Advise and Consent: Politics, Patriotism, and Platitudes

When the President nominates Robert Leffingwell to be Secretary of State, the Senate has to decide whether the man who would rather “go to Moscow on his knees than be killed by a bomb” is fit for the job in the Sputnik era.

Allen Drury swaddles Advise and Consent in the flag and plays  “Dixie”  in the background as he  shows how the confirmation process affects four senators and the vice president.

Sen. Bob Munson, the majority leader, has reservations but backs the candidate because that’s his job.

Sen. Seabright Cooley has personal and patriotic objections to Leffingwell.

Sen. Brigham Anderson is withholding judgment until after his  subcommittee hearings on the nomination.

Sen. Orrin Knox wants to give Leffinwell a fair hearing, but his own presidential ambitions may hinder that.

VP Harley Hudson is a terrified by the prospect that he could be thrust into the presidency in a heartbeat.

A story with a cast of over 100 characters presents major problems to any storyteller. Drury doesn’t help himself by splitting the novel into five sections — especially since he has just one omniscient narrator.

Drury’s predictable plot and hackeneyed characters make this story forgettable. It’s only remaining interest is its glimpse into the tensions of  Cold War America.

Advise and Consent
By Allen Drury
Doubleday, 1959
616  pages
1959  bestseller # 4
My Grade: B
© 2009 Linda Gorton Aragoni