Against the backdrop of the Paris Peace Conference that would remake Europe in the wake of World War I, David O. Stewart reunites Dr. Jamie Fraser and Speed Cook, protagonists of the acclaimed The Lincoln Deception, in an intriguing presidential mystery…After four years of horror The Great War has ended, and President Woodrow Wilson’s arrival in Paris in December 1918 unites the city in ecstatic celebration. Major Jamie Fraser, an army physician who has spent ten months tending American soldiers, is among the crowd that throngs the Place de la Concorde for Wilson’s visit. As an expert on the Spanish influenza, Fraser is also called in to advise the president’s own doctor on how best to avoid the deadly disease. Despite his robust appearance, Wilson is more frail than the public realizes. And at this pivotal moment in history, with the Allied victors gathering to forge a peace treaty, the president’s health could decide the fate of nations.
While Fraser tries to determine the truth about Wilson’s maladies, he encounters a man he has not seen for twenty years. Speed Cook—ex-professional ball player and advocate for Negro rights—is desperate to save his son Joshua, an army sergeant wrongly accused of desertion. Pledging to help Cook, Fraser approaches Allen Dulles, a charming American spy who is also Wilson’s close aide. Soon Cook and Fraser’s personal quest will dovetail with the dramatic events unfolding throughout Paris, as French premier Georges Clemenceau narrowly survives an assassination attempt and peace negotiations begin to unravel. Rivalries and hidden agendas abound. At stake is not only Joshua Cook’s freedom, but the fragile treaty that may be the only way to stop Europe from plunging into another brutal war.
With a cast of vividly drawn characters that includes T.E. Lawrence, David Lloyd George, and Winston Churchill, David O. Stewart’s fast-paced novel is a riveting and expertly researched blend of history and suspense—illuminating, deftly plotted, and thoroughly satisfying.
"The Wilson Deception" is a novel that seamlessly blends in both elements of the historical and the fictional amid a Shakespearan drama known as the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Besides, President Wilson, the other historical figures who act and strut upon the stage are: Robert Lansing, Wilson's Secretary of State (a man Wilson kept in the dark about much of what was being hammered out at the peace conference); his nephews John Foster and Allen Dulles; Lawrence of Arabia; Winston Churchill; Premier Georges Clemenceau of France; and Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Great Britain.
On the fictional side enters James ("Jamie") Fraser, a one-time small-town country doctor from Ohio who, once a widower, remarried, and moved with his second wife Eliza to New York, where he became a specialist. (With America's entry into World War I, he joined the Army Medical Corps and spent a year tending the wounded. Now in his mid-fifties, Major Fraser is biding his time at the hospital in Paris, going about his daily duties as the Army slowly and steadily goes about shipping its soldiers home for demobilization.)
The reader first encounters Fraser on the streets of Paris in December 1918 as the city celebrates the arrival of President Woodrow Wilson. With the war recently won by the Allies, optimism is boiling over, for Wilson is widely regarded by the people as the 'indispensable man' who can bring about a just and lasting peace. But what is not widely known is that Wilson in not as well as his outward robustness would suggest. He suffers from fatigue, a twitching eye suggestive of a possible neurological disorder, and lifelong digestive issues. "As an expert on the Spanish influenza [which raged through the world during 1918 and into 1919, killing millions], Fraser is... called in by the president's own doctor on how best to avoid the deadly disease." He sets himself to learning as much as possible about Wilson's overall condition.
In addition to Fraser, someone from his distant past in Ohio makes an appearance: Speed Cook. Cook is a big, powerfully-built Black man who has weathered the storms of life. A former ballplayer and advocate for Negro rights, he manages to book passage aboard an oceangoing vessel as a seaman and, upon arrival in France, jumps ship. His mission is to find his son Joshua, a decorated combat veteran of the 93rd Infantry Division (Negro) wrongly accused of desertion. Cook chances upon Fraser and both men renew their acquaintance. It is a remarkable relationship, given the overt Jim Crow racism that saturated American society at that time. Fraser, after hearing Cook's story, agrees to help.
Fraser prevails upon Allen Dulles, a recent acquaintance, to help him secure Joshua's release. Dulles, a charming, urbane 20-something, is part of the diplomatic corps and a close aide of Wilson. More than that, he is also a spy and, as a price for securing Joshua's release, Dulles has plans to use him as a way of getting closer to Wilson (as the proverbial fly-on-the-wall) -- through serving as the president's valet. For, as Wilson extends his stay in Paris to play a direct role in the shaping of the peace treaty, problems arise owing to differing agendas from Clemenceau and Lloyd George (and some of the other Allied leaders at the conference) on what form the peace should take. In fact, negotiations begin to unravel and Wilson's slowly mounting health problems compound the situation. Allen Dulles is shown to have his own agenda in which Fraser and Joshua find themselves ensnared. Indeed, "at stake is not only Joshua Cook's freedom, but the fragile treaty that may be the only way to stop Europe from plunging into another brutal war."
As a thriller, "The Wilson Deception" is a slow-burner and a pleasure to read. Plus, the general reader gets to learn something about what the 1919 Paris Peace Conference was like on a human level.
There is no shortage of opportunity to read historical fiction about WW1 and its aftermath. I think my first exposure (and this is stretching it a bit) was Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey novels. She illustrated the fragility of the men who served (through Lord Peter) and the strong bonds of friendships formed in the trenches (Lord Peter and his Batman/valet Bunter). And, the contemporary Maisie Dobbs series deals very effectively with the changing social climate as well as the lingering physical and psychological damage to the soldiers.
David Stewart's book provided a vastly different look at the period and a fresh perspective for me. Previous historical novels about the period left me bogged down by the death and destruction the war caused, but The Wilson Deception cracked opened the door to the post-war politics and skullduggery. I loved the peek, however fictional, into the conference room of the Paris peace talks.
The cast of characters included familiar names, but perhaps in unfamiliar roles. Lawrence of Arabia was a prominent figure in the book and he was presented in some surprising scenes. Similarly, the Dulles brothers (later Secretary of State and head of the CIA) were manipulating people and situations in all kinds of ways.
As someone who emerged into adult life with a shameful void of historical knowledge or interest, I am having great fun filling the gaps with historical fiction. The Wilson Deception was both fun and informative.
I appreciate the opportunity NetGalley provided me to read an early edition of this book in return for an honest review.
3.5 stars. The Wilson Deception introduced me to World War I. I am hooked absolutely fascinated. Already bought a nonfiction book to learn more, which speaks highly of this book. I like the characters and back stories. This is the second installment in a series. I liked it enough I've bought the third. Part of the plot involves how poorly African-American soldiers were treated and how it creates the challenge to clear the name of Speed Cook's son, Joshua. The main plot is the many big names plotting for their piece of the spoils at war's end. The author did a wonderful job weaving history and historical events together to construct a tale of espionage. Above all I loved the history-how the modern world was mapped following the war and how the outcomes are still impacting us today.
An interesting premise (diplomatic intrigue at the close of WWI and leading to the treaty of Versailles), compounded with a black U.S. soldier's charge of desertion (though he did not), and President Wilson's ill health. What threw me at the beginning was that the protagonist is Dr. James "Jamie" Fraser, which I immediately associate with the Jamie Fraser of the Outlander series. It was hard to make the transition. I would like to read the first of Stewart's mysteries, The Lincoln Deception, to learn more about the characters.
1919 France at the time of League of Nations and the Versailles treaty in Paris Dr. James Fraser was a country doctor who studied up on infectious diseases who was in the army and now is being buried by the problems of the Influenza, now he's buried in international politics as well. Speed Cook, a black ex-ballplayer and ex-newspaper publisher whose decorated son was unjustly accused of desertion and is in a French prison. It is detailed how poorly African-American soldiers were treated and how that creates the real challenge to clearing him. The two men have a positive history together and consider themselves friends. All the schemes and double-cross and partitioning up the world pretty much according to national self-interest sows the seeds of discord that presages later wars and hatreds. Joe Barrett is very adept at switching voices, good inflection, and giving life to the characters. A great read!
Dr. Jamie Fraser volunteered to go to France to treat wounded soldiers in 1917. Now he finds himself not only witnessing the Paris Peace Conference, but treating both Clemenceau and Wilson as patients. He also meets his friend from more than twenty years earlier, Speed Cook, who is in France looking for his missing soldier son and also attending a conference of African peoples. John Foster and Allen Dulles are characters in the story, as are Wilson, Clemenceau, Lloyd George and numerous officials from the Triple Alliance countries. The "deception" of the title seems entirely plausible as well, This was a fun reexamination of the peace process at the end of World War I and how close we came to having no peace at all.
I very much enjoyed this story. I’m not sure which I liked more getting a glimpse into such a historically significant time or the mystery the author creates in that setting. From the beginning you are taken into another place in time where it seems as light is finally shining after such a long period of darkness. The characters both real and fictional are incredibly well written. Definitely worth a read! I received this book for free from eBook Discovery. I voluntarily review this book. This is my honest review.
Only 3 stars because I became bogged down about 4/5 of the way through the book. Otherwise,a rewarding read set at the end of WWI ! My understanding of how the peace agreement reached in Versailles led to WWII has grown.
In The Wilson Deception, David O. Stewart tells the tale of three men, two ex-soldiers and an army Doctor whose personal dramas play out against the tortuous peace negotiations in Paris in 1919. It's a "gripping tale", not a bad companion on a plane journey, but with little in it to cherish afterwards. We meet a bevy of famous men whom I suppose to be authentically described (with the exception of the cut-out cardboard figure of poor T E Lawrence!). It did send me to the history books to try to sort out the true from the surmised and the fictional.
I enjoy David O. Stewart's voice. He provides a comfortable flow to his stories with a nice balance of dialog and narrative. Where he falls short in my estimation is providing enough detail or perspective on the historical aspects of his stories. It's almost like he doesn't trust that taking the time to reveal the historical nuances of his topic will help build the story tension and propel it along. The Wilson Deception takes place during the post-WWI Paris peace talks, and their is intrigue aplenty to be farmed for tension and thrills. Stewart touches on them only superficially to help explain the presence of the various political players. I wanted more. The story around his primary protagonists, Dr. Jamie Fraser, and Speed and Joshua Cook is interesting, touching on the severe influenza outbreak and shabby treatment of the Negro soldier, but would have benefitted from more depth all around. While I find myself wishing more authors would trim their tomes by fifty pages or so, I would have liked Stewart to give me fifty pages more. A good read nonetheless. This quick read is worth the time.
The Wilson Deception is a sequel to Stewart’s The Lincoln Deception, which involves two men Jamie Fraser and Speed Cook, discovering a secret about Lincoln’s assassination. This sequel takes place years later, at the close of WW I. Both Speed and Jamie find themselves in Europe during the peace conference for different reasons. Speed is there to discover what has happened to his son Joshua, and Jamie is there because he joined the Army as a doctor to avoid troubles at home. Eventually, the two run into each other, and Fraser agrees to help Cook’s son, who has been falsely found guilty of desertion.
The first book succeeded because it presented two men who respect each other, but who look at life differently, largely because Speed Cook is a black man and Jamie Fraser is white. In this volume, Speed, in the beginning at least, gets more page time than Jamie, and Speed and Joshua’s story is far more interesting than the problems with Jamie’s marriage. In fact, this is the weakest part of the book is this sub-plot of Jamie’s marriage. It feels like little more than a needed plot point, and is solved so easily, a reader can be forgiven that it happened.
Luckily that is only a small part of the novel. Stewart has his fictional pair run into some heavy historical figures. Besides President Wilson, there is also Lawrence of Arabia, the Dulles brother (Allen and Foster), and Clemenceau. In fact, the only good point about the marriage sub-plot is that it allows Stewart to have Clemenceau give a very French and very male comment about marriage.
In order to free Joshua, Speed and Jamie make various bargains with various devils, or perhaps angels. This leads them to become, to a degree, spies as various countries struggle to get various things out of the peace conference. Both Jamie and Joshua find themselves closer to power than either would like to be. While it might sound, at first, far-fetched the spy plot does make sense and works quite well in the novel.
The stellar point of the book is Stewart’s ability to capture time and place. Fraser and Cook are different but they respect each other and trust each other. Joshua’s struggles in the army are wonderfully, if heart-breaking, drawn. While the focus on race that made a significant portion of the first book isn’t quite as dominant here (Joshua’s problem is a result of racist attitudes and Wilson’s views are not whitewashed), this sequel does focus more on a more global issue of race, or to be more blunt, the attitude of the rich white West to determine the future of everybody.
Both Fraser’s wife and daughter do make an appearance and contribute to the plot. While Eliza is a likable character, of the two, Violet, the daughter, shines the best and, in some ways, provides insight into her parents. In some ways, she possesses a spirit of life that her two parents lack. It wouldn’t surprise me if Stewart writes a book featuring Joshua and Violet.
While an in-depth knowledge of the time period isn’t required to understand the book (and Stewart’s afterword does point the interested reader to a few sources), I would highly recommend reading Paris, 1919 prior or just after reading this. It covers the time period of the novel, and provides background that well heightens enjoyment of the plot. Stewart himself lauds Paris 1919 in the afterword.
A CRITICAL HISTORICAL MOMENT IN MODER WORLD HISTORY BROUGHT TO LIFE
You might think that historical fiction is dry and full of issues resolved long ago. The Wilson Deception by David O. Stewart proves how wrong that assumption can be. Many people may not realize the knock-on consequences of the decisions made in the Treaty of Versailles in June of 1919 at the end of World War I are considered a major cause of World War II and set the tinder for the fires of the Arab Spring in our modern era of instability in the Middle East.
In the larger story, Mr. Stewart's narrative takes place around the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 where the "big four,' primary leaders of the Allied forces in the War to end all Wars, Lloyd George, Prime Minister of Great Britain; Georges Clemenceau, Prime Minister of France; Vittorio Orlando, Prime Minister of Italy, and President Woodrow Wilson from the United States, have gathered. It's a stage dramatized by secret deals and political betrayal. The three European leaders have been making side deals the American President seems oblivious to as he presents his fourteen point plan for peace. To the French their highest priority is the emasculation of Germany, their longtime foe on the European continent. The English and Italians have seen the coming importance of oil to fuel their fleets and are anxious to carve up the Arab lands to get it. But so is Clemenceau, the puppet master, more concerned with short term gains than the disastrous shape of the legacy they will leave behind.
Dr. James Fraser, the country doctor, and his ally, Speed Cook, a black retired baseball player and boxer from Stewart's earlier novel, "The Lincoln Deception," provide the inner story around this moment in world history, though it's Joshua Cook, Speed's son who's at the center of it. The author shows through Joshua how poorly the segregated negro troops were treated by their white officers, and how those seconded off to the French fare much better. Caught in the gears of an officious general, Joshua brings his father and Dr. Fraser together again in an effort to save him from charges of treason. Dr. Fraser's presence in a Paris hospital helping the war effort, finds him immersed in a deepening influenza epidemic in the process of killing millions worldwide. His expertise in dealing with the disease and its complications bring him close to the President Wilson, where he witnesses important historic moments, while Joshua, through the machinations of (John) Foster Dulles and his brother Allen place him at the President's side as an aide. These two wily Dulles brothers are characters out of history who will become respectively, Secretary of State and director of the CIA in their extraordinary careers. Here in 1919, they are shown in their early years of shadowy intelligence.
Mr. Stewart brings these characters plus Jamie's wife and daughter through an intricate mix of events to the crux of the puzzle, and tragedy, played out in the Treaty of Versailles. It's a highly enjoyable read that imagines, where necessary, the motivations and character attributes that brings life and understanding to the confused and cross purposes of the time, and demonstrates how the human emotions of those in power can accidentally or purposely shape effects that take place nearly a century later. I recommend it as my favorite David O. Stewart book to date.
This was the second entry in a historical mystery series, stronger and more interesting than the first. A large time gap of 20 some years between the two books, with this one set at the Paris peace negotiations that followed World War One. Lots of actual historical figures appear, including President Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau and the Dulles brothers, along with Lawrence of Arabia.
The historical detail is of interest, since it is generally agreed that the heavy-handed peace agreement certainly contributed to German nationalism and eventually set the stage for the next world war.
The protagonists, Dr. Jamie Fraser and black ex-ballplayer and journalist Speed Cook, are both in Paris. Dr. Fraser has been doing medical war work, and Cook has come because his son has been tried on trumped-up racially motivated charges of desertion. This tale is action-packed as Paris and the Versailles participants all scheme and double-cross and partition up the world pretty much according to national self-interest.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my review. Using the backdrop of the Versailles treaty at the end of WWI, David Stewart tells the story of Dr. Jamie Fraser, a Major whose knowledge of Spanish influenza has him called to consult with President Wilson's physician. His position enables him to help Speed Cook, an ex-newspaper publisher whose son was unjustly accused of desertion. It is a novel of deceptions, half-truths and negotiations between nations as well as individuals. Stewart's well-researched tale allows the reader to sit in with Wilson, Clemenceau and Lloyd George and see how the stage was set for WWII.
Good quick read. The protagonists are not as well developed as they had been in the previous novel (Lincoln Deception), but plot was more intriguing and the historical background and historical characters were more interesting.
Interesting historical novel about the peace process following WWI with the overlapping story of the fate of a black soldier convicted of desertion. The prose was a bit "basic" so I had to push myself to "stay with it" since I wanted to learn more about this period of history.
Interesting but I never felt empathy for any of the characters. The historical events were difficult to understand unless you were a history major. The deception could have been more exciting but in the end I said "that's it?"