub. No clout.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1978
Publisher: Clarkson N. Potter--dist. by Crown