Tom Fool

David Stacton

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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.


David Stacton (1923-1968) was born Lionel Kingsley Evans in San Francisco. He attended Stanford University before serving in the Civilian Public Service as a conscientious objector during World War II, eventually graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 1951. Stacton went to Europe after college and ended up staying, in his words, ‘because I liked it and because…

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