Slightly flawed, but satisfying slice of US politics all the same

Book: The Race

Book: The Race

Author: Richard North Patterson

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Reviewer: Nthabisang Moreosele

The storyline is riveting, the pace racy and the writing good. Americans have always been fascinated by their own down 'n dirty politics, which has prompted many people to write about what goes on behind the scenes.

Their newspapers investigate their politicians' past lives until they find evidence of illicit affairs, drugs and corruption.

The Race is about a Republican Party-nomination race by three basically decent contenders who believe that they were born to lead their country, and consequently the world.

But the cynical, practical and experienced senator's greed for political office is so great that he abandons all sense of decency to destroy his rivals.

He is surrounded by kingmakers who have no morals or ideals, just a lust for power.

The second candidate is naive and idealistic, despite being a politician for years. He thinks that being true to his principles will result in good governance. He does not question his fallibility.

He is the main character around which the story loops. He has a mixed-race love interest which further complicates his fortunes as he joins the race to be president. He gets the witty bits of dialogue.

The third contender is a Christian tellyvangelist who has a direct line to God. The author uses him to poke fun at conservative Republican Christians who play a major role in politics in the US.

Apart from his literal belief in the Bible, he is also surprisingly liberal in matters of race and morality. Though he is anti-science, anti-abortion and homophobic, deep down he is a more honest man than the other two. He is also a gracious loser.

The book moves at a brisk pace and the storyline has intriguing twists. Unfortunately, the resolution is a damp squib. It is still a satisfying slice of American politics for all that.