Book Review: “The Candidate”

Sometimes fiction inadvertently mimics fact. A political thriller penned by C.H. Cobb does just that.
The 2016 presidential race was expected to be a race between a moderate Republican and a typical left-wing Democrat. Suddenly, an unlikely contender throws his hat in the ring. Against all odds and expectations of pundits and political commentators, his message resonates across America and manages to carry him all the way down to the wire on Election Day. Accusation of Russian involvement fly.

While that might describe the actual 2016 presidential race, it also accurately summaries the plot of The Candidate. The 450-page novel tells the story of Henry Marshall, a plain-spoken constitutionalist blogger, as he rises from Internet stardom to reluctantly launching an independent presidential campaign.

Penned before the 2016 election cycle and the Trump phenomenon, The Candidate is a political thriller that unwittingly earns a place within the alternative history genre for its exploration of how far a man can go armed only with a message – and how far those within the establishment will go to stop him. The surprising election of Donald Trump makes many of the aspects of the plot seem prophetic, rather than slightly fanciful.

the-candidate-cobbA pastor by trade, Cobb’s writing reflects extensive background knowledge of mainstream media, political strategy, the military, and of course constitutional history; each chapter begins either with a Bible verse or a passage from the Federalist Papers. The technical preciseness gives vital story subplots a sense of authenticity and realism.

Although Cobb shows the ugly, nasty side of politics and the methods politicians will resort to destroy their enemies. characters such as Marshall convey an optimistic idealism found in Frank Capra films such as “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Henry Marshall is a modern-day Jefferson Smith battling the corrupt D.C. establishment and those who will do anything and everything to maintain it. The lack of subtlety or moral conflict may not appeal to all readers, but fans of Ayn Rand novels such as Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead will appreciate its philosophical directness.

As someone who was part of the Ron Paul Revolution during the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, the novel served as fun escapism, portraying an America that gets behind a limited government constitutionalist and the message of freedom. If you want to see what that world would look like, The Candidate can take you there.

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