The Man (Wallace novel)

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The Man
First edition
Author Irving Wallace
Subject United States -- Politics and government -- Fiction.
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover, Softcover)
Pages 766
OCLC 711242
LC Class PZ4.W1875 Man PS3573.A426

The Man is a 1964 novel by Irving Wallace that speculatively explores the socio-political consequences in U.S. society when a Black man becomes President of the United States. The novel's title derives from the contemporary — fifties, sixties, seventies — American slang English, "The Man".

Plot summary[edit]

The Man was written before the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It depicts a political situation in which the office of Vice Presidency is vacant due to the incumbent's death. While overseas in Germany, the President and the Speaker of the House are in a freak accident; the President is killed, the Speaker of the House later dies in surgery. The Presidency then devolves onto Douglass Dilman, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, a black man earlier elected to that office in deference to his race. Dilman's presidency is challenged by white racists, black political activists, and an attempted assassination. Later, he is impeached on false charges for firing the United States Secretary of State. One of his children, who is "passing" for white, is targeted and harassed. At the end of the book the protagonist - though having credibly dealt with considerable problems during his Presidency and gained some popularity - does not consider running for re-election.

Allusions and references to current history, geography, and science[edit]

The impeachment trial of President Douglass Dilman closely parallels[citation needed] that of President Andrew Johnson (at the time the only Presidential impeachment proceedings to reach the articles stage, before Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998).

Commercial Reception[edit]

The Man was a major commercial success: it spent 38 weeks (peaking at #2) on the New York Times best seller list.[1] It became the fifth-highest selling novel of the year.[2]

Film Adaptation[edit]

In 1972, the novel was adapted as the motion picture The Man, featuring James Earl Jones as President Douglas Dilman.


  1. ^ "Adult New York Times Best Seller Lists for 1964". Retrieved February 1, 2017. 
  2. ^ "20th-Century American Bestsellers 1960s". University of Virginia. 2016. Retrieved February 1, 2017.