Eavesdropping on Presidents: New Book Details ‘Lost Conversation’
Written by best-selling author David R. Stokes, Capitol Limited: A Story about John Kennedy and Richard Nixon is a meticulously researched and vividly imagined novel based on the true story of a discussion between future leaders that lasted long into the night.
Washington, DC – It happened in April 1947 on a legendary train called ‘The Capitol Limited’, as two men bunked down for the night for the trip back to Washington.
The men were John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, fresh from a debate in McKeesport, Pennsylvania earlier that day, but more than a decade away from facing off in their race for the White House.
As the train rocked gently and the darkness rushed by outside the windows, two future Presidents had a conversation that would last hours, spanning history, the onset of the Cold War, and their very personal and political dreams for themselves and the world.
Based on a true story, in his magnificent new novella, Capitol Limited: A Story about John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, author David R. Stokes re-creates this ‘meeting of the minds’ in vibrant and entertaining detail.
LONG BEFORE THEY famously debated each other during the 1960 presidential campaign John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon debated the merits of the new Taft-Hartley labor law in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, in April 1947. But their minds were clearly on bigger things.
As fate would have it, Kennedy and Nixon shared a Pullman compartment on a famous train called The Capitol Limited, the pride of the B&O line, for an overnight trip back to Washington. They stayed awake all night talking about their lives, hopes, and visions for a better world. CAPITOL LIMITED is based on a very true story. Bestselling author David R. Stokes imagines how the conversation might have unfolded that long-ago night.
Based on extensive research, and complete with a lengthy and unusual-for-a-novel bibliography, CAPITOL LIMITED gives readers the chance to eavesdrop as two men have an animated conversation about history, world leaders, and the brewing geopolitical issues they would one day face as leaders of the free world. It was the dawn of the Cold War, and these two former Naval officers were developing a vision for the world, one that would be “tempered by a hard and bitter peace.” And years later, the political torch would be passed to John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, who represented “a new generation of Americans.” They would become America’s premier Cold Warriors. For the author, a brief mention of this encounter lit a fire in his imagination and led to research for the novel.
“It was Chris Matthews of ‘Hardball’ who mentioned the train trip – Jack Kennedy in the top bunk and Richard Nixon in the bunk below – in his book about the two future presidents,” says Stokes. “The men discussing the coming threat in Europe – how Matthews thought it was just about the greatest political poster story of all time, these two leaders discussing these issues as the train sped on to Washington.”
Continuing: “I have re-created that conversation between two men who couldn’t have been more different, but I did so by reading everything I could about their opinions, their attitudes and their feelings. It wasn’t about putting words into their mouths – instead, I wanted to make the reader feel as if they were right there, a fly on the wall, a witness to history.”
About the book:
Capitol Limited by David R. Stokes
Date of publish: January 2014
About the Author:
David R. Stokes (57) is a minister, author, commentator, broadcaster, and columnist. His earlier book, The Shooting Salvationist: J. Frank Norris and the Murder Trial that Captivated America, foreword by Bob Schieffer of CBS News (July 2011 — Steerforth Press/Random House), is a narrative non-fiction, true crime thriller set in the 1920s. BOOKLIST, in a starred review, says: “The book is engagingly written, in an immediate, you-are-there style, and the story is as compelling and surprising as any Grisham thriller. Top of the line.” It was a Wall Street Journal true crime bestseller.