“A nuanced portrait, with the full range of Nixon, from the bizarre
and terrifying to the comic figure he really was.”
-- Stanley Kutler, leading Nixon historian
It is 1962 and there are children at play in the White House for the first time since the presidency of William Howard Taft.
Richard Nixon, the vigorous 49-year-old president, has been in office less than two years, having won election by a razor-thin margin over Senator John Kennedy.
In Moscow, the wildly unpredictable Nikita Khrushchev is looking forward to visiting his cherished revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro. Just 90 miles from American shores, Khrushchev will announce an audacious and dangerous nuclear stunt to abruptly shift the balance of power—a secretly-built network of missiles across Cuba that put American cities in the atomic crosshairs.
But President Nixon has his own announcement planned. A U.S. spy plane has discovered the missiles being set up in Cuba and Nixon will soon address the nation to announce his response.
Meanwhile, First Lady Pat Nixon is in California to look at a San Clemente house the first couple may purchase. Seeing shoppers crowd around a store-window television, Pat gets her first inkling of trouble. Dick has always insisted she not listen to the news and she is happy, for now, to return to her correspondence.
In the coming days, the confrontation between the U.S. and its nuclear foe will escalate. The president will weigh his determination to overthrow Castro against the risk of all-out war as Pat struggles to reconcile her sense of a wife’s proper role with her estrangement from the man who thrust her into a public life she despises.
About the Author
Harvey Simon is a freelance writer living in Washington, DC. His articles have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, the History News Network and elsewhere. Before moving to Washington he was a national security analyst at Harvard University, where he also wrote about other public policy issues. The Madman Theory (Sept. 18, 2012, Rosemoor Press) is Simon’s debut novel. Its release coincides with the 50th anniversary of the most dangerous event in U.S. history – the Cuban Missile Crisis. Simon received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and has an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.