“In High Places” was probably one of the first fictional thrillers on Government functioning that I had read. I had just discovered Arthur Hailey as a good author and this was probably second or third book of Hailey that I had picked up. In later years, I have read many of such books based on US or India. Even though the book is set in Canada, it really gave me a perspective on functioning of democratic government and what kind of things leaders have to face. The book is set in cold war era when Canada is facing a threat of thermonuclear war and its prime minister is trying to find options to protect his country.
The main characters here are prime minister and some of his cabinet colleagues and political rivals. The story revolves around prime minister and how his political and personal life gets mixed up. As part of his negotiation with US, he is trying to have an agreement so that US will have more say in the defense of Canada and whole of North America but his political rivals will term it as giving up sovereignty of the country. I still remember that one point of negotiation was to hand over Alaska to Canada in return.
I could see how difficult it must be for the government to do these negotiations where anything that they do for the country will be termed as sellout of the country by their political rivals. One of the interesting events in the book is still very clear in my mind. Prime minister of Canada is planning to make a speech in parliament and he is continuously observing the press gallery. At certain time when most of the press people are ready to leave for giving feed for prime time news, he gets up and makes his point thus making sure that it will cover all headlines in TV across the country. Simple but effective strategy.
In high places is not Hailey’s best work but I liked it because of the subject.