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896 pages, Paperback
First published November 15, 1971
Roosevelt sighed, smoothed his thin rumpled gray hair, and rolled himself to his desk. Victor Henry now noticed that the President did not use an ordinary invalid's wheelchair, but an odd piece of gear, a sort of kitchen chair on wheels, in and out of which he could easily slide himself. 'Golly, the sun's going down, and it's still sweltering in here.' Roosevelt sounded suddenly weary, as he contemplated papers piled on the desk. 'Isn't it about time for a drink? Would you like a martini? I'm supposed to mix a passable martini.'
The muddy narrow streets of Medzice – it had rained hard during the night, and the rattling on the rabbi's roof had increased Byron's sensed of snugness – were filled with an autumnal fragrance of hay and ripening fruit, made more tangy by the smells of the free-roaming ducks, chickens, goats, and calves. Some of the fowl were encountering tragedy, happily strutting in the morning sunshine one moment, and the next swooped down upon by laughing children and carried off squawking and flapping to be slaughtered. In the fields beyond the outlying houses and barns – mostly one-room log structures with heavy yellow thatch roofs – cows and horses grazed in tall waving grass spotted with wild flowers. Water bugs skated on the surface of the slow-moving brown river. Fish jumped and splashed, but nobody was fishing.
The players in our drama were now scattered around the earth. Their stage had become the planet, turning in the solar spotlight that illuminated half the scene at a time, and that moved always from east to west.
“He can compete with the worst of television because he is the worst of television, without the commercials,” Stanley Edgar Hyman wrote, when he described Mr. Wouk’s readers as “yahoos who hate culture and the mind.”