This novel, written in 1964 by Don Robertson, is one of the 15 books that will always stick with me. (Noted in an earlier blog.)
The story takes place on November 1-3, 1948, election day and immediately before and after. Thomas Dewey, Republican, was challenging Harry Truman, Democrat incumbent, for the Presidency of the United States. Making fun of Harry Truman had become the nations’ favorite passtime and everyone assumed Dewey would win by a large majority.
But Truman and Dewey are not the main characters of this book. Instead this is a tale of common and not so common folk who each had something to gain or lose depending on which way the election went. The small town politician planning to ride to victory on Dewey’s coat tails … the down-on-his-luck gambler playing a hunch and betting everything against the odds … the newspaper editor uncertain of which wire service prediction to follow as he writes his morning headline. Don Robertson artfully weaves several sub plots together to keep the reader engaged, even though we know who won.
I received A Flag Full of Stars from the Book of the Month Club the year of its publication and then in 1968, an election year, I decided to read it again. I followed that practice until I don’t know how many times I brought the book out to re-read during an election year. I love the story of the pundits and predictors being wrong. I love an upset and wish that today there were still the excitement and mystery and surprise in our presidential election process as there was when Truman beat Dewey.