Thursday, September 19, 2019

Book Reviews Reloaded: Madam President

This article first appeared on East Niagara Post on November 3, 2015. It is repeated here as I work to put all my book reviews in one place. They will be posted on Thursdays or Fridays and only be altered from the original in that I will add publisher information and pages. Hopefully, by revisiting these reviews, other people might find a book they'd like to pick up for their own enjoyment.

Madam President - Nicolle Wallace
Atria/Emily Bestler Books
352 Pages

Since it seems that we’re currently stuck in an endless Presidential election cycle, it only seems appropriate that this week’s review is about what an American President has to face through their normal duties as leader. Nicolle Wallace, former White House Communications director, has delivered another chapter in the life of Charlotte Kramer, forty-fifth President of the United States. Madam President is the newest book to take on the Kramer administration.

Charlotte Kramer, against the advice of her closest staff, has agreed to allow a news crew to embed themselves into a single day of her life. The cameras would be following the President through every briefing, every meeting, and every unplanned moment. Unfortunately, the day begins with one of those unplanned moments.

Five simultaneous attacks on American soil rattle the country’s faith to the very core. This book follows the President, Secretary of Defense, and press secretary as they struggle to keep the citizenry calm and find out who the terrorists are. Will they be able to work the channels needed without giving away state secrets to the news crew in tow.

Imagine September 11th on an even larger scale. The entire country is in disarray as panic spreads. While in reality, President Bush was punted from site to site on Air Force One after the extent of those attacks was uncovered, President Kramer stays in the limelight. Even when some of Kramer’s dirty laundry threatens to be exposed, she remains steadfast in the face of personal attack.

Wallace was in the White House on the day of the September 11th attacks. Her inside views of the government on that day were crucial for her to deliver an in-depth and believable fictional account of another terrorist attack on our home soil. She viewed the inner workings of a government in disarray as they struggled to keep a brave face, and translated it to the page.

Wallace flips quickly between her three main characters and their point of view. The reader does not get much time to settle in with one scene before the next one is thrust upon them. The writing is jittery and full of raw emotion. It gives the reader the sense that they are in the middle of the spur of the moment decisions that are made during times of crisis.

Of all the characters written in this series, Charlotte Kramer seems the least fleshed out. After playing a major role in the previous books in the series, Kramer settles in the shadows and lets the light shine on her Press Secretary, Dale, and her Secretary of Defense, Melanie. These two carry the story with decision making skills to keep the President moving forward. These characters have formed well over the course of the three books, and have become the leaders of the narrative in their own right.

I have enjoyed all three books in this series. This latest book, Madam President, while named for the greatest leader in the free world, explores the network of support that allows the President to do her job. To outsiders, some of these other roles may seem minor, but Nicolle Wallace exposes the truth for all of us. The  buck may stop at the Resolute desk, but you don’t have a successful leader without someone there making sure that all the T’s are crossed.

Madam President by Nicolle Wallace is a fast and exciting read. It will not take you long to envelop yourself into the story and turn page after page. This is book three in the Kramer series detailing the first woman President. Hopefully, there will be others as her term goes on and the political landscape slowly shifts.

Craig Bacon is a political junkie. Tonight is one of his favorite nights of the year. Vote early.Vote often.