Advise & Consent

ISBN: 1562080008
ISBN 13: 9781562080006
By: Allen Drury

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Reader's Thoughts

Michael Austin

Though it reeks of the Cold War, Advise and Consent has a number of surprisingly modern themes. It treated Mormonism, homosexuality, and the politics of personal destruction before any of the three had an official “moment.” It was the bestselling novel of 1959, and a Pulitzer Prize winner to boot. And, for all that, it has not been in print for years. Advise and Consent tells the story of a controversial political nomination. A dying president names Robert Leffingwell—a well-known liberal, a professor, and a supporter of engagement with the Soviet Union—to be the new Secretary of State. A number of powerful senators immediately object, and, during the hearings, he is accused of hiding a Communist past. As the nomination plays out, Utah’s earnest Senator Brigham Anderson, who holds the nomination in his hands, is blackmailed by somebody aware of his homosexual past. Things, of course, go drastically astray. The most important character in the book, though, is the United States Senate itself, which Drury treats with reverence. The Senators disagree with each other, but are able to do so in a cordial way, until one senator breaks ranks with the august body and stoops to blackmail. He is the only real villain in the novel, and, once he is exorcised, the democratic process of disagreement, debate, and compromise produces a desirable result.

Eric Ruark

I remember being mesmerized by this series. In fact, I think it was the first 'series' of books that I read, or at least, became aware of.

Bob Almond

Outstanding political novel that was the start of series of novels picking up where the last left off and in one case splitting depending on the identity of the victim. All in all a great read with good character development but twists and turns that kept you turning the pages.

Maze Branch

Donna led this discussion on 11/15/12.One patron participated in this discussion. We both enjoyed the book very much and had a worthwhile discussion on both the book and the movie. The movie is faithful to the book for the most part with alterations mostly for length. While not written as a fictionalized version of history, the author uses historical events (which he witnessed as a Washington journalist) as inspiration for some of the characters and events. When you know the facts behind this fiction you realize that "it really could happen here." Significant characters are reminiscent of Franklin Roosevelt, Alger Hiss, and Joseph McCarthy.


The winner of the 1960 Pulitzer Prize, this novel paints an interesting picture of the workings of American Government in the late 50's. Drury does a great job of building characters and follows the Presidential appointment confirmation process through the eyes of four different Senators. Interesting plot twists set against the background of the Cold War and Space Race make for an interesting read.


Read this oldie many years ago, and always wanted to read it again. Finally finished it, and it's a wonderful book. Still pertinent today, even though it was written in the 50's. It's very long, and there are 5 more books in the series. I managed to find them all through Abebooks, so I have lots of reading to do!


This is rather long, and not the most fun read in the world, but it was really interesting, hence the good rating. It's a look at the inner workings of Washington politics, so it's no surprise that as someone who has limited patience for politics, it alternated between tedious and fascinating. The books set in the 1950s that I typically read are about racial tensions or the role of women, so I enjoyed seeing another side of that era that I was unfamiliar with (especially since it was not just set, but written at that time). I also appreciated that although there were certainly some aspects of the story that seemed (mostly thankfully) out-dated, most of the central issues seemed very current.

Bill Peacock

I have been aware of Allen Drury for sometime because I had one of sequels to Advise and Consent in my bookshelf--it was originally from my mother's library. When I saw that National Review listed Advise and Consent as one of the best conservative novels, I decided I had to read it. Since I didn't have a copy, I started with what I did have, its sequel, Preserve and Protect. That meant when I did read Advise and Consent, I already knew the ultimate outcome of the story. It wasn't a bad way to read it, though i think I'd recommend the traditional order. Not because I knew the outcome of the story so much as I knew how one of the characters came to change over time. And I found I couldn't dislike him as much as I might have otherwise. Of course, not intensely disliking someone has its benefits, so I am not complaining. But whatever order in which you read them, if you are at all interested in the culture and politics of our country, you ought to read Advise and Consent. It tells us that the battle of truth versus lies is not new to 21st century politics. And that while there appears to be one side that favors truth more than another, neither side is pure. An interesting aspect of the story is that the battle over truth is largely fought within the Democratic party. Truth prevails in Advise and Consent, though at great cost. Of course, this is always true. Truth always prevails, and because of our fallen nature there is always a great cost in this process. We see this in the political battles of our day. And we see it in our families and personal lives. All of this is on display in Advise and Consent. If you are interested in seeing a great rendition of the impact of truth and lies in politics and in life, you should read Advise and Consent.

Geo Forman

Certainly readable but important to remember all the fears associated with USSR at the time of publication, mid-50s. Obviously written to reveal the inner workings of the senate, if only it worked as well now. No mention of lobbyists and frequent bipartisan cooperation. I liked the way the author moved from one main character to another to tell his story from different perspectives, majority leader, older statesman, established senator with designs on presidency.

Jim Puskas

To fairly evaluate this book, one must bear in mind that it was written in 1959. Although that was hardly a time of naiive idealism, being the middle of the Cold War, our North American view of the world has surely undergone considerable loss of innocence since then. I thought it a great book in its time, probably THE preeminent political novel. In my mind it remains so today, but re-reading it this year was a far different experience. The political dance in Washington continues of course but our world has changed forever and in some ways the rules of the game are much less clear-cut than they were in 1959. Events including the Kennedy assasination, the Vietnam War, the collapse of the Soviet empire, 911, the current economic and political malaise have changed all that.I wonder what sort of book Allen Drury would write now, given his focus on the moral dilemmas faced by politicians. Already with "Capable of Honor" and "A Shade of Difference" his outlook seemed to be growing more cynical.A great human drama forms the arch of the story and that is its strength. No one could fail to be touched by the vicious and tragic destruction of a decent, courageous, implacably principled man. On the whole, the book is so well written that it survives in spite of very serioust weakness in last few pages; notably the amateurish depiction of the last confrontation with the Soviet Ambassador and the somewhat silly notion (in retrospect) that a Soviet landing on the moon would represent a serious danger to the USA. Again, one must remember that in 1959 the world was very different from today.


Very interesting look at how the government works. Well written.


I can see why this was rated so highly at the time the time that it was written -- Drury's Washington characters were rich and well-drawn. As a Washingtonian myself, I think his ability to capture the different kinds of personal and political influences that move this town was insightful and entertaining. However, the book hinges on the what I believed, even as a middle schooler in the 60s, was a hysterical fear of the Soviets based on a testosterone-driven pissing match. As a progressive, I found the depiction of the non-aggression obsessed senator in question as a genuine threat to the country less than believable. On the other hand, to give Drury his due, the story continues today on Fox News.....

John Smith

Up until I picked up this book, I had never read or even attempted anything this big. I thought reading a book 400 pages was great, but to go to 600, I doubted I'd stick it out. There was no way it could keep me interested for that long. Wrong. I couldn't put this book down, I lost track of page numbers after about 50 pages and only saw the story unfold around me and I had no hurry of it ending.This is in my top 3 books read of all time, which isn't a large group of books, but I have a feeling it will stick in that range for a long time to come. Setting the bar for books I read after it.

Mia Kleve

Fascinating political thriller.This isn't usually the kind of book that I find myself picking up, but I have to say that after a slow start I had no trouble getting into it. And if you are interested at all in the inner workings of government, then you should definitely read this one.The book follows the process of the President of the United States nominating a candidate for the position of Secretary of State, and the Senate confirmation hearings, and a set of scandals which could derail the whole works.What I found most interesting about this book was the way that Allen Drury was able to write this story in the late '50's and have it be relevant today. Except for a few outdated methods of news reporting and communication the events int his book could have happened today, or yesterday, or tomorrow.

Frank Cahill

Gripping and intriguing look inside the Senate. Well written Pulitzer winner. Must read for those who enjoy good stories with a political background.

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