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Charles Avenue Henderson and Bruce Conn Clark shared a CIA mission in late November of 1963 that helped change the course of world history. When Henderson, now living the quiet life of a bed and breakfast owner with his beloved wife in rural West Virginia, approaches former Secretary of State Clark at a posh D.C. restaurant and suggests they let some of yesterday's secrets out today Clark responds with a plan that puts Henderson's life at risk and tests both of their dormant "spook" skills. Henderson underestimated the depth of Clark's secrets and Clark underestimated Henderson's resolve. It's a mistake that neither will make again as the old allies match cloaks and daggers against each other.
Ever reliable and responsible, Otis Halstead is a father, a husband (one half of a "well-dressed couple of substance"), and the CEO of Kansas Central Fire and Casualty. He has never done anything out of the ordinary. Until now.The change in Otis starts with an antique toy fire truck, the exact model he had pined for at age ten but never received. Though it is now a collectible costing $12,350, he will buy it-because he can. Next comes a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun, ordered from the Nostalgia Today catalog. A Kansas City Chiefs regulation NFL helmet follows. But Otis's real coup is the purchase of his one true childhood passion: a red 1952 Cushman Pacemaker motor scooter. For his baffled wife, Sally, this is the final straw. She insists that he see a shrink-a sloppy man with flowing hair who uses terms like "mature men in crisis" and "second childhood syndrome." Otis is unimpressed-and extremely insulted-by the doctor's insinuation that his baldness is to blame for his sudden interest in toys.But it's not until tragedy strikes uncomfortably close to home that Otis decides he wants out of his sensible, safe life in Eureka, Kansas. And so, a few weeks before his sixtieth birthday, Otis leaves town, heading west on old U.S. 56, a corporate CEO wearing a football helmet, riding a forty-year-old motor scooter, and with a BB gun strapped to the side. One might say he was in for an adventure. Otis would say he was finally about to experience life.Jim Lehrer has created an acute, laugh-out-loud, and endearing portrait of American middle age. With abundant wit and a sharp sense of the lives most of us lead, Eureka takes us on a journey through the unfulfilled dreams of childhood. In Otis Halstead, Lehrer has created his most brilliant and winning character to date.From the Hardcover edition.
With Flying Crows, veteran newsman and bestselling author Jim Lehrer has written his most powerful novel, a work that moves masterfully from past to present and back again to solve the mystery that is American mayhem.<P> In 1997, police discover an old homeless man in the Kansas City train station. "Birdie Carlucci" claims he has lived there since 1933, hiding out in the storeroom of a Harvey House restaurant. Kansas City cop Lieutenant Randy Benton decides to discover the truth behind Birdie' s tale--and finds himself on a ride that leads ever backward into our country's bloodstained past.<P> Benton's investigation reveals the story of young Birdie, incarcerated in a brutal insane asylum where the preferred method of treatment is beating with a baseball bat. In that hopeless environment, though, he's befriended by another patient, Josh Lancaster, once dismissed as a lost cause but snatched back from the brink by a compassionate doctor. But what is the secret of Lancaster's involvement in an infamous Civil War encounter between Confederate bushwhackers and Union soldiers? And what truly happened after Birdie escaped from the asylum on the famous Flying Crow train?<P> As Benton returns to the present day, he wonders: How much, if any of it, really took place? What were the true public and private traumas of these two troubled men who can't forget what they've seen or merely imagined?<P> Inspired by real events, Flying Crows is a novel that moves as inexorably as a train in the night to a shattering conclusion--one that reveals the many meanings of imprisonment and escape, and all the eccentricities and tragedies of the American soul.
"Three may keep a secret if two of 'em are dead."-Poor Richard's Almanack[pg. 27 of mss]R Taylor arrives in Philadelphia for the funeral of his longtime friend Dr. Wally Rush with a heavy heart. Not only has the world lost one of its preeminent, Pulitzer Prize--winning American Revolution historians, but R has lost his mentor, the man who led him to devote his life's work to the study of "The First American," Benjamin Franklin. The bond between them was sealed when R did Wally a favor that could never be revealed. But Wally saved one final secret for R, disclosed in a letter conveyed by the will's executor.Written in the slow, painful script of the professor's last days, the note delivers an incredible bombshell. Wally, it seems, had stumbled upon twelve handwritten pages in a code commonly used by spies during the revolutionary war. The pages refer to George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, and level a shocking charge-that Benjamin Franklin committed a heinous crime.Wally, not wanting to foul the image of his lifelong hero, had kept this monumental secret until his death. But as R races to unravel the mystery, he faces an onslaught of obstacles. Vicious blackmail, a threat of sabotage against his own career, and grave personal doubts threaten to overtake R as he struggles with a discovery that has the potential to completely alter the fabric of American history. Rich with revelations, rife with the darkest depths of deceit and mystery, and enlightened by the unparalleled insights of America's first patriots, The Franklin Affair is a tense, constantly surprising novel about the ultimate quest for truth and justice.From the Hardcover edition.
sharp satire of the presidential debate that changes the course of electoral politics (and the news business) forever--by Jim Lehrer, who has been a moderator of past presidential debates. The targets of this satire--religious fundamentalists, political handlers, self-important journalists, feral network programming heads--could not be more timely.
On a ridge overlooking Burnside Bridge--the focus of the Battle of Antietam--souvenir hunters find the unmarked grave of an unknown Union officer. Don Spaniel, an archeologist in the National Park Service, is called in to examine the remains. He soon discovers that the officer was murdered and that his identification disk could not possibly belong to him, since its rightful owner is buried elsewhere. So who was this officer? Where did he come from? And why was he killed?Spaniel's obsessive investigation leads not only to his reliving the horrible carnage that occurred at Burnside Bridge over a century before, but to the true identity of the Union officer and the reason why another body resides in his grave in a small New England town.In a swift narrative deftly combining the past with the present, Jim Lehrer has created an engrossing story that will appeal to a wide variety of readers.From the Hardcover edition.
A talented athlete, Johnny Wrigley believes that someday he will play major league baseball. But his life unexpectedly takes a detour. In April 1944, Johnny is a newly minted marine on a troop train heading west for California, where he will be shipped overseas to fight in the Pacific Theater. At a brief stop in Wichita, Johnny gets off the train and falls in love with the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. In a storeroom at the station, they share an intimacy that Johnny will treasure for the next two years at war--and beyond.In Peleliu and Okinawa, nothing prepares Johnny for the terrible events that will haunt him forever. During fierce combat, inspiring thoughts of Betsy Luck (the name Johnny has given his Kansas love) keep him safe. Two years later, Johnny is back in Wichita, searching for the girl he wants to marry. But fate has different plans for Johnny, his long-dreamed-of baseball career, and the girl whose memory helped him survive.
Veteran newsman and acclaimed novelist Jim Lehrer exposes worlds both intimate and universal, builds suspense with an accomplished hand, and reveals a savvy understanding of the modern social landscape. With The Phony Marine, Lehrer dives into a highly controversial topic-and delivers his most compelling character portrait to date.Hugo Marder is about as unremarkable as they come. On the floor of the Washington, D.C., branch of Nash Brothers, one of the country's most respected men's stores, Hugo is a wise, reserved salesman. At home, he is a solitary, divorced fifty-year-old with few friends and an eBay addiction. But he has always wanted to make more of his life, dreaming of becoming an artist or a cartoonist. When he was younger, he'd always wanted to be a marine.Late one night, Hugo stumbles upon an online auction for a Silver Star, the medal awarded for bravery in battle. He bids and wins. But it is only after he places the lapel pin on his jacket that he realizes the enormity of his actions. Suddenly, ordinary people begin to treat him differently, with dignity and respect. Is he really going to pretend the honor is his own?As Hugo wrestles with his conscience, a transformation begins to take place. He studies the life of a marine, learns the military terminology, body-builds at the gym, even gets a crew cut. When he is reborn as a former marine, his life immediately changes. Is it possible that his deception has unlocked the man he always wanted to be? Through numerous challenges and more than one terrifying ordeal, Hugo Marder must prove his worth. And in the end, he must ask himself: What is a hero?Alive with detail, emotional depth, and unexpected twists of plot, The Phony Marine is a tense, revelatory work of fiction that will cause every reader to consider his or her own stance on what truly makes someone great.From the Hardcover edition.
Washington, D.C., is a town full of powerful people with powerful, often conflicting agendas, and no one knows this better than Jim Lehrer, the preeminent capital newscaster and novelist. His new book is a witty, provocative political mystery about power play and favor swapping at the highest levels of government, written with his own unique blend of political savvy and irreverent humor. Joshua Bennett has just been nominated by the president to be the new director of the CIA. He's the ideal candidate, and everyone agrees his confirmation hearing should be a mere formality. But this is Washington, where nothing as straightforward as choosing the most qualified person for a crucial job can be counted upon. Unfortunately for Bennett, someone's political agenda hinges on his confirmation being vetoed, but he's damned if he can find out whose. In need of good covert help he can trust, Bennett turns to a little known but highly efficient cadre of former CIA spies living in semiretirement in nearby West Virginia. This odd team of sixty-plus-year-old spooks, boasting a combined array of exceptional if eccentric and largely illegal talents, embarks upon a wildly unorthodox Washington power struggle that is no less earnest for being conducted in absolute secrecy. And most secret of all is the highly coveted purple dot--the ultimate national perk. Following the enormous breakout success of Lehrer's bestselling previous novel, White Widow, Purple Dots will fascinate and amuse even more readers, while confirming their worst fears about how our government really operates.
Following the enormous success of his two bestselling previous novels, White Widow and Purple Dots, Jim Lehrer takes on a new and controversial subject in this ambitious story about an American soldier who, many years after the fact, is forced to relive his harrowing experience in the Second World War. The Special Prisoner takes its title from the designation the Japanese government gave U.S. airmen held prisoner during World War II--an indication of the severity with which these foreign devils responsible for bombing Japanese cities were to be treated. John Quincy Watson was a skilled young pilot flying B-29s over Japan when he was shot down and taken prisoner in 1945. Fifty years later, now a prominent religious figure nearing retirement, Bishop Watson believes he has long since overcome the excruciating memories of his months as a POW. But a chance sighting of the now equally elderly Japanese officer who repeatedly tortured him instantly transports the Bishop back to that unendurable time, and he finds himself overwhelmed by an uncontrollable desire for vengeance. The result for Watson is both a vivid return to the horrors of his past and the triggering of a new series of events that are also horrific--and tragic. Engaging and emotionally poignant, The Special Prisoner delves into the complicated issue of war guilt and forgiveness, starkly portrayed in the characters of an officer from a country that refuses to admit any wrongdoing and a clergyman who is committed to a belief that to forgive is divine. This is new and controversial territory for Lehrer, and he treats it with passion and respect, while writing in the highly readable, engaging style that is his trademark. This fascinating story of what's fair in war--and what's fair afterward--is a dramatic new novel from the veteran Washington author and newscaster.
April 1956: Climbing aboard the Sante Fe railroad's famous Super Chief is an amazing spectrum of passengers. There's Darwin Rinehart, a once great Hollywood producer who now faces bankruptcy. In a dark recess of a train car hides a mysterious, disheveled man who has not paid for a ticket, smuggled inside by an unscrupulous porter. Millionaire Otto Wheeler arrives in a wheelchair; deathly ill, he knows that this will be his last trip on the great train. Clark Gable causes a stir when he steps aboard, and though he's ridden these rails for years, indulging in booze and women with equal fervor, those around him sense that this time, something is different. And finally there's former President Harry Truman, distinguished, congenial, and constantly accompanied by a railroad detective.As the Super Chief pulls out of Dearborn Station, the passengers--famous and infamous, anonymous and enigmatic--can't possibly imagine what lies ahead. For as the train gains speed, a series of deadly events unfolds. booze and women with equal fervor, those around him sense that this time, something is different. And finally there's former President Harry Truman, distinguished, congenial, and constantly accompanied, for his protection, by a railroad detective. As the Super Chief pulls out of Dearborn Station, the passengers--famous and infamous, anonymous and enigmatic--can't possibly imagine what lies ahead. For as the train gains speed, a series of deadly events unfolds. Full of remarkable detail and passion for a lost world of opulence and all its intrigue and delights, Jim Lehrer's Super spins a complex web of suspense. The twists and turns will keep readers turning the pages at top speed to finish one of the most captivating stories of Lehrer's prolific career.From the Hardcover edition.
"In his quiet but intense way, Jim Lehrer earns the trust of the major political players of our time," notes Barbara Walters. "He explains and exposes their hopes and dreams, their strengths and failures as they try to put their best foot forward."From the man widely hailed as "the Dean of Moderators" comes a lively and revealing book that pulls back the curtain on more than forty years of televised political debate in America. A veteran newsman who has presided over eleven presidential and vice-presidential debates, Jim Lehrer gives readers a ringside seat for some of the epic political battles of our time, shedding light on all of the critical turning points and rhetorical faux pas that helped determine the outcome of America's presidential elections--and with them the course of history. Drawing on his own experiences as "the man in the middle seat," in-depth interviews with the candidates and his fellow moderators, and transcripts of key exchanges, Lehrer isolates and illuminates what he calls the "Major Moments" and "killer questions" that defined the debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain.Oftentimes these moments involve the candidates themselves and are seared into our collective political memory. Michael Dukakis stumbles badly over a question about the death penalty. Dan Quayle compares himself to John F. Kennedy once too often. Barack Obama and John McCain barely make eye contact over the course of a ninety-minute discussion. At other times, the debate moderators themselves become part of the story--and Lehrer is there to give us a backstage look at the drama. Peter Jennings suggests surprising the candidates by suspending the carefully negotiated rules minutes before the 1988 presidential debate--to the consternation of his fellow panelists. Lehrer himself weathers a firestorm of criticism over his performance as moderator of the 2000 Bush-Gore debate. And then there are the excruciating moments when audio lines go dead and TelePrompTers stay dark just seconds before going on the air live in front of a worldwide television audience of millions.Asked to sum up his experience as a participant in high-level televised debates, President George H. W. Bush memorably likened them to an evening in "tension city." In Jim Lehrer's absorbing insider account, we find out that truer words were never spoken.
In a riveting novel rooted in one of American history's great "what ifs," Jim Lehrer tells the story of two men haunted by the events leading up to John F. Kennedy's assassination. November 22, 1963. As Air Force One touches down in Dallas, ambitious young newspaper reporter Jack Gilmore races to get the scoop on preparations for President Kennedy's motorcade. Will the bubble top on the presidential limousine be up or down? Down, according to veteran Secret Service agent Van Walters. The decision to leave the top down and expose JFK to fire from above will weigh on Van's conscience for decades. But will it also change the course of history? Five years after the assassination, Jack gets an anguished phone call from Van's daughter Marti. Van Walters is ravaged by guilt, so convinced that his actions led to JFK's death that he has lost the will to live. In a desperate bid to deliver her father from his demons, Marti enlists Jack's help in a risky reenactment designed to prove once and for all what would have happened had the bubble top stayed in place on that grim November day. For Jack, it's a chance to break a once-in-a-lifetime story that could make his career. But for Van the stakes are even higher. The outcome of a ballistics test conducted on the grounds of a secluded estate in upstate New York might just save his life--or push him over the edge. A page-turning historical novel with the beating heart of a thriller, Top Down could only have sprung from the fertile imagination of Jim Lehrer. Drawing on his own experience as an eyewitness to the events described, one of America's most respected journalists has crafted an engrossing story out of the emotional aftershocks of a national tragedy. PRAISE FOR JIM LEHRER Super "Sheer delights . . . combines the rolling suspense of Murder on the Orient Express with the high jinks of [Lehrer's] lighter novels."--The Kansas City Star Oh, Johnny "A warmhearted evocation of the road not taken."--Kirkus Reviews Eureka "A nutty, likable romp [that] quickly takes on a deeper resonance that is certain to please readers . . . quite moving."--The Washington Post The Phony Marine "A story of emotional depth and unexpected twists of plot . . . [Lehrer] delivers a convincing and compelling story."--The Oklahoman The Franklin Affair "A serious-minded yet breezy detective story . . . perfectly suited to beach reading and deep enough to raise lasting questions about life, liberty and the pursuit of historical accuracy."--The Miami Herald
Praised by the New York Times Book Review as "an...affecting morality tale," Jim Lehrer's devastating White Widow brings the reader to the brink of one man's unstoppable, ruinous passion for a complete stranger. Jack T. Oliver has a solid marriage, a cozy house in Corpus Christi, and a job he loves as a driver for the Great Western Trailways bus line. In a few weeks, Jack is going to be promoted to Master Operator in recognition of his years of perfect service and on-time driving. It's a good life. Until a White Widow boards his bus, on a one-way ticket from Victoria to Corpus Christi. A White Widow is a wild card, a woman traveling alone who can change the course of a driver's life, and not always for the best. What happens when Jack Oliver's White Widow passes through his life is as unforgettable as it is irrevocable. Within weeks, without ever even learning her name, he will fall passionately in love-and lose everything he has, a few things he never had, and some he never thought about until they were gone.