Politicos Turned Novelists
Washington notables make their professional lives into the stuff of fiction. By Shane Harris
Comments () | Published December 17, 2012
You know Byron Dorgan the ex-senator from North Dakota. But do you know Byron Dorgan the thriller writer?
Dorgan’s first novel, Blowout, co-written with David Hagberg, centers on a U.S. president who dispatches a crack team of environmental researchers—from the Badlands of North Dakota—on a top secret mission to produce clean energy from coal. Now, reports PoliticoPro, the energy-security-minded former senator is returning to the “eco-thriller” genre, with a book about cybersecurity and the electric power grid set to be published next year.
Dorgan is on a well-stocked list of politicians and Washington power brokers who’ve written semi-autobiographical works of fiction. A sampling:
Barbara Boxer, Democrat Senator from California
The author of two books, with Mary-Rose Hayes, her most recent, Blind Trust, is a Beltway-centered nail-biter ripped from the Bush-era headlines. A Democrat female senator squares off against a Vice President “whose excessive zeal in enforcing national security has begun to infringe on individual liberties.” One imagines the protagonist saying things to the VP that Boxer wished she’d said to Dick Cheney—or perhaps did behind closed doors.
“Agreeably told if far-fetched.” —Publisher’s Weekly
Amazon customer rating (average): 2.7 stars out of 5
William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense
His second novel, Blink of an Eye, is about a national security adviser named Sean Falcone, who tracks down terrorists after they detonate a nuclear bomb inside the United States.
“Cohen knows all the secrets. This is a story that lays out the detail and the stakes for what President Obama said would be a genuine game changer.” —Bob Woodward
Amazon customer rating: 3.4 stars
Nicolle Wallace, GOP strategist and commentator
America’s first woman president—who sounds nothing like the woman Wallace tried to help elect to national office, Sarah Palin—scrambles to manage a classified terrorist threat that’s been made public.
“Reads like a lighthearted novel for people interested in politics, but it’s also a pretty big indictment of how the political process works.” —Time.com
Amazon customer rating: 3.2 stars
Len Downie, former executive editor, Washington Post
Beltway thriller about an intrepid newspaper reporter uncovering a powerful conspiracy.
“Let’s be clear: newspaper critics like books written by newspaper editors about newspaper reporting. With that filter in place, critics agreed that this smart debut novel provides an engrossing take on Washington politics.” —Bookmarks Magazine
Amazon customer rating: 3.5 stars
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and GOP Presidential candidate
Gingrich has written a series of historical fictions, including Battle of the Crater, with William R. Forstchen, about an ingenious and risky Union plan to build a tunnel underneath Confederate positions and fill it with explosives.
“Creative, clever, and fascinating.” —James Carville
Amazon customer rating: 4.5 stars
Barbara Mikulski, Democrat Senator from Maryland
A follow up to her debut novel Capitol Offense, which Kirkus Reviews called “notably unpromising,” Capitol Venture follows an accidental female senator through a dizzying plot line involving violent campaign rallies, a murdered congressman, and radioactive waste dumping. The senator co-wrote both books with Marylouise Oates.
“On par with Margaret Truman.” —Midwest Book Review
No Amazon customer ratings
Kristin Gore, writer; also daughter of Vice President Al Gore
The author of three novels, two of which follow another insider-Washington protagonist. Gore’s most recent book, Sweet Jiminy, is about a twenty-something law school student who, suffering a “quarter life crisis,” flees the tumult of Chicago for the tranquility of her grandmother’s Mississippi farm, but then gets ensnared in a murder mystery dating to the civil rights era.
“Worth reading for its original storyline and pithy dialogue.” —Kirkus
3.7 out of 5 stars