“We shall find such men, we shall find them in every country. We shall not need to bribe them. They will come of their own accord. Ambition and delusion, party squabbles and self-seeking arrogance will drive them.”
I don’t write with headlines in mind. There are no winking, sneaky caricatures of real people in my books. The stories I write are themselves gripping and bleak enough, and fiction can get at truths the headlines don’t have time for. Through narrative, stories and character fiction reveals truth.
The books I write are not about Trump per se. He is a symptom, or better, a marker pointing to a deeper, deadly disease. The books are pacy thrillers. I’ve chosen that medium to write about what afflicts us, striving to make sense and, as Oliver Sachs would have it, “to write–intelligently, creatively, evocatively–about what it’s like living in the world at this time.”
In between preparations for my book launch for the second Imogen Trager novel, Dark Network, I’ve been working on the third book, called Consent of the Governed (coming summer 2018). This third book focuses on the broader dark network conspiracy and how the conspirators came to be. I began sketching the third book’s outlines when I sat down to write Dark Network in April of 2016.
Those outlines—about nihilist, nativist, totalitarian forces dividing and subverting democracy—were in place long before the November election. As I began to write Consent in February of this year, they were even more in evidence, though I naively worried my conspiracy would seem a little over the top.
To write the book, and for my own insight, I’ve been reading the “playbooks” and tactics of totalitarians, like the Nazi’s, the Stasi, Stalin; and they are chillingly informative. These are not nightstand reading. And once again, as events in the real world, from Breitbart to Brexit, to Charlottesville, to wherever the serpent raises its head next outstrip what I have on the page, the truth behind the headlines, the how-and-why, nevertheless remains crucial. People have died. There may be more.
The most chilling work I’ve come across in my research is Hermann Rauschning’s Hitler Speaks: The Voice of Destruction, from which the quote above comes. Currently, I have it as my epigram for the book, along with Prussian Field Marshall, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder’s “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” To be fair, von Moltke was writing in the mid-Nineteenth Century, and he was speaking specifically about battle, and the need to give decision-making authority to officers in the field during battle.
Taken together, however, the two quotes are my touchstone for who these conspirators are—opportunists. They sow mistrust, hatred, division and anarchy, and draw in the effective, opportunistic nihilists. It’s very like what we’re seeing today. The key is not that there’s some grand vision. It’s a smash-and-grab, a nihilistic plunge into a species of anarchy in which self-dealing authority can consistently divide and rule.
Rauschning was an “early adopter” of Nazism who became disillusioned with it. But being in at the beginning—and then being dismissed—gave him a unique perspective. And it’s one that can be instructive now.
It’s crucial to remember that Hitler never won a majority. He was Chancellor of a coalition government. He came to power by stealth, political maneuvering, naïve collusion and outright murder. The Reichstag fire in February of 1933, was a terrorist act perpetrated by his own men, but successfully blamed on leftists. The furor over the destruction of the parliament assembly building allowed Hitler and the Nazi’s to seize full control. He used that control to cow the press, destroy the labor unions and stoke anti-Semitism. And despite the rhetoric (now and then) the power grab wasn’t for the volk. It was for whoever could grab the most and hold on to it.
They’ve been around forever, sometimes on ascendance, sometimes in decline, but always there. We would do well to remember that they don’t always come in such blatant, disgusting pageantry.
I highly recommend:
The Last Days of Adolph Hitler, Hugh Trevor-Roper
Hitler Speaks, A Series of Political Conversations with Adolph Hitler on his Real Aims, Hermann Rauschning (called The Voice of Destruction in Britain)
James McCrone is the author of the suspense-thrillers Faithless Elector, and Dark Network (on sale Oct. 20). Publishers Weekly calls Faithless Elector a “fast-moving topical thriller.” Its “surprising twists add up to a highly suspenseful read.” Kirkus Reviews says it’s “a gripping and intelligently executed political drama.”
The sequel, Dark Network, is coming in October 20, 2017.
Faithless Elector, by James McCrone is available NOW through Amazon.
If you live in Philadelphia, pick up your copy at Head House Books -or- Penn Book Center. Support independent bookstores! They support authors.