Reprinted With The Permission Of The Evening Times
“The Jinx’ raises interesting questions”
By MIKE ROGERS-Times Managing Editor
What if the 20-year jinx is real?
Being the President of the United States is statistically the riskiest job in the nation, especially if you are elected 20 years after the last president to die in office.
Each president elected every 20th year since 1840 from William Henry Harrison to John F. Kennedy has died in office. And, Ronald Reagan, elected 20 years after Kennedy, narrowly survived an assassination attempt in 1981. It has been 20 years since Reagan’s election and the next president will tempt the fate of the 20-year jinx.
Harrison, elected 1840, reportedly died of pneumonia after only one month in office.
Abraham Lincoln, elected 1860, was the first president assassinated, at least according to accepted American History. Of course, conspiracy theorists and “X-Files” fans may argue Harrison was the first. Lincoln was murdered by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865.
James Garfield, elected 1880, was shot by Charles J. Guiteau on July 2, 1881 and died of infection and an internal hemorrhage Sept. 19, 1881.
William McKinley, elected to a second term in 1900, was shot twice by Leon Czolgosz in September 1901.
Warren Harding, elected 1920, reportedly died of a heart attack July 29, 1923. After his death, there were rumors that Harding had been poisoned. No autopsy was performed.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, elected to a third term in 1940, died April 12, 1945, in his fourth term. FDR died of a cerebral hemorrhage while away from the White House.
Kennedy, elected 1960, was assassinated Nov. 22, 1963. Too many conspiracy theories exist about JFK’s death to be listed in one column.
The only other president to die in office was Zachary Taylor, elected 1848. He died July 9, 1850, five days after eating cherries at a Fourth of July celebration.
Now, just in time for the 2000 election, Atlanta tax lawyer and first-time author Larry Kahn has written an entertaining novel, “The Jinx,” which poses the question, what if these deaths weren’t coincidence, but part of a 160-year conspiracy?
The book’s premise is slightly far-fetched, but still is nestled in the realm of plausibility.
The descendants of a wealthy Southern man killed at the direction of President Harrison in 1840 have vowed to avenge his death by doing away with the president elected every 20 years. This family has risen to power in several branches of the federal government and has kept the pact alive through the Royal Order of the Millennium. The family is poised to take over the government using white supremacist forces, the FBI and part of the U.S. military under the command of the Royal Order.
Benjamin Franklin Kravner, our ordinary man placed in extraordinary circumstances, is a trusts-and-estates associate in a prestigious New York firm. Our protagonist’s name evokes images of Benjamin Franklin, a noted man of invention and ideals, and the fictional Benjamin Franklin Pierce, a.k.a. Hawkeye, the unconventional, but principled character from the M.A.S.H. movie and television series, who often devised quirky solutions to problems facing his little part of the world.
Kahn’s Ben has a bit of both of his namesakes’ characteristics to become the lone guy on the run who becomes an unlikely hero to expose the Order and stop an all-out race war.
As an action/legal thriller, the book is slow-going in the middle as the Order plots its evil. It is hard to believe that a family with the resources to attain the power and position it holds could be so easily foiled.
Nevertheless, The Jinx is a clever, well-crafted pageturner that weaves history, politics and the law into an unconventional Washington novel, which, at its best, raises important questions about the state of overt, systemic and subtle racism in the U.S. and in the minds of its citizens and leaders.
Kahn succeeds at keeping Ben imperfect and subject to his own racial fears and bias.
One of the best examples of these internalized feelings lies in Ben’s willingness to have casual sex with a white, Southern woman who fits the patriarchal stereotype of femininity; but he doesn’t even show up to meet the parents of an intelligent African-American woman that he loves because, in part, he is worried about what his own family will think.
The timing of “The Jinx” in this 20-year-jinx election year is no random coincidence.
As campaign rhetoric has taken a tone of renewal for the next millennium, with each candidate offering a vision of America’s future, “The Jinx” also offers its own vision of America’s future that includes working toward the eradication of racism in the next millennium.
Buy The Jinx: