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Fletcher Knebel (October 1, 1911 – February 26, 1993) was an American author of several popular works of political fiction.
Knebel was born in Dayton, Ohio, but moved a number of times during his youth. He graduated from high school in Yonkers, New York, spent a year studying at the Sorbonne and graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1934. Upon graduation, he received a job offer from the Coatesville Record in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. He spent the next 20 years working in newspapers, eventually becoming the political columnist for Cowles Publications. From 1951 to 1964, he satirized national politics and government in a nationally published column called "Potomac Fever".
In 1960, he wrote a chapter on John F. Kennedy for the book Candidates 1960. This seemed to ignite a passion for writing books and he turned his hand to book-length works. He wrote fifteen books, most of them fiction, and all of them dealing with politics. His best-known novel is Seven Days in May (1962), (co-written with Charles W. Bailey), about an attempted military coup in the United States. The book was a huge success, staying at number one on the New York Times bestseller list for almost a year, and was made into a successful movie in 1964.
Knebel was married four times from 1935 to 1985. He committed suicide after a long bout with cancer, by taking an overdose of sleeping pills in his home in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1993. He is the source of the quote: "Smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics."
- Seven Days in May (1962) (described above).
- Convention (1964), also written with Bailey, about a woman from the Midwest who serves as a delegate at a major political convention.
- Night of Camp David (1965), about a President of the United States who may be insane.
- The Zin Zin Road (1966), about Peace Corps workers in Africa caught in a brewing revolution.
- Vanished! (1968), about the political repercussions arising from the sudden, mysterious disappearance of the top aide to the President of the United States during a contentious re-election campaign.
- Trespass (1969), about black militants taking over homes owned by rich whites and demanding that title be turned over to the militants as the first step in creating a black nation in the American South.
- Dark Horse (1972), about a minor official chosen to replace a Presidential candidate who died shortly before the election.
- Crossing in Berlin (1981), about an American man assisting an East German woman in escaping East Germany.
- Sabotage (1986), about sabotage of oil tankers by yakuzi organized crime figures.
In general, Knebel's works are products of the times in which they were written. For instance, the delegate in Convention changes her vote after learning that the candidate she had originally favored is using a computer to track personal information about the delegates. Vanished! involved concerns over superpower nuclear proliferation during the Cold War. Trespass revolves around black militancy of the type that faded in the late 1970s. Knebel was also a staunch liberal who was "suspicious of the size and power of the American military" and intelligence community, as he wrote in Dark Horse; many of his novels reflected that point of view. As representations of the concerns of the times in which they were written, Knebel's novels can provide valuable insight.