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THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION
THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION: Kennedy and Khrushchev at the brink of nuclear war.
Genre: Literary fiction. Word length 200,000 words.
THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION is about America, day by day, edging towards nuclear war with the Soviet Union. President Kennedy is trying to find a way out of the predicament without recourse to war, but the armed forces feel confident about attacking the Soviet Union in one all-out war, certain they would win. President John Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy are doubtful about their motives and advice, cautious after they were told similar gung-ho things about the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
The events of The Cuban Missile Crisis are burned into history as the time when the world went to the very edge of nuclear war. A war that would have killed hundreds of millions of people and poisoned the atmosphere for generations. No other event in the history of our planet has been so critical.
The story is told from the viewpoint of a man who awakens in hospital from a near-death experience. On recovery Luke McBain finds that his whole personality has altered and it is as if he now had two distinct personalities within him, each struggling for supremacy. The new personality is obsessed with President Kennedy and missiles. His life is completely transformed by the Near Death Experience. He feels he has a mission, a task that must be accomplished.
Luke becomes involved with a radical pro-war, white-power newspaper which is promoting war with Cuba and the Soviet Union, segregated education, and retention of Jim Crow laws. The newspaper is supported by disaffected radical groups who are opposed to JFK. The CIA and military chiefs use the newspaper to leak information and voice their opinions, without having to be accountable for them.
The proprietor of the newspaper, Barsby, is increasingly frustrated with President Kennedy’s moderate military approach to the Cuban missile bases, and infuriated by the forced integration of Colleges in the South. He prepares to release an exposé of Kennedy’s sexual escapades, his use of amphetamines, and his dealings with organized crime. Before he is able to publish, The White Nation office is burgled and a journalist murdered. Barsby finds out the hard way that J. Edgar Hoover is working to protect President Kennedy for his own reasons.
In another strand to the story, Luke McBain experiences nightmares about the coming execution of a Negro. When he is sent by his newspaper to New Orleans to investigate aspects of this case, he discovers new information about the crime. He meets the lawyer working on this case and tries to provide facts that will prevent the execution. Unfortunately his evidence originated in his near death experience, and is not believable. The execution story is interwoven throughout the novel with the story of the missile crisis, until they reach a simultaneous conclusion.
As the threat of war comes closer, Luke McBain grows desperate to find some way to shut down the radical paper which has growing influence across the country, inciting the public, rallying everyone opposed to integration, and calling for the impeachment of the president for not taking a stronger stand against Khrushchev.
Barsby is ready to publicize the fact that JFK was not following the advice of the armed forces. The military chiefs preferred solution was to bomb and invade Cuba; hopefully they would destroy all the missile sites before any rockets could be launched towards the United States, but if necessary, they would start a full-scale nuclear war with the Soviet Union.
The story is a mixture of factual snippets and fictitious characters. Historical facts and quotes from Soviets and JFK are scattered throughout the novel, adding to the sense of realism.