1968 bestselling novels not gone, but largely forgotten

The bestsellers of 1968 are notable for being forgettable.

In some cases, the title elicits an “Oh, yeah, I think I read that,” but the stories behind the titles shriveled into the ether within weeks after I finished reading them.

The few that rise above placebo level are Preserve and Protect by Allen Drury, The Tower of Babel by Morris L. West, and Myra Breckenridge by Gore Vidal.

Preserve and Protect

Preserve and Protect is the last of Allen Drury’s set of six political novels following a group of Washington characters through a series of political crises., the earliest being, Advise and Consent (1959), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1960;  A Shade of Difference (1962); and  Capable of Honor (1966).

Capable of Honor, as you know, ends in a cliffhanger.

Drury’s next two novels provided readers with alternative finales.

Come Nineveh, Come Tyre (1973) became a bestseller like the earlier four novels.

The last of the six novels, The Promise of Joy (1975) was the only one of the set that didn’t become a bestseller.

Tower of Babel

West’s Tower of Babel is set just before the outbreak of the Six Day War 51 years ago this past June. The novel delivers its thrills through a tale of spies and espionage.

West didn’t give the spies enough personality to make the thriller part of the story memorable. All that lingers is a bleak sense of military force being used as a political tools.

Myra Breckenridge

Vidal’s Myra Breckenridge is satirical and Myra thoroughly unpleasant. The novel is remembered today for breaking the social taboos around discussions of sex and transgender issues in general.

The story itself is readily forgotten — which may be the best thing to be said for it 51 years after its initial publication.


Our look at bestsellers of 1969 start August 5.

© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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