Well! So here's one we all should be reading. It's about an American president that is elected through
the tampering and meddling of Russia in order to be their puppet once in office.
Can you imagine that? HAHAHA!!!
OK, it's not funny, it really isn't. And it is not Dan Brown, either, so if you are expecting edge of the seat terror, it isn't here, but it is a page-turner that you can't put down. I was expecting fireworks, and though there are a few assassinations, it takes a closer look at the realities of governments and foreign relations, and the options bend more towards, a) keeping the truth from the people; and b) finding a peaceful and diplomatic way to resolve the problem, although the option of assassination does come into the picture, but I will try not to give too much away.
Ted Allbeury lived from 1917 to 2005, a nice long life, part of which he spent, in various operations, as a British spy. He reached the level of lieutenant colonel in the Special Operations Executive, and later was captured and tortured during the Cold War, when running agents across the border of East and West Germany, according to Wikipedia. After leaving the spy business, he ran his own advertising agency, then ran a "pirate" radio station, and finally, to our delight, settled down as an author, during which period he wrote over forty novels. Wikipedia's article otherwise supplies very little information on Allbeury, and does not have a page for any of his books.
I'm not sure how available they are now, though. Dover has published five, of which I already own four, and Amazon has more. This one was first published in 1980, then reissued by Dover in 2017, and I'll bet it's been a best seller. If you Google Allbeury's name, this book is the one that comes up. On the back cover blurb of the Dover edition, they state:
This remarkably plausible thriller offers a heady mix of political intrigue and intense suspense—with the very future of America and the free world hanging in the balance. Ted Allbeury, bestselling author and former lieutenant-colonel of the British Intelligence Corps, captures with wit and style the high stakes of this eerily prescient spy story.
Prescient, indeed. Dover, knew, didn't they, when they picked this one up for republication
in 2017. Though the actual year is not given for the election, it is, I believe, 1980, twelve years after the
May, 1968 political uprising in Paris, which included the alliance of French Communists and Socialists formed
to replace President Charles de Gaulle. The presidents elected during those twelve years would have been Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, and not being
politically active during that period of my life, I did some research to see if either Carter or Reagan bore any resemblance at all to the character in the
book, Logan Powell. Nope, not a bit. Trump? Yep, uncanny. And the more different opinions I read, the more I realized what a prophesy Allbeury wrote.
Did he see it coming? Well, supposedly the Cold War is over, but the scenario remains.
The story begins as a veteran British SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) agent, James MacKay runs across some information that raises his eyebrows. The U.S. presidential election nears, and the candidate in the lead is Republican Logan Powell, But it is when MacKay sees a photo in Time and recognizes Powell's campaign manager, Andrew Dempsey, that his memory returns to the protests in Paris, 1968. He was there, and Dempsey was a Communist. His girlfriend, Helenka Tcharkova was a Russian Communist, and, as we find out later, Dempsey was pure American who only joined the party to secure Helenka's love, which was not even necessary. They are both beaten and arrested, and the American government refuses to come to Dempsey's aid. But a Russian does, known by a number of different names, but in this instance it is Viktor Kleppe, also an "American." Dempsey is returned to the U.S. and Tcharkova returns to Russia to become a successful artist.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. As MacKay's memory is jogged, he senses something is very wrong with the present picture concerning the American election. He goes to his superior with the information, then flies off to meet with the CIA, a man named Nolan, and one of impeccable ability and ethics. The CIA, in fact, is not aware of Dempsey's past. They go to the Director of the CIA, Morton Harper, and he agrees to let them investigate, discreetly. MacKay now operates as a CIA agent, and returns to Paris where he investigates the girl. Nolan covers Dempsey and Kleppe, and finds there is no doubt there has been Russian interference in the election. Logan Powell has risen out of nowhere, first becoming governor of Connecticut because he was instrumental in settling a certain strike that "just happened" to occur at an opportune moment.
The strike, of course, was also orchestrated, in fact the entire political career of Powell is orchestrated. The Russians spent years honing and priming this particular man to do their bidding once he is settled in to the highest political office in America.
As is my policy with mysteries and related genres, I am careful of what I share in my reviews so as to not give the surprises away, and so I will stop there. I took a number of notes, so I will make a few more points.
One is that I was surprised at what the Russians expected of Powell, thinking it would be more along the lines of handing over classified information, or something similar, or even threatening to U.S. security. But it was not. In fact, many people would probably wonder why their request would even be a problem, which left me wondering if I was not seeing the whole picture and consequences. Technically, by the way, the Cold War did not end until the collapse of the USSR in 1991. But that certainly does not imply that Russia isn't still interested in meddling in our elections for their own benefit. And I would imagine their benefits might be a bit more dangerous this time around.
At the beginning of the book, MacKay is thinking to himself how different British and American reactions to this particular issue would be. It seems to me Allbeury had a high opinion of American morals and ethics. I realize they have gotten SO much worse, since the Bushes, Clintons, Obamas, and now, OMG, I with this bozo we currently have in office, it is off the charts. But the truth is, this government has been corrupt from the get-go, and when you watch the documentary The Minds of Men, you can see the extent of criminal activity of the CIA and government dating way back. Here is a quote from the book:
But Americans were an odd kind of people. If a similar problem had come up in London, Magnusson would have had a discreet word with the Foreign Secretary and all the efforts would have gone into sweeping it all under the carpet. But Americans never reacted that way. They ferreted away until they got at the truth and to hell who got exposed. And they generally did it in public with the TV cameras letting you watch it happening. There would never be a Watergate in Britain.
As we all know here, Trump is a "sweep it under the carpet" kind of guy, and the media follows along.
Chapter 6 gives one an inside look at precisely how the Russians would go about planning an event like this. Of course, throughout the book, there is lots of money and sex to go along with it, as in prostitutes. I would imagine the U.S. would probably have the same game plan, because I am sure we are just as guilty and probably guiltier of meddling in other countries' business.
As Dempsey and Kleppe are investigated, along with those involved with the Union Strike, Powell is left out of it. In fact, they are not sure just how much he was aware of. Does he know the Russians got him elected and does he realize he will be expected to do their bidding? And, God, but does this sound really familiar? And how are they guaranteed to secure Powell's cooperation once he gets in office? I won't answer that, but just think Stormy Daniels . . . . And some photos.
The tension grows as Inauguration Day nears, the 20th Day of January. The CIA must have indisputable evidence by then, AND figure out what to do with it. Because in this case, keeping the truth from the people is of utmost importance. And if Powell is allowed to be actually sworn in as President, getting him out will be next to impossible.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Much of the book really made me gasp, and my respect of Allbeury as a political prophet increased as the story moved on. Prescient indeed.
It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyways. This really is a book you must read. Allbeury's books are not available as free eBooks yet, and I don't know how many are still in print. This one, I am certain, is readily available, and could probably be found through a library, too. I'm looking forward to reading more of his books. This one was very easy to read; clear, understandable, and highly entertaining!
Here are a couple other links. The first one, from Slate, supplies more interesting background information on Allbeury than Wikipedia and a few points about the book. And here's some comments from our Good Readers at Goodreads,
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