Thursday, September 27, 2012

Review of The Madman Theory by Harvey Simon

It is 1962 and there are children at play in the White House for the first time since the presidency of William Howard Taft. Richard Nixon, the vigorous 49-year-old president, has been in office less than two years, having won election by a razor-thin margin over Senator John Kennedy. In Moscow, the wildly unpredictable Nikita Khrushchev is looking forward to visiting his cherished revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro. Just 90 miles from American shores, Khrushchev will announce an audacious and dangerous nuclear stunt to abruptly shift the balance of power: a secretly-built network of missiles across Cuba that put American cities in the atomic crosshairs. But President Nixon has his own announcement planned. A U.S. spy plane has discovered the missiles being set up in Cuba and Nixon will soon address the nation to announce his response. Meanwhile, First Lady Pat Nixon is in California to look at a San Clemente house the first couple may purchase. Seeing shoppers crowd around a store-window television, Pat gets her first inkling of trouble. Dick has always insisted she not listen to the news and she is happy, for now, to return to her correspondence. In the coming days, the confrontation between the U.S. and its nuclear foe will escalate. The president will weigh his determination to overthrow Castro against the risk of all-out war as Pat struggles to reconcile her proper role as a wife with her estrangement from the man who thrust her into a public life she despises.

4 stars

The Madman Theory by Harvey Simon is being released in October in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the book Harvey puts a small twist on the election of 1960 by proposing the Nixon was the winner instead of Kennedy. The book then follows the actions that Nixon's "Madman Theory" of political power playing result in.

Personally I'm a bit young to really remember much of the Cold War and didn't know a ton about the Cuban Missile Crisis going into the book, but my limited knowledge did not take away from my understanding or enjoyment of the book.

I have always enjoyed history so this book held a lot of appeal to me. I was not disappointed in what I found between the covers of this one. While the book does not cover any actual battle, it does an excellent job building the tension of the men who were in the position to make the decision on whether or not to start a fight that could have led to the end of life as we know it. Nixon is shown as a thoughtful man who is riddled with insecurities, making him feel the need to prove how tough he really is to those around him. This makes the threat of war seem even more frightening, not knowing if he would order the nukes launched just to prove how tough he is.

This book is an excellent read for people who enjoy history and especially alternate timeline reading. Well done Mr. Simon.

Pick up your copy on Amazon.

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