Man of Destiny by Martin L. Gross, USA, 1997

Written by a man who has spent much of his life criticizing the waste and corruption that has become the hallmark of contemporary governments, this is an informative and, at times, frustrating book. I use the word frustrating, because, although we are well aware of the situation we are unable to do anything to change it.

In Man of Destiny, Charles Palmer, an ordinary IT worker, is propelled into the top position in America. Although not initially a contender for the presidency, Palmer is spurred on by a genuine concern for his country. Running as an independent, he soon realizes that he is on the same wavelength as the people, but the two major parties are colluding to stop him – by fair means or foul.

The novel is not a major literary event, but it does offer thoughtful and well researched ideas and facts, and it gives an easily absorbed picture of the American electoral system. The main characters are more or less believable, and the pace of the novel is such that interest is maintained from the first to the last page. We may possibly feel that the many underhand plots against Palmer's reputation, and even his life, are something that would find more credibility in a B-class movie, but when we look around us we realize that this, unfortunately, is how it is, especially when power, status and money are all at stake. In the race for the top job, Gross makes it very clear that, for most politicians, a desire to do something worthwhile for one's country is certainly not the number one priority.

As Gross writes on page 120, '… his (Palmer's) enemy was not Nazism, or Communism. It was American bureaucratic and political insensitivity, the unprincipled waste of people's money, and the distortion of the campaign and election process. It wasn't democracy that was failing. It was politics'. Definitely a book worth reading.

Photo of Martin L. Gross from