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‘Yes, it was a crusade. But just what was it the people out there feared and hated so much? Not surely the candidate. He was a decent man. Or was that it?’
With Tom Fool (1962) David Stacton concluded a triptych of novels drawn from the history of America. For this final panel he turned his eye on politics. The titular protagonist is a fictional rendering of Wendell Wilkie, unlikely Republican challenger to Franklin D. Roosevelt in the presidential election of 1940. As ‘Tom Fool’ endures an epic campaigning tour of thirty-one states – assisted (or dogged) by his political advisor ‘Sideboard’ and husband-and-wife PR consultants the Pattersons – he finds himself uncomfortably reminded that America, in its vastness and contradictions, is more than one country, and a unique conundrum to one who would be President.
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