|About the Book|
An Excerpt from the book-IThe Secretary of Defense, flown in by special plane from the new CapitolBuilding in Denver, trotted down the ramp with his right handoutstretched before him.At the base of the ramp his hand was touched, clutched and hiddenMoreAn Excerpt from the book-IThe Secretary of Defense, flown in by special plane from the new CapitolBuilding in Denver, trotted down the ramp with his right handoutstretched before him.At the base of the ramp his hand was touched, clutched and hidden by theright hand of General Smiley Webb in a hearty parody of a casualhandshake. General Webb did everything in a big way, and that includedeven little things like handshakes.Retrieving his hand once more, James Whitlow, the Secretary of Defense,smiled nervously with his tiny mouth, and said,Well, here I am.This statement was taken down by a hovering circle of news reporters,dispatched by wireless and telephone to every town in the forty-ninestates, expanded, contracted, quoted and misquoted, ignored andmisconstrued, and then forgotten- all this in a matter of hours.The nation, hearing it, put aside its wonted trepidations, took an extratranquilizer or two, and felt secure once more. The government was ingood hands.Leaving the reporters in a disgruntled group beyond thecyclone-fence-and-barbed-wire barriers surrounding Project W, GeneralWebb, seated beside Whitlow in the back of his private car, sighed andfolded his arms.Youll be amazed! he chortled, nudging his companion with a bonyelbow.I--I expect so, said Whitlow, clinging to his brief case with bothhands. It contained, among other things, a volume of mystery stories anda ham sandwich, neatly packaged in aluminum foil. Whitlow didnt want tochance losing it. Not, at least, until hed eaten the sandwich.Of course, youre wondering where I got the idea for my project, saidSmiley Webb, adding, for the benefit of his driver, Keep your eyes onthe road, Sergeant! The WAC barracks will still be there when you getoff duty!Yes, sir, came a hollow grunt from the front seat.Werent you? asked General Webb, gleaming a toothy smile in Whitlowsdirection.Werent I _what_? Whitlow asked miserably, having lost the thread oftheir conversation due to a surreptitious glance backward at the WACbarracks in their wake.Wondering about the project! snapped the general.Yes. We _all_ were, said the Secretary of Defense, appending somewhattartly, Thats why they _sent_ me here.To be sure. To be sure, General Webb muttered. He didnt much liketartness in responses, but the Secretary of Defense, unfortunately, washardly a subordinate, and therefore not subject to the generals choler.Silly little ass! he said to himself. Rather liking the sound of thewords--albeit in his mind--he repeated them over again, addingembellishments like pompous and mousy and squirrel-eyed. Afterthree or four such thoughts, the general felt much better._I_ thought the whole thing up, myself, he said, proudly.I wish youd stop being so ambiguous, Whitlow protested in a smallvoice. Just what _is_ this project? How does it work? Will it help uswin the war?