Saturday, January 28, 2017
FELLOW TRAVELERS - Thomas Mallon
'It's the 1950's Washington, D.C.: a world of bare knuckled ideology and secret dossiers, dominated by personalities like Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, and Joe McCarthy. Enter Timothy Laughlin, a recent college graduate and devout Catholic eager to join the crusade against Communism. An encounter with a handsome State Department official, Hawkins Fuller, leads to Tim's first job and, after Fullers advances, his first love affair.
As McCarthy mounts an urgent bid for power and internal investigations focus on " sexual subversives" in the government. Tim and Fuller find it ever more dangerous to navigate their double lives."
Although the above blurb mentions Nixon, Johnson and others they play no part in the story apart from the fact they are wandering around doing things at the same time as the events that this novel focuses on. The focus is on McCarthy's hearings regarding the "risk to security" homosexuals poised to the US Government.
McCarthy was a ludicrous vile man, his actions lead to people being summarily dismissed from jobs for simple going to the "wrong type of bar " for a drink. His hounding drove people to suicide; he was allowed to continue this persecution for many years.
The love affair between Tim and Hawkins is intertwined with these hearings as they both work for persons intimately involved in them. Of necessity their relationship has to be kept secret or their careers would be over.
The book has actual transcription from hearings which are interesting; the machinations behind the scenes, the deal making and of abuse of power is fully on display.
Without the inside information about power broking in Washington the relationship trials and tribulations of Tim and Hawkins would be very ordinary. Large doses of Catholic guilt and manipulation by one partner and wouldn't sustain any reader interest on its own but as a slice of life of this time its worth reading.
The author lives in Washington and knows of what he writes. He's a very interesting man in his own right.