Dewey Defeats Truman, by Thomas Mallon

Seven stars

Returning for another Thomas Mallon novel, I hoped to to amazed with a telling story set against the backdrop of a political situation that ties things all together. The year is 1948 and the United States is in presidential election mode. With Truman in the White House, it is time for the electorate to pass judgment on him, as he ascended to the post when FDR died in office. The stage is set and Truman does not seem all that sure that he can pull it off. Things turn to Owosso, Michigan, hometown of the Republican candidate, Thomas Dewey. The locals are gearing up and there are stirrings about the local boy making his way into the Oval Office, going so far as to prepare for being a new ‘must see’ spot for tourists. As the months pass, it is simply a waiting game for the all but coronation of Dewey as POTUS. On the local front, Anne Macmurray is swept up, not in the political fervour, but with two men who seek her heart. One, a wealthy Republican who is as confident as he is determined, seeks to woo Anne, while showing her what connections can do. The other, a former soldier turned United Auto Workers organizer who has a flame burning inside him and seeks to ensure the underdog is never forgotten. As spring and summer turn to autumn, the choice will have to b made. Who will Anne choose and how will she come to the decision? Will Dewey’s momentum be able to carry him into the White House, leaving Truman in the dust? The knowledgeable reader knows the answer to at least one of these, but Mallon is never one to write without a significant twist. A decent piece of fiction with gritty political undertones, though not my favourite of the author’s work.

This is the first time I have sat down to physically read Mallon. The other of his novels I have allowed an audiobook reader guide me, which might be why I am less than enthused. I made my way through this piece, eager for the development of the plot—personal and political—but left feeling less than enthralled. There is surely a great deal of banter in this book, as Owosso residents cheer on their local boy and await his arrival on the campaign trail, but I felt lost in trying to connect with any of the three characters who play roles in this love triangle. Mallon uses long chapters to tell his story and pulls the reader in many directions, peppering politics with post-War American development. A few young characters seek to define themselves throughout the narrative, with a core few mentioned above. It may be I who is at fault for not liking this one, though I have seen others echo my sentiments. Still, I know authors cannot please everyone all the time. I am simply happy this was not the first Mallon I ever tried. I have a few more I would like to attempt down the road. Perhaps I was looking for more bang for my buck. Apt to use in reference to this novel, ‘The buck stops here!’. It most truly did!

Kudos, Mr. Mallon, for an attempt to pull me in. It did not work as well as I would have liked, but I cannot fault you entirely for this.

This book fulfils the February 2020 requirement of the Mind the Bookshelf Gap reading challenge.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: