An exciting and fast-paced political thriller, The Kennedy Moment is a moving story about how ordinary people with enough passion and ingenuity can effect real and lasting change of huge importance. It is a book that will stay with you long after you’ve finished it.

It’s April 1980 when Stephen Walsh sends a reunion invitation to university friends who haven’t met together for 20 years, “to eat, drink and be miserable, lament how middle-aged we are, and talk about who we were and what we were going to do and what’s become of us all”. This invitation, with postscripts personal to each of them, is sufficiently tempting for Helene, Toby, Michael and Seema to travel to join him for a weekend in Oxford that October. Amidst their discussions, a casual remark, laughed off at first as a joke, leads them all into a daring conspiracy that forms the novel’s plot. We experience their professional lives in Oxford, New York, Washington, Geneva and Abidjan as events unfold and, with the secret that they are now sharing, how their personal lives develop and change.

For 16 years Peter Adamson was Senior Adviser to the Executive Director of UNICEF in New York, and this role enables him to write confidently and convincingly about political realities and what ingredients are needed to build a compelling story that will convince top policy makers and politicians. He also writes knowledgeably about the central theme, the delivery of a mass programme of immunisation, making a complicated subject intelligible for the reader.

The Kennedy Moment is an extraordinary novel. It is very well written – I was captivated from the start and found it hard to put it down until I’d reached the last page. The final section is even more amazing than the novel itself, though you MUST wait until you’ve read the book before you read it. I engaged completely with the sensitively drawn characters, their obsessions, ambitions and disappointments. For example, I was touched by how Toby, the marketing whiz-kid, dissatisfied with what he had achieved, depressed that he is on the downward slope of his career, crafted the most important and amazing speech of his life.

Peter Adamson provides some elegant touches in the presentation of the book. The title of each chapter is actually an extract from the text of that chapter. This acts cleverly as both signpost and ‘teaser’ for what is to follow.

The Kennedy Moment was a great personal read, a powerful story and a recommendation that I will pass on to family and friends. Of course, it will also be a great book for reading groups. Very highly recommended.

Adie Batt 5/5

The Kennedy Moment by Peter Adamson
Myriad 9780995590045 hbk Feb 2018