Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Man - Irving Wallace

It took me a long time to finish this book. Irving Wallace enjoyed writing so much that it seemed the book would never end. 'The Man' in the title refers to a character named Douglass Dilman, a black man who fictionally became The President of the United States of America in September 1964, about the same year when the events like in the Mississippi Burning movie happened.

What would happen if the president, the vice-president and the speaker of the House of Representatives died at the same time in an accident? According to the President Succession Act of 1947, the next in line was President pro tempore of the Senate, and that was Senator Douglass Dilman, who held the position as a political gesture, to shut up (black) demonstrators and rioters. The people around the late president, tried to run the same policies; but as time went by, Dilman began to show his own personality. It was then that they wanted to remove him from office on impeachment. Dilman fought back and tried to get a fair trial: if he was removed it was because he was incompetent, not because the colour of his skin.

Reading this book was like reading political transcripts. Some speeches were very long, and I thought, 'Why couldn't he edit them?" Some characters were interesting, like the president's personal guard, Otto Beggs; Edna Foster, the personal secretary; Sally Watson, the social secretary, who accused the president raping her; Secretary of State Arthur Eaton, and Lawyer Nat Abrahams. As a president, in making decisions, Dilman always chose the right things. He didn't try to please any side, but he chose the right thing, so whatever the outcome was, he had done his best.

Dilman was also not an angel, but when the war against him began, his faults were exaggerated. Some accusations were even fabricated. However, in the end, Wallace made him won and gave the readers a happy ending.

[Irving Wallace] was aware that in black ghettoes "The Man" was slang for "white man" or "the white boss". In The Man he place a black man in the role of the ultimate white boss. But the title had a second, more important meaning to [Irving Wallace]. In the early 1960s the vast majority of black males were used to being treated by whites as a separate species, as something less than a man. Douglass Dilman, the protagonist of the novel, after a lifetime of living as a milquetoast, token Negro, wants to be treated as a man and must learn for himself what it is to act like a man. ~David Wallechinsky

No comments: