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BKMT READING GUIDES
A Fine and Dangerous Season
by Keith Raffel
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The phone rings in the California home of businessman Nate Michaels before the sun is up on October 24, 1962. An hour later he's on an Air Force jet to Washington. Michaels hasn't seen or spoken to President Kennedy since they met at Stanford in the fall of 1940, but now JFK needs his help opening a back channel to defuse the threat posed by Soviet missiles in Cuba. In both the Pentagon and the Kremlin, pro-war generals want a showdown, not a humiliating compromise. As the world races toward nuclear holocaust during a fine and dangerous autumn, Michaels finds himself spinning in a maelstrom of statecraft, espionage, love, and betrayal.
"A compelling story, written with a sure hand, that keeps you intrigued. But watch out for the gut punches. They come often and unexpectedly. Raffel definitely has his game on." --Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Columbus Affair and The Jefferson Key
"A rare historical novel - exciting and utterly believable - with Jack Kennedy as you've never seen him. Raffel is a master storyteller. I loved A Fine and Dangerous Season." --Gayle Lynds, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Spies
"It's been half a century since the Cuban Missile Crisis brought us to the edge of the abyss. It's about time we got a page-turning thriller this good about it. The stakes are incredibly high, the action swift and chilling, the writing sleek and smooth. And the historical characters, from JFK to General Curtis LeMay, leap off the page. It may be fiction, but you'll believe every word of it." --William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Harvard Yard and The Lincoln Letter
"Think you know JFK? Think again. Keith Raffel's novel A Fine and Dangerous Season is a nail-biting, meticulously researched foray into the real-life thriller territory of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Don't miss it!" --Kelli Stanley, award-winning author of City of Secrets
"Raffel takes the reader on a wild ride from Stanford University right before World War II to one of the most dangerous moments of the Cold War. Loved it!" --Rebecca Cantrell, award-winning author of A City of Broken Glass
"A clever and deftly crafted retelling of the Cuban Missile Crisis through the eyes of JFK's old Stanford buddy. Not to be missed." --Robert Gregory Browne, bestselling author of Trial Junkies
Editorial ReviewNo editorial review at this time.
October 24, 1962
Palo Alto, California
I put down the slide rule and hoisted up the black handset.
“Yeah?” It was too early in the morning for my phone manners to have kicked in.
“Am I speaking to Nathan Michaels?” the caller asked in a New England twang.
I hesitated for a moment. “Jack? Can that be you?”
“No, it’s not Jack. It’s his brother Robert.”
By his second word, I’d realized my mistake. The pitch was too high, the tone too reedy to be Jack. And why would he be calling me more than two decades after we’d last seen each other?“Mr. Attorney General, I am sorry. What can I do for you?” ... view entire excerpt...
Discussion Questions• How did politics in Washington work differently in 1962 than today?
• How does the private life of politicians influence your assessment of them? And in JFK’s case in particular?
• How much do you think the World War II experiences of JFK and Nate influenced their actions during the Cuban Missile Crisis?
• Jackie Kennedy told Nate, “Jack embraced his experiences in the War, exploited them, got elected to Congress. You ran away from yours. Why?” What’s the answer?
• Did Nathan Michaels carry his grudge against JFK too far? Should he have let it go sooner?
• What kind of man is Nate? Could he have handled things better? What mistakes does he make?
• How does Nate change as a person from the beginning of the book to the end?
• Who is the hero of the story?
• Just how are Nate and JFK different?
• What will life be like for Nate after the events in the book?
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