Seven Days in May is one of those rare things: a movie that is better than the source book.
The book isn’t bad, but it’s full of lectures to the reader, while the movie does away with all that exposition and is a fast-paced drama. One of my favorite parts is how quickly Jiggs Casey, Kirk Douglas, makes up his mind that there is a coup in the making and goes to the President. He puts everything on the line over a suspicion, but one about a matter so grave to the country, he’s willing to do it.
I was dismayed a few years back when giving a keynote at a conference and I asked the audience how many had seen or read Seven Days in May and not a single person indicated they had. And that dismay just deepened when I searched on Amazon and discovered the book is, essentially, out of print. There’s not even a Kindle version.
Most Americans find the idea of a military coup to be unimaginable. But if you look at history, things can change fast. Peaceful countries have been torn apart in just a matter of months if the right circumstances occur and a match is lit.
I wrote a book, The Line, as part of my Shadow Warrior series, that I called an updated Seven Days in May about a cabal of West Pointers who are planning a coup. I was lambasted by the Alumni Association of the Military Academy for even writing such a thing. But fiction often presages fact.
In some case, fiction can’t even represent fact because reality can become so strange, it would have been dismissed if presented as fiction just a few years earlier.
It’s curious that although Seven Days in May is set a number of years ago, it occurs after the United States had a war with Iran. Who would have thought?
The very first law that Congress enacted was the Oath of Office for military officers. That was how important that oath is:
I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
Let us hope our officers remember that oath.
RIP Kirk Douglas.
Originally published at https://bobmayer.com.