Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Politics Uncovered

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Politics Uncovered

Article excerpt

The novel can do many things. But rarely can it do them quickly. It takes too long to write, to manufacture, to distribute. As such, the political novel, in our crazy-hurry world, is usually a contradiction in terms. Nonetheless, Henry Holt has declared its new publication The Race, by Richard North Patterson, "the best political novel for years".

The Race, published in the 2007 primary season, takes that same season--specifically the Republican primaries--as its narrative setting. It's a transparent roman a clef. The hero, Senator Corey Grace, is a composite of two of Patterson's personal friends (as the author tells us in the afterword), John McCain and William Cohen. Like McCain, Grace is a war hero, an ace fighter pilot, and a gallant POW (to keep him young and sexy, Patterson has made it Desert Storm, not McCain's Vietnam). Like Senator Cohen, Grace has a glamorous African-American partner.

But what makes The Race interesting to the thoughtful observer is the novel's prince of darkness, Alex Rohr, who connects with the deep--and usually inscrutable--politics of the American book world.

A non-American mogul with a cultivated, "Oxbridge" accent, Rohr is the "semi-monopolistic" owner of "five magazines, three major film studios, a home-video company, a cable provider, four record labels, two publishing houses, one for general interest readers, the other for conservative Christians, a major broadcast network, the highest-rated cable news network, the nation's largest newspaper chain and 119 talk-radio stations". …

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