Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Douglas J. Wood’s Presidential Intentions: A Book Review

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Douglas J. Wood’s press team recently contacted me about reviewing his Samantha Harrison trilogy, so here we are. Published in 2014, the first novel, Presidential Intentions, follows the life of a fictional, moderate Republican presidential candidate Samantha Harrison and her run for office in 2016. The text creates a candidate that, at least at the time of composition, fills the post Obama niche as a member of the political right that can unify America’s moderate force and a natural lurch to the conservatism after Obama’s move to the left. While the political scene went a drastically different direction, the novel still holds merit.

At times the text dazzles, creating a unique character with an interesting vision of the world. Harrison is a strong, principled woman, a maverick in the true sense, and Wood crafts her with precision. The plot plays into the political machine, dabbling in the power brokers that create both low and high level political candidates, it dances around the election process, and exposes the deep seeds of political patriarchy. But the text focuses mostly on the candidate’s past, eschewing the majority of her political campaign for President of the United States outside of speech excerpts that start each chapter. Written with short chapters that dart across Harrison’s history, Wood struggles to paint a coherent vision for his novel. Was this book about a political insider and her rise or her marriage or her relationships with criminals she persecuted or running for president?

For a section of the book we enter covert terrorist operations, glaze over torture, and then discuss the moral merits of abortion. While some of the topics can be heavy handed, Wood does an admirable job of creating an interesting woman and keeping the reader plunging through the text in an effort to discover what will happen next. In doing so, he writes more of a prologue to a deeper story, one the next two novels aim to tell. If you are looking for a steady read and a dip into the world of politics, give the text a look. 

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