Book Recommendation: Dark Horse

Ralph Reed, former director of the Christian Coalition through much of the 1990s and advisor for numerous political campaigns, has stepped out to write a novel. It actually came out in 2008, but I don’t remember hearing about it at the time. I received it recently as a gift.

My initial reaction was “what is he doing writing a novel”? My second thought was “I wonder if it can possibly be any good, since he has never done this before.”

Now I know that he can definitely do it, and do it pretty well.

There’s no way I’m going to give away the plot. First of all, it would be rather difficult to trace all the twists involved. I will say, though, that it draws a sophisticated picture of what it is like in politics, both on the campaign trail and behind the scenes.

Dark Horse raises the question “What would happen given a complex array of incidents involving election fraud, personal improprieties, and a brazen terrorist attack? Would this mix of events allow an independent running for the presidency to overcome all the problems inherent with an independent campaign?”

Reed writes as a Christian, and some of his players are evangelical, but they are not plastic. They have their faults, sometimes rather blatant. The Christian analysis he brings to the novel is not artificially moralistic; neither is it awkwardly planted on top of other events. There is a natural flow of Biblical values that interacts with selfish, worldly pursuits, and that leaves the reader pondering how the characters could have been more consistent in the application of their faith.

Reed’s background serves him well. He is an insider, so he can report on the inner workings of politics. Proximity to those inner workings could cause cynicism, and while Reed does show us the seamy side, even with those who claim Christian faith as their motivation, his cynicism is measured. He holds out hope that genuine faith can make a difference.

So, if you’re looking for a good, fast read, and you are particularly interested in the world of politics, I do recommend Dark Horse. Even though it is light reading compared to a policy tome, it nevertheless makes you think about the proper way to bring faith into the public realm.