"We now stand before a Rubicon of our own. Cross it, and the American republic will be dead as well."
These words, spoken by one who placed his own life in danger to do so, were to express the undeniable comparison between where Julius Caesar - preceding his decision to cross the Rubicon, resulting in the fall of the Roman republic and causing the dawning of the age of the Roman Empire ruled by emperors - stood just before he took that fated step, and where we – America - now stand. Before Rome became a dictatorship under the rule of emperors, it was known as the center of culture, civilization and power, expanding to claim more and more territory with each war they fought and won... like America, huh?
- excerpt from Rubicon
It's an election year. Summer in Washington, D.C., is sweltering. So, it seems, will be the race to the White House. But the man many see as the ideal choice, Robert "Bobby" Hart, a young Democratic senator from California, adamantly refuses his party's nomination as presidential candidate. He prefers to spend his time as senator and as much as possible with his wife, Helen, in their Santa Barbara home away from the political spotlight. The nature of presidential campaigning would make Senator Hart's wishes impossible; but, with this election, the political spotlight becomes the least of the candidates' worries.
Hart believes there are few (if any) on the Hill to be trusted. Developing and maintaining friendships in Washington is even trickier. He and Helen protect their privacy and value their personal relationships, placing the highest of personal and professional regard upon the mutual respect shared between the young senator from California and Michigan's equally youthful Republican senator Charles "Charlie" Ryan and his wife, Clare, a heart surgeon at the University of Michigan hospital. Rare as it might seem, the two men feel responsible for delivering results to and honest representation of their constituents in their respective states and as their parties' legislative representative. Truly remarkable concept in today's political environment, huh?
This cynical perspective counters Hart's desire to coerce a reluctant Helen back to the nation's capital to live rather than in their Santa Barbara hideaway. It also prevents him from seeking the highest office in the nation, or even accepting the Democratic presidential nominee's plea to be his running partner, the vice-presidential nominee on the ticket. It's enough that he must spend the week there, himself, eagerly jumping on the first available flight back to California at week's end. Then, Dieter Shoenfeld, European publisher and one of a very small pool of those to be trusted, gives Bobby Hart's world a jolt, one of what will become a continuous wave of shocks that will change the political landscape and the country, more than even the Harts and Ryans could have ever begun to predict.
Rubicon opens slowly. Its smooth set-up, unfolding similar to the human eye taking in a vast vista, belies its billing as an action thriller. Then, before you know it, we are knee-deep in the middle of a full-blown government conspiracy to derail a presidential election, reframe the United States Constitution, and threaten the American republic's replacement with an American dictatorship. Of course, none of these catastrophic events come without cost: the political body count shoots sky-high, and words we've heard uttered by representatives of our current, real-life administration echo throughout the halls of this fictional Congress and Supreme Court.
I recommend this suspense novel without reservation, rating it 5 out of 5 stars. Every American of voting age should read this book... before the next election. Alexander, if that's his real name (I know I wouldn't want to use mine, knowing the people he's dealing with in our current administration), shines a light of high-intensity and luminosity upon the players in this deadly game. Believe me, I use the word "game" accompanied by extreme doses of sarcasm. This is no game. Rubicon puts it all into perspective, posing essential, though dire, questions to the American people. Ignore them at our own peril.