Book - 2019
From "a master of the historical novel" (Newsweek), whose fiction "unfolds with the urgency of a thriller" (The New Yorker), the tumultuous--at once witty and sad--chronicle of George W. Bush's second term, as his aspirations toward greatness are thrown into upheaval by the twin catastrophes of Iraq and Katrina. Landfall has at its center a president whose high-speed shifts between charm and petulance, resoluteness and self-pity, continually energize and mystify those ar...ound him--including his acerbic and crafty mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush; the desperately correct but occasionally unbuttoned Condoleezza Rice; the gnomic and manipulative Donald Rumsfeld; and the caustic observer Ann Richards (Bush's predecessor as governor of Texas). A gallery of political and media figures, from the widowed Nancy Reagan to the philandering John Edwards to the brilliantly contrarian Christopher Hitchens, bring the novel and the era to life. The story is deepened and driven by two West Texans: Ross Weatherall and Allison O'Connor, whose destinies have been affixed to Bush's since they were teenagers in the 1970s; a true believer and skeptic who end up exchanging ideological places in a romantic and political drama that unfolds in locations from New Orleans to Baghdad, and during the parties, press conferences and state funerals of Washington, D. C. Landfall is the culmination of a contemporary epic whose previous volumes (Watergate and Finale) have been repeatedly singled out as outstanding novels of the years in which they appeared.
*Starred Review* The conclusion to a loose trilogy that includes Watergate (2012) and Finale (2015), Mallon's latest incisive, historically themed novel centers on George W. Bush's second term. It provides an insider's view of how his ambitious agenda gets derailed by the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina and the inept federal response to it. Mallon demonstrates great skill in animating a large cast of prominent personalities, with characterizations ranging from cheekily funny (the banter between Larry King and former Texas governor Ann Richards) to biting (the good-looking, self-interested John Edwards) to deeply empathetic. Readers will find some nods to today's political dramas; for instance, Brett Kavanaugh makes several appearances. Witty conversation ensues as scenes shift between meetings, speeches, elegant dinners, and other domestic and international gatherings, while the depiction of flooded New Orleans is starkly sobering. Against this anxious backdrop, Bush's moods swing from confidence to uncertainty, and two fictional characters, prickly NSC staffer Allison O'Connor and Ross Weatherall, a new federal administrator responsible for updating WPA guidebooks, interact with the real-life figures. Their viewpoints and romance are shaped by their opposing reactions to Bush's policies and their on-the-ground experiences. Mallon's latest fictional portrayal of the American political scene is impressively detailed and enticingly readable. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.Review by Library Journal Reviews
Mallon, whose award-worthy investigations of significant American figures range from Henry and Clara to Dewey Defeats Truman, here focuses on George W. Bush getting walloped by Iraq and Hurricane Katrina even as he contends with his sharp-tongued mother, Texas comrades, and the twin forces of Rumsfeld and Rice. With a five-city tour. Copyright 2018 Library Journal.Review by PW Annex Reviews
In his fantastic latest, Mallon (Finale) recreates the political events of George W. Bush's years as president—and their impact on Washington, D.C., and the world—so meticulously that they hardly seem the stuff of a fictional narrative. Spanning the decades from 1978, when the future president made a failed congressional bid, to his penultimate year in the White House in 2007, the novel gives dramatic scope and heft to incidents that defined his presidency post-9/11, especially America's invasion of Iraq in 2003 and Hurricane Katrina's ravaging of New Orleans in 2005. (The characters consider the administration's management of these two events somewhat similar.) Mallon provides juicy, humanized depictions of interactions between the familiar talking heads of state—including moments of disdainful disregard between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and between the president and his v-p—that will leave readers wondering how much of what he portrays is imagined. And he uses the personal evasion and deception that challenge the amorous relationship between invented characters Ross Weatherall, a disillusioned director for the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, and Allison O'Connor, a key Iraq negotiator in the president's National Security Council, as a lens through which to scrutinize the political strategies of the era. This novel makes a fascinating flesh-and-blood spectacle out of moments now relegated to history. (Feb.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly Annex.
The award-winning author of Watergate reimagines the turbulent second term and political relationships of a mercurial President George W. Bush from the perspectives of two West Texans with disparate ideological views.Review by Publisher Summary 2
Set during the tumultuous middle of the George W. Bush years'amid the twin catastrophes of the Iraq insurgency and Hurricane Katrina'Landfall brings Thomas Mallon's cavalcade of contemporary American politics, which began with Watergate and continue with Finale, to a vivid and emotional climax.The president at the novel's center possesses a personality whose high-speed alternations between charm and petulance, resoluteness and self-pity, continually energize and mystify the panoply of characters around him. They include his acerbic, crafty mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush; his desperately correct and eager-to-please secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice; the gnomic and manipulative Donald Rumsfeld; foreign leaders from Tony Blair to Vladimir Putin; and the caustic one-woman chorus of Ann Richards, Bush's predecessor as governor of Texas. A gallery of political and media figures, from the widowed Nancy Reagan to the philandering John Edwards to the brilliantly contrarian Christopher Hitchens, bring the novel and the era to life.The story is deepened and driven by a love affair between two West Texans, Ross Weatherall and Allison O'Connor, whose destinies have been affixed to Bush's since they were teenagers in the 1970s. The true believer and the skeptic who end up exchanging ideological places in a romantic and political drama that unfolds in locations from New Orleans to Baghdad and during the parties, press conferences, and state funerals of Washington, D.C.