Advise and Consent
|Advise and Consent|
|Publication date||July 11, 1959|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback) & Audio Book (Cassette)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-385-05419-X (hardcover edition) & ISBN 0-380-01007-0 (paperback edition)|
|Followed by||A Shade of Difference|
Advise and Consent is a 1959 political novel by Allen Drury that explores the United States Senate confirmation of controversial Secretary of State nominee Robert Leffingwell who is a former member of the Communist Party. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1960 and was followed by Drury's A Shade of Difference in 1962 and four additional sequels.
The novel's title comes from the United States Constitution's Article II, Sec. 2, cl. 2, which provides that the President of the United States "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consults, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States...."
Allen Drury was a conservative and anti-Communist, and these views permeate his fiction. He believed most liberals were naive about the dangers of the Communist threat to undermine the government of the United States:
The basic assumption underlying Drury fiction is that totalitarian Communism is intrinsically evil and that Communism's ultimate goal is world domination, an end or goal that Communists will strive to achieve by whatever moral, immoral, or amoral means are expedient, including propaganda, lies, subversion, intimidation, infiltration, betrayal, and violence. A Drury thesis is that in Communism's constant war against American democratic Capitalism, a steady progress is being made.
The story of Brigham Anderson's homosexual love affair, its exposure, and his suicide, was based on a real political episode. In 1954, Senators Styles Bridges and Herman Welker threatened to publicize a homosexual in Senator Lester Hunt's family if Hunt did not resign from the Senate and Hunt killed himself.
In addition, the website of the U.S. Senate states:
"Based on Drury’s observations, one may guess who the author based his fictional senators on: Alben Barkley may be the dashing majority leader; Robert Taft might be the minority leader; Kenneth McKellar may be the southern senator; the overzealous Senator Fred Van Ackerman might be a caricature of Joseph McCarthy; and the tragic Brigham Anderson, who kills himself in his Senate office, reminds us of Senator Lester Hunt of Wyoming, who took his life in the Russell Building in 1954. The president and vice president strongly resemble President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Vice President Harry Truman. The entire incident could be loosely based on the Chambers-Hiss case.
However, the book is not meant to be a roman a clef, and it does not purport to disguise a true story. Drury considered his fictional senators and others as composites, and wove them through successive books. The author was not interested in profiling any one individual but in capturing the whole gallery of stock characters that Washington had seen and would be seeing again."
Plot summary 
A U.S. President names a new Secretary of State to promote rapprochement with the Soviet Union. Nominee Robert Leffingwell, the darling of the liberals, is viewed by many conservative senators as an appeaser. Others have doubts about his character. The nomination proceeds smoothly until a minor bureaucrat named Gelman tells the subcommittee handling the confirmation nomination that he and Leffingwell were in a Communist cell when in college along with James Morton.The subcommittee deems Gelman's testimony far-fetched, and the chairman, Senator Anderson, is about to send the nomination to the full Foreign Relations Committee when a member of the President's staff calls Anderson to tell him that he once was known as "James Morton". Anderson holds open his subcommittee hearings, which enrages the President. The President orders Majority Leader Munson to get Anderson to move the nomination by enticement or threat. Munson cannot find a way to threaten Anderson.
Anderson is a Mormon and has a wife and child. While in Hawaii on R&R late in World War II, he had a month-long love affair with another man. Anderson has been struggling with his homosexual orientation throughout his life. His maid, cleaning out is attic, gives him a picture of the two men taken in Hawaii in a sealed and forgotten envelope. Anderson's wife Mabel has occasionally complained that she does not feel loved in their marriage. While driving to the Capitol, he picks up Associate Supreme Court Justice Davis, a supporter of Leffingwell's nomination. As Anderson drops Davis off at the Supreme Court, the envelope with the picture falls from the car. Davis finds it and, unable to bring himself to use the evidence, delivers it to Munson, who scolds Davis for suggesting blackmail but keeps the photograph.
The next evening at the White House, the President learns that Anderson knows Leffingwell was in a Communist cell with Morton. The President decides to get James Morton out of town and proceed with the nomination. Anderson vehemently objects, stating that the honorable thing to do is to withdraw the nomination. Anderson leaves. The President, alerted earlier by Davis to the existence of the photo, takes it from a reluctant Munson and gives it to Senator Van Ackerman, an enemy of Anderson. Van Ackerman and his allies begin a whispering campaign about Anderson. Confronted by his wife, Anderson admits his homosexual past. She reacts badly, leaving Anderson feeling more alone than ever. He receives a phone call from the man with whom he had the affair, who admits that he sold his story to someone because he needed the money.
The next morning, the editor of the Washington Post visits Anderson with a copy of a column detailing the affair. The editor tears it up in front of Anderson, saying that no Washington newspaper will publish it, but warns that someone else will publish it soon. That afternoon, feeling trapped and alone, Anderson decides there is only one way to maintain his honor and dignity. He writes a letter to his best friend and mentor, Senator Orrin Knox, explains what has happened, returns to his office in the Senate Office Building, and shoots himself in the head. Senator Anderson's death turns the majority of the Senate against the President and the Majority Leader. Senator Knox becomes the de facto leader of the opposition, and vows to defeat the Leffingwell nomination. The Senate unanimously censures Van Ackerman for contributing to Senator Anderson's death.
Senator Munson makes a speech linking Anderson's death to the Leffingwell nomination and resigns as majority leader. The President summons Knox, a two-time presidential candidate, to the White House and promises to back him for the party's nomination next year if he will allow the Leffingwell nomination to go through. Knox dares him to put this promise in writing, and the President does. The President also tells Knox that the Soviets have just launched a manned mission to the moon and that he needs a Secretary of State who can deal with the Soviets. Knox discusses the President's promise of support with his colleagues and his wife, but decides to oppose the Leffingwell nomination. The Soviet cosmonauts address the world via radio and claim the moon for the Soviet Union. The Soviet Premier then invites the President to Geneva for a summit meeting. The U.S. launches its own moon mission and the President gives a speech asserting that no one owns the moon. Despite his misgivings, he will meet the Soviet leader in Geneva. The Senate votes on the Leffingwell nomination and defeats it by a vote of 74-24. Following the vote, the President dies of a heart attack and Vice President Hudson becomes President.
President Hudson addresses a joint session of Congress after the late President's funeral, saying he will not be a candidate for his party's nomination next year, that he will honor the late President's promise to go to Geneva, and that he will nominate Orrin Knox as Secretary of State. Knox is promptly confirmed, and President Hudson leaves for Switzerland.
Saturday Review said of Advise and Consent in August 1959 that "It may be a long time before a better one comes along." Roger Kaplan of Policy Review wrote in 1999 that the novel "in many ways invented a genre in fiction…. The use of a racy intrigue, if possible involving both sex and foreign policy, is what characterizes the contemporary form. Forty years on, Advise and Consent is the only book of this genre that a literary-minded person really ought to read."
In 1960, the Pulitzer Prize committee recommended that the award for fiction be given to Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King. The board overrode that recommendation and awarded it to Advise and Consent. As of 2011, it was the last time the Pulitzer for fiction was awarded to the year's bestselling novel.
The novel was adapted by Loring Mandel into the 1960 Broadway play Advise and Consent (play), directed by Franklin Schaffner and starring Richard Kiley, Ed Begley. Henry Jones and Chester Morris. The play ran successfully on Broadway, at the Cort Theatre, from November 17, 1960 to May 20, 1961. The production was followed by a national company, starring Farley Granger.
The novel was adapted into the 1962 film Advise and Consent, directed by Otto Preminger and starring Walter Pidgeon and Henry Fonda. Preminger was nominated for a Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and Burgess Meredith won the National Board of Review award for Best Supporting Actor for his role. Charles Laughton was also nominated for a British Academy Film Award for Best Foreign Actor.
See also 
- Pulitzer Prize Winners: Fiction (1948-present) - Pulitzer.org Retrieved October 1, 2008.
- Tom Kemme, Political Fiction, the Spirit of the Age, and Allen Drury (Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1987), 165, 170
- New York Times: Thomas Mallon, "'Advise and Consent' at 50," June 25, 2009, accessed March 4, 2011
- "Advise and Consent". United States Senate. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
- Rich, Frank (15 May 2005). "Just How Gay Is the Right?". New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
- Kaplan, Roger (1 October 1999). "Allen Drury and the Washington Novel". Hoover Institution. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
- Ringle, Ken (4 September 1998). "Allen Drury, Father Of the D.C. Drama". Washington Post. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
- Kaplan, Roger (October/November 1999). "Allen Drury and the Washington Novel". Policy Review. Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
- Heinz Dietrich Fischer, Erika J. Fischer, Chronicle of the Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction (Munich: K.G. Saur, 2007), 21
- New York Times: Edwin McDowell, "Publishing: Pulitzer Controversies," May 11, 1984, accessed August 20, 2011
- Denn, Rebekah. "Top 100 most wanted out-of-print books of 2011". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
- Photos of the first edition of Advise and Consent
- Thomas Mallon, "'Advise and Consent' at 50," New York Times, June 25, 2009