David Grant, former businessman and current academic, is coaxed into running for Congress as an Independent. In doing so, he enters the bizarre world of national politics, testing his abilities and moral compass. However, when the country finds itself in the middle of a constitutional crisis, Grant discovers he is in a unique position to save the country, yet it might also destroy all he values in life.
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“This book provides a great insight into American politics and the complicated issues that have a direct impact on political careers and our nation.”
—Robert Mayers, Author of The Forgotten Revolution and The War Man
“I found this book a satisfying reading experience as I ponder the state of affairs with seemingly insurmountable obstacles for effective leadership. It’s also a fun book to read!”
—Vivian Fransen, Author of The Straight Spouse: A Memoir
“A really gripping political thriller. A real page turner.”
—Phil Lear, Author of Writer Interruptus
Discussion Questions for Book Groups
- Would you consider David Grant more or a liberal or conservative?
- How would you relate the plot to today’s political environment?
- Which character appeared to be most like a real-life politician?
- Which character was most responsible for the events in the story?
- Which character would you like to meet? or can relate to?
- Which was the least likable character?
- How did this story raise your awareness of the political process?
Q & A with J.R. Bale on Phoenix in the Middle of the Road
Q: What can you tell us about you new book?
A: It’s sort of a hero’s journey into the bizarre and perilous world of American politics. My protagonist, David Grant, runs for Congress as an Independent. Ultimately, his journey leads him to a constitutional crisis that he is uniquely positioned to deal with, but at a cost. The overall tone is not as Pollyanna as The West Wing, but not as cynical as House of Cards.
Q: There’s obviously a political bent to your book. What are your personal political leanings?
A: Well, most of my characters have strong, often conflicting, political views. As for me, I suppose I’m a centrist. Like many other people, I feel the two major parties have become too extreme and too dependent on the special-interest money, therefore less responsive to the people. I think my book expresses that view quite clearly.
Q: What about Citizens United, which is mentioned a number of times in the novel?
A: I believe the 2010 Citizens United case was the worst decision to come out of the Supreme Court in the 21st century. It allows wealthy special interests to buy votes in Congress, disempowering individual citizens.
Q: Would you say lean more liberal or more conservative?
A: Well, I reject those labels. Liberal or conservative are each baskets of unrelated positions. Honestly, what does environmental policy have to do with gay marriage or guns? Yet, there are well defined liberal and conservative positions on every one of those issues. And those who claim those labels must adhere to all the assigned positions. Yet, there’s no consistent underlying philosophy except “Us Versus them.”
Q: Could you imagine running for office yourself?
A: Imagine, yes. Actually doing it, no.
Q: You’re already working on your next book. Is it another political story?
A: No, not at all. I don’t know if I have another political story in me. But we’ll see.