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A political novel for the whistleblower ... or not.

A Political Novel About The Corporate Takeover of Washington In The Year of The Rhinoceros

Defiance and Dramatic Reversal - A Whistleblower Story or Four

When this Washington novel about the corporate takeover that took place during the Reagan era was first conceived, there were many issues to consider, primary among them being the correct point of view. It would be relatively simple, and predictable, to create a character inside the White House who might report on Reagan, The First Nancy, and White House intrigue--a devotee type like Peggy Noonan, for example. But given my own experience in the depths of the Executive branch, and having observed and studied the trickle-down effect of their psychology and political culture, I realized the novel would be better served by adopting the viewpoint of those working in Washington who were a few degrees removed from the rarefied air of the Reagan White House. The story would be told by characters, and a whistleblower or four who lived with the consequences of his power, and who resisted or amplified that power for their own ends.

The next huge decision involved a choice of setting for the novel. Luckily, before the Reagan regime came to a less-than-honorable end, I discovered the existence of a small agency known as The Office of Special Counsel--one that 99.9 percent of America outside the Washington beltway had never heard of, but one that played a major underground role in seeking out and effectively suffocating Washington insiders and every whistleblower who spoke up against fraud and corruption within the Reagan administration. As I delved further into the documented machinations and sheer hostility practiced by this agency (courtesy of the Government Accountability Project), I read stories of tremendous courage and integrity on the part of people, both liberal and conservative, who witnessed the ongoing corruption first hand and struggled to expose or resist it, or somehow staunch the wound-flow of the billions of dollars being gobbled up every month by administration-favored corporations engaged in fully exploiting their Reagan political advantage.

After all, it was the Year of The Rhinoceros, a truly Orwellian time for all those of conscience and every whistleblower who worked for America's government inside the beltway. The novel marks that period in our history when Washington officially went from D.C. to INC. as the Reagan people, along with bought-and-paid-for members of Congress, allowed corporate shills and lobbyists to enter and rule the city of Washington, from the highest office on Capitol Hill to the most humble snack room at GSA.

By the way, these people in Washington who put their reputations and lives on the line for this country, did so not because they wanted glory, but because they still naively believed in a world where right would win out. They lived to be terribly disappointed, for "doing the right thing" rarely if ever made any difference during those years now glossed over and made to appear like a time of Camelot by many Republicans. Regardless, despite their reversals and the drama played out during those times of turmoil (which continue full force to this day), redemption and hope is found in the knowledge that a few good people did the right thing, however futile or whatever the cost. Their sacrifices, even now, make us wake up and take note, and their dramatic tragedies reveal an injustice in the world without which we would be ignorant.

Based on a true story, real people, and an ugly place in Washington that still protects the guilty, Year of The Rhinoceros dramatizes the struggle of these idealists, both conservative and liberal, who once joined forces to expose and dethrone an American president by the name of Ronald Reagan.

- Michael Neff

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