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May 2008

1st Woman President

A Review by Athan Karras

Women’s Liberation is nothing new, at least not to the Ancient Greeks, for the theme was explored explicitly in the plays of Aristophanes, in his bawdy farces with inappropriate language that would have been taboo at the dinner table even then. Yet, he engaged the minds and hearts of his audience by addressing such issues and by revealing underlying truths of equal rights for women.

Throughout history, the Greek male has often been depicted as a “male chauvinist” but if we carefully scratched the surface, we would discover that Greek men realize that it is the woman, as wife and mother, who was (and is) the cornerstone of the family in Greece as well as virtually all societies. Today, Greek women are fully emancipated and participate in many formidable professions including high-level politics. Their most recent role model is Gianna Daskalaki, who did a masterful job organizing the 2004 Olympics. During the eight years preparing for the Games, men in government were caught up in arguments, juggled positions of leadership, over-ran budgets, and constantly mismanaged things to a point where it looked like the Olympics in Greece were doomed to failure until Ms Daskalaki handled this complex task with charm, diplomacy, and professional organizational skills. She persuaded the people to tighten their belts and forth as proud Hellenes whose ancestors had originated the Olympics and had run them for five centuries!

As a long-time advocate of strong women, I was delighted to encounter a recently published novel with the theme of women in politics written by my friend and fellow Greek-American titled 1st Woman President by Stephen O. Hero (Stephanos O. Iroas), which is currently available on the Internet through Xlibris.com, Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble. The book’s title struck me as timely given today’s political race for the White House. This novel’s unusual intellectual artistic “staging” and sweeping language was moved along by the author’s intense insights and Hellenic themes. The heroine Martha Stetson is delineated with perceptive care, covering all the bases from college days, medical training, military service in Kuwait, and her years in Congress. As a deus ex machina, she loses her parents in an accident, but left with a large fortune that is both boon and bane to her existence. She uses her money power to make some profound decisions for herself and her final decision to fight for the U.S. presidency. Stetson’s heroics strongly display a stalwart patriotic and political sensitivity but she remains female with ordinary needs and the dream of Love. Throughout the novel, she confronts her experiences realistically, whether they are successes or failures. One time and place where joy and tragedy cross her life is September 11, 2001—she and her long-time “boyfriend” are tied up with financial dealings at the New York Stock Exchange and in two hours, both of these mortals are totally engulfed in the astounding airplane attack that topples the World Trade Center.

Martha Stetson, in her many roles, has many affairs and knows how to deal effectively in the primary world of the military and D.C. She relates to most men strategically and knows their value; in addition, both in war and in peace, she displays an unwavering, loving, patriotic stand for America and its entire people. The streamlined story runs like a rivulet and through it flow many current and historical incidents; however, it sustains an entertaining level, beyond sitcoms, or catchy nuevo films. It takes place in the middle of current wartime conditions and national political unrest. The conditions confront the reader and prompt one to wonder. Is there no other way?

Perhaps Aristophanes’ Lysistrata (though a bawdy farce) might expose some basic solutions. Dealing with the irrational in man requires a transition to a better human solution than brute exercise of power: War! Perhaps this century may enable women to provide new realistic ways for life on earth that offer inspiration, excitement, and adventure to fulfill the cause celebre for living a full and comprehensive life. The book does not taunt the reader into altering one’s political allegiance nor dictate what must be done by any political party. This novel is fiction at its best and effectively playacts problems and solutions regarding current issues and incidents in Iraq and the Middle East. The valuable conclusion one can come to is that 1st Woman President is a work of art that forecasts that new and better ways, more appropriate for this century are possible.

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