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Patriots Paperback – May 7, 2012
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From the Publisher
"David Frum is someone who fearlessly speaks his mind, regardless of where the chips may fall, so it’s no surprise he’s able to convey so much truth in his fiction." - Arianna Huffington
"What the novel captures best is the frenzy of our time. When money, politics and ideology converge on one city in the first age of truly instant communication, it becomes possible to stir up rage and fear on a grand scale in less than 15 minutes. Whole, short chapters of this book are simply quotations from the blogs, tweets and headlines of crucial days when the madness is at its height. Plenty of people have a vested interest in the madness... As one says: ''There are really only two choices. We win and they lose – or else, they win and we lose.’’ Walter’s proposition is that there is, in fact, a third possibility: ''We all lose.’’" -Charles Moore, The Telegraph
“…it is excellent political satire—and, for those in the know, bears more than a passing resemblance to reality.” -The Economist
Top customer reviews
"Patriots" tells the story of the conservative party's relentless hijacking by more extreme right wing, somewhat anti-intellectual elements. At first the story's protagonist, who tells the story, newly arrived at a political job, gets ahead by mostly agreeing with everyone. The narrator allows others to draw their own conclusions about him with minimal information--usually seeing what they want to see, sometimes finding that to be a mistake. Perilous complications ensue. He eventually matures and finds his way among the ambitious politicos, sorting out those with a moral core he can respect, while avoiding being destroyed by the rest.
I was very entertained; some scenes were laugh out loud funny. After I finished the book, I happened to be listening to Bill Moyers and Company on XM: an interview with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, political communication scholar at U Penn. This was a welcome coincidence. I was left with a desire to study and consider how our system of choosing politicians might be improved. Her work is of great interest for anyone who is tired of the big contributor/lobby domination we now endure.
Mr. Frum's very good book has motivated me to pay more attention to politics. If I had any doubt before whether complacency is a bad idea, it's gone now. A call to action aimed at more moderate citizens may have been his intent--if so, well done.
Senator Hazen has a key position in the Senate, and political wheelers and dealers begin to court Walter as a point of contact with the senator. He finds himself enmeshed in the politics of Washington, DC. His live-in girlfriend, Valerie, finds a job with the leading party planner in town. Let the action begin. The main part of the novel covers a four month period of time. Walter finds himself being pushed and manipulated by various people, including Valerie and Senator Hazen, until he becomes an unlikely hero in spite of himself.
The book is split into 77 chapters including an afterward. It is not a page turner, but worth reading, although I found myself skimming a bit here and there. At points it can seem a bit tedious as Walter attends yet another party, but it all ties together as various people contend for position and power. Hitch your wagon to the wrong horse and you can be left behind eating dust. There is no middle ground as politics are put ahead of the country's problems. Nobody wants to be taxed (sound familiar) but nobody wants to give up any of their benefits.
The plot is a kind of shortened The Beautiful and Damned, with much more likeable central characters and a much less cynical rock bottom to redemption ending. As fiction, it is not especially eloquent, but sufficiently engaging that I never thought to put it away. The peripheral characters are pretty much typecast, but that's understandable given the author's intent to type the kind of characters the protagonist would encounter in his occupational realm.
My biggest complaint is with the high number of grammatical and other errors allowed into the book. If someone was paid to copy edit this book, if it did not go directly from the author's computer to distribution, then a crime has been committed.