‘Come Nineveh, Come Tyre‘ was the penultimate political novel penned by Pulitzer Prize winner, Alan Drury in a series that began with ‘Advise and Consent‘ and ended with ‘The Promise of Joy‘.
In the book, a weak and vacillating President faces mounting challenges and incursions from the USSR. Each time he backs down, cheered on by Liberal Democrats. Finally, realizing that he has destroyed America’s exceptional position in the world – and following an attempt by the Joint Chiefs to remove him from office – the Soviets seize control. The president commits suicide, and the reins of power are handed over to his vice-president, a Soviet agent.
Drury refers to the once-great cities of Nineveh and Tyre as a warning of the fate confronting America at the outset of the political novel.
Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city located on the eastern bank of the River Tigris, and the capital of the neo-Assyrian Empire. By 700 BC, it had become a truly magnificent city. In the Bible, it is first mentioned in Genesis 10:11: ‘Ashur left that land and built Nineveh’. Through the Books of Kings and Books of Chonicles, the Assyrian empire is frequently discussed. Nineveh is not again noticed till the days of Jonah, when it is described (Jonah 3:3ff: 4.11) as an ‘exceedingly great city of three days journey in breadth.’ The book of Nahum is almost exclusively taken up with prophetic denunciations against Nineveh. Its ruin and utter desolation are foretold (Nahum 1:14; 3:19). Its end was sudden and tragic (Nahum 2.6-11). According to the Bible, it was God’s doing, his judgment on Assyria’s pride (Jonah Nah). In fulfillment of prophecy, God made ‘an utter end of the place.’ It became a desolation along with the fall of the empire.
In ancient times, Tyre was a heavily fortified island city associated with a mainland settlement called Ushu. It was a commercial center, a bridge between East and West and a key part of the Phoenician empire. In the Holy Bible, the prophet, Ezekial predicted (verse 12) that Tyre would be destroyed by many nations for its wickedness . This prophecy came to pass, first with the invasion by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon and finally, by the invasion by Alexander the Great, who tossed the ruins of mainland Tyre into the sea in order to build the land bridge that enabled him to conquer the island of Tyre. Alexander’s conquest brought a permanent end to the Phoenician empire and, from that point on, the Phoenician city of Tyre ceased to exist.
Alan Drury’s novel, and its warning about what may come to pass for a weak and corrupt America, is relevant today, November 7, 2012, as a weak and vacillating president is returned to office by a coalition of single white women, blacks, Latinos, and voters under the age of 30, with a vote that narrowly defeated those who remain faithful to the old American values of self-reliance and negative freedom.
The wickedness that eats away at America in 2012, is not that of moral depravity and sins of the body. It is the wickedness of a nation that is living beyond its means, the wickedness of a narrow voter majority that seeks to take what it can from its country, not to give what it can to rebuild from its ruins.
Let us hope that Come Nineveh, come Tyre turns out to be the false Alan Drury prophecy and that The Promise of Joy awaits this once exceptional nation as in Alan Drury’s alternative and much-preferred scenario.