Before House of Cards, before The West Wing, there was Allen Drury's Advise and Consent, a masterpiece of fiction considered by many to be the greatest political novel ever written.
Originally published in 1959, Drury's massive epic spent over 120 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, won a Pulitzer Prize, and was adapted into a successful 1962 film starring Henry Fonda. But, due to entanglements with the author's estate, Advise and Consent--along with Drury's entire library of political and historical fiction--was out of print for nearly fifteen years. It ranked high on last year's list of the Top 100 Most Searched for Out of Print Books.
Mid-sized publisher WordFire Press has re-issued a new eBook and trade paperback edition of Advise and Consent, which includes new appendices, never-before-published essays about the book written by Drury himself, as well as remembrances by Kenneth and Kevin Killiany, his heirs and literary executors. WordFire also just released A Shade of Difference--Drury's first sequel to Advise and Consent--along with two of his standalone political thrillers, Decision and Mark Coffin, U.S.S. The rest of the Advise and Consent series will be reissued throughout the 2014 campaign and election season.
In his day, Allen Drury was considered a staunch conservative writer with somewhat controversial views, particularly wary of the ambitions of the Soviet Union. Today's conservative readers will still champion his novels, while modern liberals alienated by current extreme conservative politics will see an altogether different brand of conservatism.
Drury's stories are detailed and compelling portraits of the machinery of government as relevant today as when they were first published. Advise and Consent describes the confirmation process of a prominent liberal to become Secretary of State and the dirty politics and treachery used on both sides to meddle with the process. Sounds just like today's headlines...
The newly released sequel, A Shade of Difference, is centered around the United Nations rather than the Senate, showcasing the political games played by other countries trying to manipulate the U.S., an ambitious representative from a fledgling African nation trying to spark racial tensions in the US to increase the chances of his own country gaining independence from Great Britain, while another ambassador plays dark diplomatic politics to embarrass the U.S. before the world.
International bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson, the publisher of WordFire Press, acquired the rights to Drury's entire library after he personally intervened and helped with the literary estate.
Drury's works provide detailed insight into the workings of the Washington political machine, as well as tell compelling stories. As the campaigns heat up during the end of the 2014 election season, as the mudslinging and manipulation gets even more frenetic, it's a good reminder to read novels that show politics is still the same as always.