About the Book
During the Cold War, many liberal anti-communist writers, artists, musicians and intellectuals ended up working for organizations that were CIA fronts. CIA protocol dictated that one individual in the various organizations would be investigated, sworn to secrecy, and told about the CIA connection and funding. That individual was, in Agency parlance, witting. Everyone else was unwitting.
On a bright November day in 1963, President Kennedy is shot. That same day, Nell Benjamin receives a phone call with news about her husband, the influential young editor of a literary magazine. As the nation mourns its public loss, Nell has her private grief to reckon with, as well as a revelation about Charlie that turns her understanding of her marriage on its head, along with the world she thought she knew.
With the Cold War looming ominously over the lives of American citizens in a battle of the Free World against the Communist powers, the blurry lines between what is true, what is good, and what is right tangle with issues of loyalty and love. As the truths Nell discovers about her beloved husband upend the narrative of her life, she must question her own allegiance: to her career as a journalist, to her country, but most of all to the people she loves.
Set in the literary Manhattan of the 1950s, at a journal much like the Paris Review, THE UNWITTING evokes a bygone era of burgeoning sexual awareness and intrigue and an exuberance of ideas that had the power to change the world. Resonant, illuminating, and utterly absorbing, THE UNWITTING is about the lies we tell, the secrets we keep, and the power of love in the face of both.