The 45th in the title is the 45th president of the United States who in actuality is Donald J. Trump. The story begins at the Republican national convention which is meeting to select a candidate to run against Hillary Constable, the nominated selection of the Democratic party. Trump makes a short appearance when he talks with the man who is indicated as the kingmaker at the Republican convention. But, this is not to be.
The kingmaker, who is the majority whip of the party, turns to Julian Drake, a man that left politics 10 years prior to the story to raise his sister’s children.They had been made orphans due to the untimely deaths of their mother and father and it was felt that Drake on leaving politics missed a chance to possibly rise, even as far as the presidency. Drake is called upon to write the keynote speech for the whip and than is deviously forced into presenting it.
Drake does and moves the convention into the position of selecting him, an unknown, as it’s candidate. He wins the election and begins the process of changing the country over. The novel than becomes a recap of philosopher’s and politician’s thoughts from the past.
Buffa has turned his novel into a compendium of his own thoughts and feelings about what is best for the country. Without summarizing the ideas the reader, like it or not, is thrust into the past to learn about writings and thoughts of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates. In addition to the actions and ideas of John F Kennedy and Winston Churchill, we learn about the political manipulations of Disraeli, Thomas Jefferson and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The scenario is that the world has completely moved away from the glorious past when great men were able to guide the populations into wholesome lives. The reader of this novel might like the idea of learning about Buffa’s political ideas, but if not it is going to be a tedious situation to plow through pages and pages of idealized philosophy. I finished the book because I felt an obligation to do so. But 1984 it is not.
5/19 Paul Lane
THE 45TH by D.W. Buffa. Polis Books (May 21, 2019). ISBN 978-1947993532. 308p.