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A novel about politics in a changing South

The Loser - Borden Deal

Three-time governor Warlock "Daddy" Williams is preparing for another run for the state's top office in 1962 Mississippi. Despairing of the prospects for victory by their handpicked candidate, a quintet of state power brokers decide to run John Bookman, a struggling young lawyer, as a spoiler to take votes away from the formidable Williams in the Democratic primary. Agreeing to play the role of a designated loser, Bookman soon displays considerable talent on the campaign trail, so much so that the prospect of ultimate victory seems within his grasp. But can Bookman triumph over his political patrons, who will stop at nothing to frustrate his plans?

 

A prolific author of novels set in the Deep South, Borden Deal provides an interesting portrait of a region in the midst of change, with a new, younger South challenging the traditional political bosses and populist demagogues. Throughout it a range of characters are on display, with none of them as compelling as Bookman, a man whose experience opens up new vistas of understanding about both himself and what it takes to get ahead in the world of state politics. While many of the scenes seem quaint today, there is a sense of authenticity in Deal's depiction of politics on the eve of civil rights change, which is presented from a perspective that wears surprisingly well today. Though it may not enjoy the stature possessed by Robert Penn Warren's All The King''s Men, this is a novel that any fan of Southern political fiction would find entertaining reading.