Cloggie: booklog 2003: Seven Days in May
Seven Days in May
Fletcher Knebel & Charles W. Bailey II
372 pages
published in 1962

Sometimes when reading older books, you realised how much the world has changed since it was published. Which is the case with Seven Days in May, written in the far more innocent (up to a point) times before the assassination of president Kennedy, before Watergate, when people still trusted the government, when cynicism about the system was still rare.

Seven Days in May is set in 1972 and is the story of a coup attempt by several of the h ighest ranking officiers in the US army, led by the charismatic Marine Corps commander "Gentleman Jim" Scott, against the deeply unpopular American president Lyman. Lyman is unpopular because of the nuclear disarmament treaty he negotiated with the Soviets, which is also the reason for the coup. Fortunately, Colonel "Jiggs" Casey accidently stumbles onto the plot and warns the president. With only seven days left before the coup will commence, it's now a race against time to uncover enough evidence to foil the plot, without doing anything that would divide the country even further.

So far, it looks like a plot that could've been cooked up by Tom Clancy or Larry Bond. The difference lies in the political attitude. Where most modern technothrillers have a conservative, rightwing attitude Seven Days in May has a decidedly liberal slant to its story. In a Clancy story, Gentleman Jim would've been the hero and the "whoolly liberal peace loving" president would've been the villain, or at least the ineffective foil of the villain. Here however, it is the well meaning liberal president, who has faith in the system, who does not want to resort to dirty tricks to neutralise the danger, who saves the day, because of his faith in the American constitution and all it entails.

The other difference between this and modern thrillers, is the lack of violence. Only one death occurs in the story and even that is an accident. There's little violence, only the threat of violence. Even the villain of the piece, gentleman Jim is handling out of concern for the nation, not for his own gain.

All in all it may sound quaint, but I found this still a gripping tale.

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Webpage created 13-01-2003, last updated 03-02-2003
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