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The Race

The Race

4.1 24
by Richard North Patterson

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Can an honest man become president? In this timely and provocative novel, a maverick candidate takes on his political enemies and the ruthless machinery of American politics

Corey Grace—a handsome and charismatic Republican senator from Ohio—is plunged by an act of terrorism into a fierce presidential primary battle with the favorite of the


Can an honest man become president? In this timely and provocative novel, a maverick candidate takes on his political enemies and the ruthless machinery of American politics

Corey Grace—a handsome and charismatic Republican senator from Ohio—is plunged by an act of terrorism into a fierce presidential primary battle with the favorite of the party establishment and a magnetic leader of the Christian right. A decorated Gulf War Air Force pilot known for speaking his mind, Grace's reputation for voting his own conscience rather than the party line—together with his growing romance with Lexie Hart, an African-American movie star—has earned him a reputation as a maverick and an iconoclast. But Grace is still haunted by a tragic mistake buried deep in his past, and now his integrity will be put to the test in this most brutal of political contests, in which nothing in his past or present life is off-limits.

Depicting contemporary power politics at its most ruthless, The Race takes on the most incendiary issues in American culture: racism, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, gay rights, and the rise of media monopolies with their own agenda and lust for power. As the pressure of the campaign intensifies, Grace encounters betrayal, excruciating moral choices, and secrets that can destroy lives. Ultimately, the race leads to a deadlocked party convention where Grace must resolve the conflict between his romance with Lexie and his presidential ambitions—and decide just who and what he is willing to sacrifice.

Editorial Reviews

Patrick Anderson
In his audacious new novel, The Race, Patterson presumes to take us inside the battle-in-progress for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. His candidates aren't named Giuliani, Romney, McCain and Thompson, nor are they necessarily modeled on those gentlemen, but they struggle with the same issues of honor and compromise, the same obsessions with gay rights, stem cell research, abortion, evolution and the role of religion in politics, that bedevil the real-life candidates. All this does not make a pretty picture—Republican partisans may be outraged—but it has a certain train-wreck fascination…The Race is wildly melodramatic, even lurid…All the King's Men it is not. And yet it has the virtue of honesty. The kind of hypocrisy and dirty tricks Patterson writes about are commonplace in today's campaigns. Men who know better do prostitute themselves before Bible-thumping political kingpins. Candidates do sell their souls to win primaries—and, if they're lucky, the White House. This unhappy state of affairs is often reported in nonfiction, but it bears repeating. Perhaps a popular novel can take the message to a larger audience and help elevate the political climate. It's pretty to think so.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Sen. Corey Grace is the most charismatic and compassionate conservative Republican to ever run for president. He believes in women's choice, gay rights, gun control and stem cell research. Ordinarily, these would be suicidal platform points, but the other two candidates-a bombastic but honorable hard-line evangelist and a loutish Senate majority leader who is backed by a Machiavellian media giant-stand a good chance of splitting the far right vote. Patterson is best-known for his thrillers, but The Raceis long on lore and shy on suspense. It's also filled with all-too-familiar political events and characters that are almost parodies of people living or dead. Grace has several well-written speeches that Michael Boatman delivers with the wise and wry voice of reason. Boatman also captures the dramatic baritone of the evangelist; the smarmy and nasal senator; and the evil media baron who sounds a bit Australian. Boatman does a fair job of imitating the voices of real-life characters but saves his best mimicry for a rancorous radio pundit whom Patterson has given a fictional name. Simultaneous release with the Holt hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 27). (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

Patterson has produced a thoughtful and provocative look at American politics in this novel, and it is even more timely because of the 2008 Presidential election. He focuses on one element of contemporary politics that has many people concerned: the growing influence of evangelical Christians in the political process. It's not so much a question of whether God should be a part of a politician's life but whether one person's personal definition of "God" is more important than someone else's. Corey Grace, the moderate, charismatic, moral center of this story, is running for President on the Republican ticket. His opponents include an evangelist who bases every decision on biblical teachings and who accuses anyone who is not a bornagain Christian of being unpatriotic and satanically motivated. Corey doesn't help the matter much by carrying on a clandestine affair with a liberal African American actress, but as the election nears, the attacks against him become more personal and more destructive. Actor Michael Boatman (Spin City; CSI: Miami) is an excellent reader who infuses the narrative with the power it deserves. Listeners will relish the often disturbing look at modern American politics that Patterson skillfully delivers. Highly recommended. [Macmillan Audio also has versions of The Raceavailable: 6 CDs. abridged. 7 hrs. 2007. [ISBN 978-1-4272-0183-6. $29.95; 11 CDs. unabridged. 13½ hrs. 2007. ISBN 978-1-4272-0181-2. $39.95.—Ed.]—Joseph L. Carlson, Allan Hancock Coll., Lompoc, CA

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Kirkus Reviews
Patterson (Exile, 2007, etc.), whose Kerry Concannon trilogy already showed one fictional paragon's run for President (No Safe Place, 1998), trots out another perfect candidate just in time for the 2008 election cycle. Sen. Corey Grace (R, Ohio), an authentic war hero with Presidential hankerings, is the perfect alternative to Senate Majority Leader Rob Marotta (R, Penn.), a calculating hack, and televangelist Bob Christy, founder of Christian Commitment, who's convinced the planet's headed toward a Rapture that certainly won't include agnostics, gays or Democrats. Slowly, circumspectly, Corey tests the waters, and the voters like him. That's no surprise, since he always speaks articulately and judiciously, often several paragraphs at a clip. As his campaign trudges through Iowa and New Hampshire to South Carolina, a series of flashbacks reveal the skeletons in Corey's closet-the error in judgment that killed his navigator in Iraq and won Corey a medal, his dead brother's closeted homosexuality, his romance with African-American actress Lexie Hart-but while all these revelations threaten Corey's election, none tarnish his honor. The road to the nomination is arduous, but whenever Corey gets into real trouble, he's rescued by his iron principles or (twice, amusingly and unforgivably) by providential terrorist attacks that give him a chance to show his mettle. The race, which gives Corey many chances to ventilate his mom-and-apple-pie stances on abortion, birth control, school prayer and godless liberals, is as exciting as Patterson's ingenuity and melodramatic flair can make it. The characters, however, are strikingly less original. Even the most casual Monday-morning political analystswill have no trouble seeing through the shamelessly thin fig leaves meant to cover figures based on Colin Powell, Karl Rove, Pat Robertson, Rupert Murdoch, Rick Santorum and Jim McGreevey. A satisfyingly self-righteous update of Advise and Consent that reminds you how little American political fiction has changed over the past 50 years. $300,000 ad/promo
From the Publisher

“An electrifying page-turner.” —Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Absorbing and suspenseful.” —Publishers Weekly


“Required reading.” —New York Post

“With verve, intelligence, passion and humanity, Patterson tells an important story--and one that may find a place with Advise and Consent and Seven Days in May on the shelf of honored political thrillers.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Absorbing…timely…a gripping read.” —Booklist

“Will get your blood boiling…” —Grand Rapid Press

“A timely, fast-paced political yarn....Highly recommended.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“A slick new entertainment…Frank Capra idealism meets Karl Rove reality.” —Entertainment Weekly

Exile is his best novel yet."

"Exile is an astonishing book, a hugely entertaining human drama that also offers remarkable insight into the lethal conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Richard North Patterson has outdone himself
The Washington Post

Richard North Patterson is a terrific novelist.

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In the timeless dark of his captivity, before the president made him a hero for the careless act that had cost a friend his life, Captain Corey Grace distracted himself from guilt and the pain of torture by recalling why he had wished to fly: to escape from darkness to light.
His earliest memories were of the metaphoric prison of his parents’ joyless house: the way his father’s mute and drunken rage turned inward on itself; his mother’s tight-lipped repression of her own misery, as clenched as her coiled hair. Even the Ohio town they lived in, Lake City, felt cramped—not just the near-identical shotgun houses and postage-stamp lawns, but the monochromatic lives of those who never seemed to leave, the gossip one could never erase, the pointless bigotry against minorities no one had ever met. Only in captivity, when shame and belated charity eroded his contempt for his family and his past, did Corey see this pitiless lens as yet another reflection of his vanity.
You’re special, they had always told him: teachers, coaches, ministers—even, in their crabbed ways, Corey’s own mother and father. From his early youth, good looks had been among his many gifts: the ready smile and dark brown eyes—perceptive, alert, and faintly amused—strong but regular features, arrayed in pleasing proportion to one another. He excelled in school; became captain of three sports teams; grew articulate and quick-witted in a way he could not trace to either parent; learned to conceal his alienation with an easy charm that made girls want him and other boys want to be like him. His parents were strangers—not just to Corey, but to each other.
“I wonder who you’ll marry,” his mother had mused aloud on the night of his senior prom.
Needlessly fussing over his tuxedo tie—as open a gesture of maternal fondness as she could muster—Nettie Grace looked up into his face. With an instinctive fear that, somehow, this life would ensnare him, Corey realized that his mother still wished to imagine him marrying someone from Lake City—maybe Kathy Wilkes, the bubbly cheerleader who was his prom date. Perhaps his mother spoke from sentiment, Corey thought; perhaps it was only fear that he would leave their life behind. Even his parents’ pride in him seemed sullied by their own resentments.
Gazing into his mother’s eyes, he answered softly, “No one from here.”
Nettie Grace let go of his bow tie.
Slowly, Corey looked around the tiny living room, as if at a place he would never see again. His father stared at the television, a beer bottle clutched in hands knotted from his work as a plumber. In the corner, Corey’s five-year-old brother, Clay—whose very existence conjured images Corey could scarcely entertain—gazed up at Corey with a child’s admiration. Looking at this slight boy’s tousled brown hair and innocent blue eyes, Corey felt the empathy he wished he could summon for his parents. He already sensed that Clay—who, to his father’s evident satisfaction, did not seem all that special—would never escape their family.
Impulsively, Corey scooped Clay up in his arms, tossing him in the air before bringing the boy’s face close to his. Clay wrapped his arms around Corey’s neck.
“I love you, Corey,” he heard his little brother declare.
For a moment, Corey held Clay tight; then he lifted him aloft again, wondering why his own smile did not come quite so easily. “Yeah,” he told his brother. “I love you, too. Even though you’re short.”
Putting Clay down, Corey kissed him on the forehead, and left without another word to anyone.
He was leaving them all behind—his mother and father; the friends who thought they knew him; the prom date who would offer to sleep with him in hope that this moment, the apex of her youthful imaginings, was a beginning and not the end; even his kid brother. And he had known this ever since Coach Jackson had named him starting quarterback. “You’re slow,” the coach had told him laconically. “And your arm’s no better than average. But you’re smart, and you don’t rattle. Most of all, you’re not just a leader—you’re a born leader.”
This, Corey realized, was a new thought. Curious, he asked, “What’s the difference?”
“You never look back to see who’s following you.” The coach cocked his head, as though studying Corey from a different angle. “Ever think about one of the academies? West Point, maybe.”
Mulling this, Corey walked home on a brisk fall day. Then he looked up and saw a jet plane soaring into endless space and light, its only mark a trail of vapor. No, Corey thought, not West Point.
His appointment to the Air Force Academy came as easily as his moment of departure. He left his parents and brother at the airport after constricted hugs and awkward silences, troubled only by how small and solitary Clay suddenly appeared to him.
It was the first time Corey Grace had ever flown. The Academy, too, came easily, as did flight school and promotion. By the time of the Gulf War, Captain Corey Grace was stationed in Saudi Arabia, restlessly awaiting the ultimate test of his abilities: to engage Iraqi pilots at supersonic speeds with such skill that he would kill without being killed.
To Corey, his F-15 was an extension of his gifts, a perfectly crafted machine with the technology in its sinews ready to do his every bidding. The only other human variable was his navigator.
Joe Fitts was a black man from Birmingham, Alabama. When Corey first met him he almost laughed in dismay—Joe’s toothy smile and jug ears made him look, in Corey’s reluctant but uncharitable estimate, like a guileless and even comic figure, and his loose-limbed gait suggested that he was held together by rubber bands. But, for Corey, their first flight transformed his navigator’s appearance.
Joe’s mind was as keen as his eyes: he seemed to know everything there was to know about his job—and Corey’s. A few more flights together confirmed Corey’s sense of a man whose judgment was as close to perfect as mortals could achieve; a few sessions at the bar built for thirsty officers suggested that Joe was a complicated but altogether stellar human being. And that Joe was the first black man Corey had known well confronted him with a basic truth: that whatever Corey thought of his youth in Lake City, he had been, in one very basic sense, privileged.
Joe’s father was a janitor, his mother a seamstress, and their lives were molded by a time and place where the insane logic of bigotry skipped no details, right down to separate drinking fountains to keep blacks from sullying whites. Joe’s parents were first allowed to vote in 1965, the year after he was born, filled with foreboding that this reckless act might leave their child an orphan. But though they were even more lightly educated than Corey’s parents, Joe’s pride in his father and mother was as deep as his love—they had wrung from the harsh strictures of their lives the fierce determination to give Joe Fitts chances they had only dreamed of. The sole fissure between Joe and his devoutly Baptist parents was one that he concealed from them: except when he was home, Joe never went to church.
“So you’re an atheist?” Corey asked one evening.
Sitting beside Corey at the bar, Joe sipped his Scotch, regarding the question with narrow eyes. “Atheism’s too much trouble,” he answered. “Why put that level of energy into something you can’t know? Anyone who tells you they’re sure that there is a God—or isn’t one—is smoking dope.
“Anyhow, it’s the wrong question. Maybe there is a God, and he’s a terrific guy—or girl, or hermaphrodite, or whatever the fuck people want to believe. I’ve got no objections to that. What pisses me off is when people think believing in a certain God gives them a license to crap on other people, or even kill ’em—Christian or Muslim, it makes no difference.” He turned to Corey. “Ever look at those old pictures of lynchings—upright white folks with their good day’s work hanging from some tree?”
“Notice anything peculiar about them?”
“Yeah. The black guy was dead.” Corey paused, then ventured, “No women?”
“Look again—in high school I made a study of them. What you’ll notice is that a lot of those mobs were dressed in their Sunday best. They were fresh from church, you see.” Joe’s half smile conveyed both wonder and dismay. “I’ve met some true Christians, and I’ve also met some nasty fuckers whose God is surely created in their image. Overall, I’d say the correlation between godliness and goodness is kind of random. Sort of makes you wonder what history would look like if more folks had believed a little less.”
But such moody ruminations did not detract from Joe’s pleasure in the core of his life—a deep pride in a job well done, and an abiding love for his wife and four-year-old son. “You know why I don’t want to die?” Joe admitted over drinks. “Not ’cause I’m afraid that it’s the end—that all I’ll be is roadkill. It’s because of all I’d miss, and all they’d miss about me. It’s bad enough just being stuck with you in this fucking bar.”
“Funny,” Corey said in an astringent tone. “When I’m with you, I don’t miss Janice at all. The mere sound of your voice is like music.”
Joe emitted a rueful laugh. “Yeah, I know. Let me see that picture again.”
Corey laid the picture on the bar, a snapshot of his wife holding Kara. Solemnly contemplating a cake with five candles, his daughter looked taller than the four-year-old Corey had last seen, and Corey detected the first intimation of her mother’s grace and beauty. As for Janice, she looked lovelier than ever; perhaps only Corey saw the rebuke in her unsmiling eyes, or knew that she had her reasons.
“Lookers,” Joe said, “both of them. But it hurts to look at mine sometimes—Janie and Maxwell are the best wife and kid on earth, and I can’t hug or kiss either one of them.” Flashing a crooked grin, Joe added, “Sometimes at night that really hurts.”
Though Corey smiled in appreciation, he felt a certain disquiet and, he admitted, a wholly unearned envy. He still wanted Janice; she seemed to still want him. But, more often than not, when they made love her soul seemed elsewhere. And all too often his daughter seemed a stranger to him, an extension of her mother.
As close as he felt to Joe, Corey chose to speak only of Kara. “I’m gone too much, I guess. Sometimes she barely seems to know me.”
Usually, the mention of kids would prompt Joe to extol the miracle of child development that was Maxwell Fitts—his humor, his quickness, his astounding rhetorical gifts. But Joe was a sensitive man. With the shrewd gaze that sometimes made him seem preternaturally old, he quietly answered, “It’ll come, pal. Time is all you need.” He paused, then added with a certain twitchiness, “I’m tired of waiting here for this goddamned war to happen. High time they gave us the order to dust these turkeys so we can get back to the folks we love.”
Beneath the words, Corey detected an unspoken fear. “No sweat,” he assured his navigator. “Once this starts, you’ll be hugging Janie quicker than it takes us to down the next three Scotches.”
Solemnly, the two friends drank to that. The Gulf War lasted little more than a month. For Corey Grace and Joe Fitts, all but the last day was a breeze.
The two men functioned seamlessly. Without compunction, Corey shot down three Iraqi planes, affirming that he loved the thrill of aerial combat. And when the head of the Iraqi air force tried to escape to Iran in a Russian-made MiG, it seemed right that Corey and Joe got the orders to shoot him down. The only trick was catching General Hussein Al-Malik before he reached Iranian airspace.
They rocketed through an electric blue sky at Mach 1.1, so fast that there was no sensation of speed. The tension lay in the tasks they had to juggle in split seconds—checking the radar; listening to the AWACS report how much closer Al-Malik was to the border; monitoring how much fuel they had burned. The balance of those factors could be a matter of life and death. The mighty jet burned thousands of pounds of fuel in a minute: once all that remained was 7,500 pounds—“bingo fuel”—their choice would be to go home or crash in the desert.
The two men were in a cocoon surrounded by endless blue sky, divorced from time and space. Though they could not see the Iraqi’s MiG, they were nearly as close to his jet, the AWACS told him, as it was to the Iranian border.
“We’re going to get this bastard,” Corey said.
Joe watched the fuel gauge. “Twelve thousand pounds,” he reported calmly. “We’ve got maybe four minutes.”
Al-Malik was three minutes from Iranian airspace. “Time enough,” Corey answered.
Moments passed with no Iraqi in sight. “Ten thousand pounds,” Joe said more tautly. “We’re burning fuel way faster than we should.”
Corey shook his head. “The gauge has gotta be messed up.”
“Maybe. But I think there’s a fuel leak, Corey.”
Corey felt his muscles strain, as though willing their plane to go faster than it could. “We’ll get him,” he repeated.
Suddenly, a speeding gray sliver glinted in the sun: Al-Malik, seconds from Iranian airspace. No longer calm, Joe called out, “We’re at bingo fuel—time to turn around.”
Corey kept going. “Ten seconds.”
“Come on, man,” Joe said tightly.
Corey counted down from ten, then pushed the button on their radar-guided missile.
In a split second the sliver was replaced by an enormous explosion, and General Al-Malik turned to particles of humanity above the Iranian border.
Corey spun the plane around.
It was a minute before Joe spoke again. “Four thousand pounds,” he said softly. “For sure it’s a leak. We’re going to have to bail.”
Corey grimaced. But there was no time for regrets. “You first,” he ordered.
The cockpit opened, and Joe was gone.
Seconds later Corey bailed from the jet, plummeting headlong in a crazy free fall before the chute deployed. The parachute opened, catching air in its billows and slowing Corey’s fall to a still-precipitous descent. Beneath him jagged rocks grew larger at daunting speed.
Corey jerked the wires. Too late, he realized. His feet hit rock, and then his right shoulder landed with a sickening crunch, shooting a jolt of nausea through his body. When his head hit rock, Corey blacked out.
He regained consciousness in a daze. Blinking, he saw that he was surrounded by a ragged contingent of Iraqi soldiers, and that the sun was slanted at the angle of late afternoon. Corey saw no officers—the soldier who stepped forward had a nonmilitary stubble, and his eyes betrayed a fatigue akin to madness.
Corey’s broken shoulder throbbed. The man stood over him, holding a rifle with both hands.
“Speak English?” Corey rasped.
The man did not answer. With an odd detachment, he grasped his rifle by the barrel, raised it over his head, and brought it crashing down on Corey’s left shoulder.
Writhing in pain, Corey asked through gritted teeth, “Where’s my navigator?”
The man held out his right arm, silently pointing. “Suicide,” the Iraqi said in English. “This black man had no courage.”
On a flat rock lay the severed head of Corey’s friend, the sole witness to his fatal error of judgment. The month that followed changed Corey Grace forever.
His captors kept him somewhere underground, in a darkness so profound that he lost any sense of time or place. The only relief from blindness was when they fed or tortured him.
Their technique was primitive but effective: using ropes as a makeshift harness, then hanging him by his broken shoulders until he screamed with pain or passed out from torment and exhaustion. His clothes stank of urine and feces. If Corey could have killed himself, he would have.
At some point one of his faceless tormentors put something, a stool or box, beneath his feet. Later an unseen hand removed the stool and plunged Corey back into agony. The pattern repeated itself, and then again; Corey began to grasp that someone had chosen to perform this secret act of mercy.
But it was not enough. For hours his mind stopped reasoning, and sleeplessness exploded into madness and hallucinations. Desperately, he focused on his wife and daughter, faces in a snapshot imprinted on his brain. “Please,” he mumbled, though whether to God or Janice or Kara he did not know, “I’ll be better . . .”
He began to lose all feeling in his shoulders and arms—and, perhaps, their function. With his last reserves, Corey steeled himself to resist whatever the Iraqis would demand—a taped confession, or information about a weapons system, or some other act of betrayal. Then an even more terrible fear seeped into his consciousness: perhaps his captors wanted nothing more from him than what they were already getting. Deprived of any purpose but survival, Corey felt insanity filling a darkness in which his only sensation was pain, its only relief the dubious act of mercy that was keeping him alive to become subhuman.
Instead, they freed him. The prisoner exchange took place in a blur. His captors were a rogue element of a disintegrating army, Corey learned; the Iraqis who found and freed him offered vague apologies but otherwise told him nothing. His return to America occurred in a twilight of sleep and exhaustion until, at last, he felt a different Corey Grace occupying his shattered body.
The humor revived, but his careless élan was muted by a deep, unsparing self-appraisal. And the bleakest aspect of this honesty involved Joe Fitts.
In a moment of vainglory, he had traded his friend’s life for the chance to kill an Iraqi general. Miserable, he wished he could have those split seconds back, even as he faced another bitter truth: the primal Corey who had survived would not have traded his own life for Joe’s. But the pledge with which Corey tried to salve his conscience—that he would imbue the rest of his life with meaning—struck him as a pathetic, even narcissistic way of seeking redemption for the death of a better man.
He could say this to no one. As Corey convalesced at Walter Reed Hospital, Janice treated him with an unvarying kindness that felt to Corey like an act of will. For Corey’s part, his penance to his wife lay not in professions of love, promises of change, or gratuitous confessions of infidelity, but a new resolve to see her with clarity and compassion. But what he glimpsed in her kept him from speaking of Joe Fitts: the impeccable consideration with which Janice treated him was not informed by love. She could not even speak the word.
Perhaps, Corey thought, time would heal them, just as it might transform the solemn five-year-old who stood by his bedside into a girl who adored her father. But time was the one thing he had too much of: though his arms and shoulders would function adequately, doctors assured him, Captain Corey Grace would never fly again.
Beyond his family, and self-reflection, Corey was a man without a purpose.
Joe Fitts never left him. Corey dictated letters to Joe’s parents, his wife, and even to the five-year-old Maxwell, hoping that, as the boy grew older, Corey’s words would bring his father to life. Each letter, an affectionate accounting of Joe and of his stories of their family, was as comprehensive as Corey could make it in all but one respect: the nature of Joe’s death, and the reason for it. “All of you,” he wrote, “helped make Joe the happiest person I ever expect to know.”
Corey revealed his secret to no one. He wondered if that meant there was no one to say it to; or that the permutations of Joe’s death were too profound to speak; or that he was simply afraid for anyone to know the truth. Life had given Corey a pass he could no longer give himself—and, it turned out, life kept on doing so.
The president gave him a medal. There was also a medal for Joe, of course.
Joe’s parents came to the White House with Janie and Maxwell. When Janie met Corey, she embraced him fiercely, as though to reclaim some part of her husband. Gazing up at him, Janie’s eyes were moist. “Joe loved you, you know.”
Corey tried to smile. “And he loved you more than life. He talked about both of you so much that it was like I was living in your home.” He glanced over at Maxwell and saw the boy holding his grandmother’s hand—the only child of her only child. “Will he be all right?”
Pensive, Janie considered her son. “In time, I think—there’s a lot of love in his life. Every night I read your letter to him.” Facing Corey, she added quietly, “That was a kind thing you did for Maxwell, giving him a father who was both a hero and a man. Though the world of a five-year-old’s a funny place: right now the hero is more important than the man. When he leaves here wearing Joe’s medal, he may believe for a time that was worth the trade.”
At this moment, and for every moment until the ceremony was over, Corey wished himself off the face of the earth.
Instead, he kissed Janie Fitts on the forehead and, despite the pain in his shoulders, scooped Maxwell up in his arms. Then, for once, Corey tried to take refuge in his family.
The three adults had come—his wife, mother, and father. And Clay was there, a slim, eager boy of fifteen whose reticence in their parents’ presence was outshone by his worship of Corey and his wonder at finding himself in the White House. As the Grace family clustered together in the Map Room, Clay showed an instinctive touch with Kara, eliciting the smiles she seldom granted her father. But the others, Janice and Corey’s parents, milled about like strangers awaiting a train that had somehow been delayed.
When the president appeared, he was accompanied by General Cortland Lane, the first African-American to become air force chief of staff.
A lanky patrician who was himself a decorated flier, the president was both gracious and very human. But Corey was just as taken with General Lane. His unmistakable air of command was leavened by a gaze that was penetrating but warm, and his understated manner seemed less military than spiritual—reflecting, perhaps, Lane’s reputation for a religious devotion as deep as it was unostentatious. Whatever its elements, Lane’s force of character drew Corey to him with a swiftness that was rare.
Drawing Corey aside, Lane congratulated him, speaking in a soft voice that was almost intimate. “I’m sorry about your injuries. And about Captain Fitts.”
“So am I,” Corey answered. “More about Joe. Sort of makes you wonder if getting Al-Malik was worth it.”
Lane gave him a long look. “Never stop wondering. It’s the cost of being human.” Pausing, he added quietly, “A fuel leak, the report said.”
“Yes, sir.”
“You’re lucky to be alive.” Touching Corey’s elbow, he said, “I should spend time with Joe’s family—”
“Sir,” Corey said impulsively, “there’s something I need to tell you.”
Lane nodded, watching Corey’s eyes. “What is it, Captain?”
“I’m no hero. I was like some idiot kid who had to win a video game.” Corey paused. “That fuel leak—Joe saw it before I shot down Al-Malik. He wanted me to turn around.”
Lane showed no surprise. “I’d guessed as much,” he said quietly. “But what do you think I should do with that fact? Or, more important, what would you like to do with it?”
Corey shook his head. “I don’t know.”
“Then let me suggest what you should do—and not do. What you should do is accept this medal, and then pay Joe Fitts as gracious a tribute as you can muster.” Glancing toward Maxwell Fitts, Lane’s voice was quieter yet. “And what you should not do is force his family to swap a hero for a bitter realization.
“You made a judgment in split seconds—that’s what we ask pilots to do in war. Then we ask you to live with that. But no one else can tell you how.”
Briefly, the general rested a hand on Corey’s shoulder, and then turned to greet Joe’s family. Opening the ceremony, the president spoke with genuine appreciation, commemorating Joe, lauding Corey, and emphasizing their country’s gratitude. When it was Corey’s turn to speak, he gathered himself, and then expressed his thanks to the president, the military, and the parents, wife, and daughter to whom he had returned.
“I’m lucky for many reasons,” he concluded simply. “But I was luckiest of all to know Joe Fitts—not just to have seen his courage, but to have felt the depth of his appreciation for the sacrifice of his mother and father, and for the gift of Janie and Maxwell.” Turning to Joe’s family, he said, “All of you made him the man that all of us will always love: a man who personifies all that makes our country—whatever its imperfections—worth loving.”
Afterward, shrewdly eyeing Corey, the president murmured, “You may have a future in my business, Corey. You could even wind up living here.”
Later, in the suite the air force had reserved for them, Corey repeated this to Janice. “Generous,” he concluded. “And preposterous.”
For a moment, she regarded him in silence. “Is it? I was watching
you, too.”
“It was all a blur, Janice. I’m not sure what you mean.”
She gave him the faintest of smiles. “That’s it, Corey. You don’t ever appear to know, even when I suspect you do. Other people see you as someone who just is.”
Corey clasped her shoulders, looking down at her intently. “What I care about is how you see me. I’m not the same, Janice. And one important difference is that I value you the way I always should have.”
Janice’s smile vanished. “Me?” she asked. “Or just the idea of me?”
Corey could not answer.
That night they made love slowly, as though trying to draw feeling from their every touch. Afterward, lying in the dark, Janice said quietly, “I can feel it coming, Corey. They’re going to give you something else to care about.”
Within a month, a delegation of Republicans came to ask whether Corey Grace, the hero, had any interest in running for the Senate from his home state of Ohio. Copyright © 2007 by Richard North Patterson. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Richard North Patterson is the author of In The Name Of Honor, Eclipse, The Spire, Exile, The Race, Degree Of Guilt, Eyes Of A Child, Silent Witness, and many other bestselling and critically acclaimed novels. Formerly a trial lawyer, he was the SEC liaison to the Watergate special prosecutor and has served on the boards of several Washington advocacy groups. He lives in Martha's Vineyard, San Francisco, and Cabo San Lucas with his wife, Dr. Nancy Clair.
Richard North Patterson is the author of In The Name Of Honor, Eclipse, The Spire, Exile, The Race, Degree Of Guilt, Eyes Of A Child, Silent Witness, and many other bestselling and critically acclaimed novels. Formerly a trial lawyer, he was the SEC liaison to the Watergate special prosecutor, the assistant attorney general for the state of Ohio, and has served on the boards of several Washington advocacy groups. In 1993, he retired from his law practice to devote himself to writing. His first novel, The Lasko Tangent, was the winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Novel in 1980. He is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and Case Western Reserve University School of Law, and is a recipient of their President's Award for Distinguished Alumni. He lives in Martha's Vineyard, San Francisco, and Cabo San Lucas with his wife, Dr. Nancy Clair. "Richard North Patterson is a terrific novelist."-The Washington Post

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The Race 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Bobpear More than 1 year ago
I was pleasantly surprised - it was a good read. I enjoyed the characters and the plot was interesting. It was nice to have a plot where two characters who had diverse political worked to accomplish their objectives in a positive manner instead of attempting to get ahead by attacking the other... I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys politics and political intrigue.
Mambisa More than 1 year ago
Read it during the 2008 election and found it highly entertaining. Perhaps best suited for folks who are somewhat politically-minded.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Patterson is one of my favorite authors, and his Protect and Defend is one of my favorite books. It was a superb story of a president and a Supreme Court nominee, in which the subject of abortion and a trial involving that issue are background. The characters are principal, and the issue is sceondary. In The Race, a senator aspires to be his party's preidential nominee. The story itself, about the senator and his budding romance with a famous actress, is secondary to the political maneuvering of all of the characters in the book. As interesting and well written as the story was, the political details and machinations detracted from the otherwise excellent book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After 8 years of college, I thought there would be few things I couldn't understand. Boy was I wrong. The greediness, backstabbing, lying, fabricating and hatefulness of people goes a long way in a novel such as this one. The main plot line and main characters were easy to like and understand, but the subplots were complicated and it seemed like each chapter brought in more strange characters. Richard North Patterson is an excellent author,but the 'Race' seemed to be one of my old textbooks in political science class. I don't think I'm going to vote in the next election, it seems that no candidate is honest and selfless.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
coolbeans25 More than 1 year ago
This book is current, easy to relate to if you follow the political climate today, which isn't difficult since that is all they talk about on cable news. But fitting for the times. I am enjoying reading this book, anticipating the next step of the Corey Grace. I recommend this book to anyone who loves drama, and this book is filled with it. Good job, Mr. Patterson!! Please don't give up the ending.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why is it that the only group Americans will tolerate people slamming are Christians? This book would have been pulled if he talked about ANY other group other than Christians. Can you imagine if Patterson's evil villians were doing this in the name of Mohammed, or for race or sexual preference? People feel they can offend Christians without any consequences.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Another great story by Patterson - Exile, his last book about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was a humdinger, too. This story traces the leading Republican candidates for the presidential nomination through the primaries. It's a good mix - the evangelist, the puppet and the war hero who, just to give him an 'edge', falls for an African-American actress in the middle of it all. Most intriguing is the in-fighting and behind the scenes manuevering - not a pretty sight. I like to think that Patterson's dirty tricks came from his creative, fertile mind - but when you see the credits at the back of the book, and see who advised him on all things Washingtonian, you will fear that there is truth involved! Since you can read this book and keep one eye on CNN and FNC at the same time, you will find it all blending together in the mix-master of politics - and you'll wonder, like I did, whether The Race was really a unique peek through the looking glass at what really goes on. For me, it just solidified my convictions that politics as usual have got to change. Our good guy in this story finally did the right thing, and, a tribute to the story - we didn't know about it until those last few pages. Well worth the read. Can't wait for the next one!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A good book if you are at all into politics. RNP shows just how down and dirty politicians can really be. Win at any cost or at anyone's expense. The American voters are the big losers in the game of politics. Read it and be shocked, or not. I read it in a couple of days. Good reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not really into legal thrillers, which is what Patterson usually writes. However, when it comes to political fiction, Patterson hits it out of the park! The Race focuses on Senator Corey Grace (R-OH). He's the kind of Republican, I wish was actually running for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. He's a great senator, an honest man, and a genuine war hero to boot. The book focuses on his maverick campaign for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, and his budding romance with African American actress (and liberal Democrat)Lexie Hart. If you're a political junkie, this book is definitely for you. There are great chapters regarding Grace's campaign in the South Carolina primary, and his (and others') back room wheeling/dealing during the GOP convention. There are only two problems I had with the book. I felt things kind of dragged when the book changed focus from the campaign to the romance angle. Thankfully the book is still so riveting that you can get past those slow chapters quickly. My second problem is that RNP lets his own political views shine through sometimes. Those views are more often than not, anti-Republican. It was enough to make me roll my eyes from time to time, but I think even most Republicans will find the book riveting enough to ignore it. I seriously could not put the book down, and flew through it during my Christmas break from work. If you're a political junkie, pick up The Race. You won't be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Patterson preaches and expounds on every political, racial, moral issue in one fell swoop - too much, it's boring!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Richard North Patterson doesn't need me to tell him what an excellent author he is, but I can't help but say how much I enjoyed THE RACE and marvel at how well he told this story which made it a real page turner . . .hard to put down sort of book. I would also be willing to state that both THE RACE and EXILE have been the most enjoyable books that I have read so far in 2007 . . .I can hardly wait for the next one.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Corey Grace is the perfect presidential candidate. He's a decorated American hero, a Gulf War veteran who survived months of captivity and torture. Now 43 and a senator from Ohio, he's honest, conscientious, completely truthful, and movie star good looking. Unfortunately, he only exists between the pages of Richard North Patterson's timely, compelling new novel The Race. Grace is the ideal person to win his party's nomination, or so many tell him. Most would appreciate it if he wouldn't be quite so truthful and would be willing to pacify his powerful enemies in some small ways, but he's still an A-list contender. He is not a man without issues - a younger brother who idolized him committed suicide, his marriage failed, his only child, a daughter, is a stranger to him, and he grew up with remote, hard scrabble parents. In addition, he finds himself attracted to Lexie Hart, a beautiful actress who visited him to enlist his vote for stem cell research. An actress would be bad enough, he is told, but she is an African-American actress. She, too, has issues, experiences in her past that haunt. Once Grace decides that he will work to become his party's nominee, he finds himself in mixed company - others vying for the Republican Party's nomination are Bible-thumping Rev. Bob Christy, and Senator Rob Marotta, a man who sees Grace's arrival in the Senate as 'easy as his smile, greased by an act of heroism that seemed to induce an uncomfortable self-doubt in those never called on to be heroes.' In addition, Marotta is controlled by a campaign director who gives added meaning to manipulation and machination. However, when photos of Grace and Lexie are made public it seems his chances are doomed until terrorists break into an office building and Grace performs an amazing act of heroism. Then, as an adviser tells him, 'This is a transcendent moment,.....It's like Giuliani after 9/11 - a remission of all prior sins.' From that point on Patterson ratchets up his narrative to an unexpected conclusion. In this intriguing political novel the author leaves no cards unplayed - racism, terrorism, gay rights, media control. The Race is a timely story and a terrific one. - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
This isn't your usual Richard North Patterson mystery. This book is an eye opener into the political arena. I found I was turning the pages at quite a clip. A great book for the this Presidential race period. Another hit....
harstan More than 1 year ago
During the Gulf War, Air Force pilot Corey Grace survived his jet¿s crash and months of incarceration and torture from the enemy who ignored the Geneva Convention. He became a media darling as a real American hero. Over the thirteen years that have passed since his ordeal, Corey has become the Republican US Senator from Ohio and considered one of the 50 ¿sexiest men alive¿.------------------- Corey is running for his party¿s presidential nomination. He has a reasonable chance of winning, but his handlers fear his telling the truth is harmful to his chances as much as his willingness to cross the aisle to work with the Democrats. His chief rivals are Senator Rob Marotta who is willing to pay the price of doing whatever his handler ¿The Darth Vader of American politics¿ demands including stretching, omitting, or misleading the facts and Christian fundamentalist Reverend Bob Christy who considers Corey a heretic is also working against him. ----------------- With all the ethical and hypocritical issues coming out of DC and with rigging the executive branch to further a party over the country, Richard North Patterson¿s latest thriller feels genuine. Turning Gore Vidal¿s The Best Man upside down, Mr. Patterson makes the case that an honest person, even the greatest American hero, cannot easily win a party nomination for president because the other side plays loose with the facts and the media does not confront their swift assault in a timely manner. Readers will appreciate this exposure on honesty is the last choice in American politics.------------------ Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't read this book, it is slooooow. I'm half way through and have to force myself to keep going. It has got to get better, besides I paid good money for this book and refuse to trash it. Maybe if this was not an election year it might fly, but I doubt it.