As an obligation to the consumer, a publisher must ensure that his selling works are of the highest quality. When it comes to historical fiction, this is not only measured by the quality of the writing, but also by its historical accuracy. The novel Red, White, and Red is not only of high quality writing, but it is also historically accurate because of the extensive research done in its preparation and its writing. In this compelling story, the protagonist will grow up in a strife city and learn dark secrets that he is not supposed to know. The characters, events, and settings in this story are all written to high standards of historical accuracy because of the thorough research conducted by its author.
The crux of the story finds the main character, Marshall Latimer, a middle aged man living in New York, fed up with the class system and intent on breaking it down. Having grown up in a working class neighborhood, Latimer was raised to hate the upper classes. When he discovers a plot by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to convert America’s democracy into an oligarchy ruled by the rich, he is driven to the only solution that is clear to him: assassinate the president. His plan and mission is to attend the opening of the Bonneville Dam, where FDR will be speaking to the residents and workers, and kill him. The story explains Latimer’s experiences as he travels through America on the trail of FDR.
The characters in this story are historically accurate in their thoughts, appearances, and customs, and their descriptions and dialogue are based on established research. The protagonist of the story, Marshall Latimer, grows up in a small, working class neighborhood in suburban New York. He despises the upper and middle classes for their possessions and purpose. He is jealous of the middle class and the advancements they brought to the culture (Bragg). It is well known that there was much hate between the lower and middle classes during the 20th century (Bragg). Latimer also owns a garden, in which he spends most of his day planting vegetables. He eats what grows at home (Robert 97). His garden is very similar to the “victory gardens” that many people had during that time (Robert 103). When Latimer moves to New York he joins a gang in order to survive the harsh streets of the city. The gang comprises of vigilantes from both the middle and lower classes (Bragg). While in the gang Latimer gains a certain type of class and respect for the ways of professionalism. He commonly wears zoot suits, exaggerated suits for men that were common during the time (Robert 91). Another major character in the story is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Everything he does and says in the story is accurate, except for his acts of conspiracy, which, although fictional, are still based upon and supported by recorded facts and details. For example, Roosevelt promised that he would prevent “overcapitalization” (Hansen). Roosevelt’s attitude and actions in the story are all faithful to his personality as recorded by his contemporaries and biographers.
Many of the events that occur in the novel are historical events which are reproduced with accuracy and detail based upon factual research. Referenced throughout the story is the building of the Bonneville Dam. This was a real and important project which aimed to provide about 8 million kilowatts of energy and had 18 floodgates (Hansen). Economically, between 1929 and 1932, unemployment rates went from 1.5 million to 15 million (Hansen), contributing to the overall tone of desperation in the story. Many popular culture event references are also in the story to add realism and atmosphere, such as Kilroy (Robert 113), the “zoot suit riots” (Robert 91), and Frank Sinatra’s rise to fame (Jenkins 75), which is relevant throughout the story because Latimer enjoys listening to Sinatra’s music.
The settings in this story are factually correct and appropriate, because of the research done to make them as accurate as possible. The hometown of the protagonist is suburban New York, which was a working class town. In 1911, three classes (upper, middle, and lower) were very prevalent. The upper class had money and art, the middle class were the “doers”, and the working class was very poor, and struggled to make ends meet (Bragg). Other settings include New York City and the Bonneville Dam, which have been researched thoroughly to ensure that they are accurate in description. For example, the gates on the Dam were 50 feet wide by 50 feet tall, and the three project heads were Claude Irving “Pete” Grimm, Major C.F. Williams, and Captain J. Gorlinski (Hansen), historical figures who make an appearance in the story. Great care is taken to present the time-appropriate culture and experience of these settings. For example, many of the houses in the story’s New York had televisions and radios because televisions had become very popular during the 1940’s (Robert 117) and the golden age of radio was from the 1920s to the 1950s (Robert 185). In the city, many fast food chains came out in the 1940s like Dairy Queen, McDonald’s, and pizza joints (Robert 106). Lastly, the architecture has been researched as well. Many new building types were appearing during the 1900’s (Robert 65), and the goal of 20th century buildings, said one man, was, “to produce … houses like Fords” (Robert 69).
When a publisher will only take things that are written well and are historically accurate, a story must meet such requirements to succeed. One does not simply write an inaccurate historical fiction piece, as this does a disservice to not only the reader, but to the history itself. The story Red, White, and Red is historically accurate in terms of characters, settings, and events, and much research has been done to make sure these claims are correct. The story was written as an entertainment tool for many audiences, and its purpose is to tell a good story, but the fact that it is faithful to the time period it was set in raises the quality and makes it not only more enjoyable, but also more educational. It would be a good work to publish and fits the criteria needed for it to be a proper historical fiction.