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A Thing of State: A Novel

A Thing of State: A Novel

by Allen Drury

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his 13th novel about the inner machinations of Washington, Drury, whose Advise and Consent won a Pulitzer, conjurs up a believable worst-case scenario about the consequences of our failure to bring the Gulf War to a satisfactory end. By 1999, Sidi bin Sidi bin Sidi, the power-crazed Middle Eastern dictator of fictional Greater Lolm, has managed to acquire several atomic bombs and is blackmailing the free world, demanding dominion over oil-rich neighbor Lesser Lolm. Confronted with possible global (and personal) disaster, the self-centered U.S. president shrewdly and sinisterly sees the threat as an opportunity to reestablish his popularity and ensure reelection. So by default, Secretary of State Ray Shepard, a patriotic career diplomat, is faced with the dilemma of saving the country-and the world. With a cast of nicely fleshed-out stereotypes from the executive and legislative branches and the media, and with a roll call of world powers along embassy row and at the U.N., Drury provides an intriguing and gossipy insider's reminder of the ever-present atomic predicament. Despite an overly expository beginning and prose that occasionally resembles a jungle thicket, the narrative quickly gathers pace and sweeps readers along toward a chilling conclusion. (Sept.)
Gilbert Taylor
The crisis behind Drury's didactic purpose--condemning American vacillation in foreign affairs--erupts in a fictional Arab country. Poverty-stricken Greater Lolomecovets its oil-rich neighbor, Lesser Lolome; and sadistic ruler "Seedy" Sidi bin Sidi bin Sidi has a few atomic bombs with which to enforce his ambition to unify the two states. Scene shift to Washington: in favor of caving in stands the president, while the secretary of state wants to take a stand against international brigandage. In the battle over policy, each official scrambles to have his spin on the course America should take published in the media, and the president ultimately pulls off a bizarre public relations stunt that gives Sidi everything he wants. That buildup to a higher cynicism achieves Drury's intent of decrying America's fecklessness about using power in recent years, but as to a signal achievement in the political thriller field, this novel is too much a message to add much to the medium. Yet, the author's reputation from "Advise and Consent" (1960) could tap into many readers for this novel.

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6.49(w) x 9.59(h) x 1.26(d)

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