Advise and Consent (Drury)

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also, consider these LitLovers talking points to get a discussion started for Advise and Consent:

1. The book is divided into 4 sections, each devoted to one the main characters. Which character do you find most sympathetic? Do you have a favorite?

2. How does the press come off in Drury's book. He himself was a press corp member. Does he look favorably or not so favorably on his fictional cohorts?

3. For Bob Munson, "it took time, and much study of men's hearts and minds to be a good leader." Munson himself has been at it for decades, first in the House, now as the Senate Majority Leader. Is Munson correct, that good leadership takes years to develop? Or is the call for term limits a good idea, to refresh a sclerotic government with new blood?

4. Why is the president so firm in his desire to have Bob Leffingwell as his secretary of state? What do you think of Leffingwell? Why does he lie in the subcommittee?

5. What were the stakes during the cold war when it came to charting a course for foreign policy—either appeasement or toughness? Does the nation face a similar problem today?

6. How would you describe the relations among all members of the Senate and between both sides of the aisle in this novel? Did the Senate (at least as portrayed in this novel) behave differently in the mid- to late-fifties than it does today? Why or why not?

7. When politicians compromise their positions are they weak? How do you feel when it comes to the bargaining and  bartering that go on behind the scenes in this novel?

8. What do you think motivates the politicians in this book? Is it a higher concern for the welfare of the country or personal ambition?

9. Referring to constituents, Munson complains to a colleague that Senators are expected to

Decide high policy, legislate for the good of the country, run the government, and play nursemaid...too. How do they expect us to do any of it?

Is Munson right? Do we expect too much of our elected officials? Or should the men and women we send to Washington be responsive to our individual needs? Who gains access to Senators anyway?

10. Talk in particular about Brigham Anderson's decision. Could he have taken another path? What would you have advised him, given the era in which the events of the book take place.

11. Does evil occur in this book? If so, who is responsible for setting it in motion? If not, why not?

12. SPOILER ALERT: What kind of president do you think Harley Hudson will make? Will he live up to the job and be capable of making sound decisions?

13. After reading Advise and Consent, how do you view politicians—at least those portrayed in this book? Do you see them as attempting to walk a fine line between their ideals and their ambitions? Do you feel their personal ambition frequently overtakes their ideals? Do you feel that most try to legislate for the good of the nation? Or does staying in office, "careerism" take precedence over devising fair and workable national policy?

14. Are today's politicians different than the way Drury wrote about them in 1957-58?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

top of page (summary)

Site by BOOM Boom Supercreative

LitLovers © 2024