IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST by Marvin & Ted Koppel Kalb


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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. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Simon & Schuster