The Paris Deception by David O. Stewart

As a lawyer, David O. Stewart argued before juries, judges, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. Supreme Court.  Now, he writes history and historical novels, looking for the people behind the stories, and for the stories that have been missed or misunderstood. In his novel The Paris Deception, he brings to light the aftermath of World War One, the people involved, the wheeling and dealing that set in motion circumstances that continue to affect us today.

History can help us formulate useful questions and prompt warnings about our own times. This is the case with The Paris Deception. Through the characters of President Woodrow Wilson, French Premier Georges Clemenceau, and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George we gain insight on the conflicting values of countries, on the complexities of building peace, and on the weight of great responsibility. We see the United States in its ascendancy, Britain as its empire begins to fade, and the total collapse of Germany.

There have been many WWI novels: stories of families torn apart, the chaos and horror of war, the ineptitude of leaders, the longing for home; stories of intense camaraderie, unfaltering duty and heroism; stories of tragic loss and lives forever and devastatingly altered.

But what do we know about the peace process that followed WWI? Which leaders led the way or blocked the path to some sort of justice? Which borders changed and why? Which new countries were created? Which special interests were served? How did the conditions of peace sow the seeds for WWII and beyond? The Paris Deception is this novel.

I had the privilege of writing a foreword to The Paris Deception, which relaunched yesterday and asked David a few questions about the story.

What or who was the inspiration for your main characters James Fraser and Speed Cook?

Both characters were drawn from history, though they are only dimly recorded. The first book in this series – The Lincoln Deception – begins with a Delphic deathbed disclosure by former Congressman John Bingham of Cadiz, Ohio, to his doctor, concerning the John Wilkes Booth Conspiracy. So I decided that the small-town doctor, James Fraser, who heard that deathbed disclosure would become obsessed with it, and become one of my protagonists. I wanted him to have a co-investigator, which allows different personalities, and different talents, to be applied to the case. I discovered a fascinating contemporary figure, Moses Fleetwood Walker, who came from nearby Steubenville and was the last African-American to play in organized baseball between the 1880s and Jackie Robinson. Walker (the real person) was an aggressive “race man” who challenged the triumphant Jim Crow culture of the era. I thought he would make a fascinating foil and complement, rechristened Speed Cook, to my small-town doctor (James Fraser).

In light of today’s momentous support for Black Lives Matter, what aspects of the treatment of black Americans during World War One stand out for you?

I had a number of opportunities for the story to highlight the terrible wrongs inflicted on African-Americans then – and still today. Speed Cook’s son serves in an all-black unit known as the Harlem Hellfighters, but all the officers had to be white, and the American general staff didn’t want to use these soldiers at all. Consequently, that unit ended up fighting under French army command, and earning high distinction. Cook’s son, Joshua, also falls victim to a racist prosecution for desertion, while Cook himself is working with W.E.B. Du Bois, who came to Paris during the 1919 peace conference to be part of the Pan-African Congress. Finally, I was able to portray President Woodrow Wilson’s racism in private settings. Wilson grew up in Georgia after the Civil War and had the racist attitudes of that time and place, right down to the “darky” jokes he liked to tell.

Weaving real and fictional characters is a challenge for historical fiction authors. Why did you choose the real characters you did choose and how did you preserve authenticity?

The Paris Peace Conference offers a smorgasbord of fabulous historical characters. To give a grounding in the swirling negotiations of the peace conference, the story features cameo appearances by W.E.B. Du Bois, Winston Churchill, Chaim Weizmann, and Mark Sykes (of the hideous Sykes-Picot Treaty that whacked up the Middle East between France and Britain). More fully integrated into the story are marvelous characters like T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) and French Premier Georges Clemenceau (one of my favorites). Three central characters for the story are President Wilson and two of his aides, the brothers Allen Dulles (future head of the CIA and a spy during World War I) and John Foster Dulles (future Secretary of State and an important figure in the American delegation). In pursuit of authenticity, I studied contemporary photographs of each, listened to voice recordings if they were available, and read contemporary accounts of the impressions they made on people.

Through the fictional characters of The Paris Deception, we also experience the war in flashback, understand the devastation brought about by the Spanish Flu, and feel the agony of having a son go off to war. Beyond being a wonderful story, The Paris Deception is history that is highly relevant for today.

The Paris Deception by David O. Stewart ~~ In the wake of The Great War, the city of Paris unites in jubilant celebration at the arrival of United States President, Woodrow Wilson. But amidst the prospect of peace, Parisians are dying as the Spanish influenza reaches epidemic proportions.

An expert on the deadly illnesses, Dr. Major Jamie Fraser, is called in to advise the president’s own doctor on how best to avoid the deadly disease and discovers, despite Wilson’s robust appearance, the man is frailer than most realize.

While trying to determine the source of Wilson’s maladies, Fraser encounters a man he has not seen for nearly twenty years: Speed Cook–ex-professional ball player and now advocate for Negro rights. Cook is also desperate to save his son Joshua, an army sergeant wrongly accused of desertion.

Pledging to help Cook, Fraser approaches Allen Dulles, an American spy, who is also Wilson’s close aide.

Soon Cook and Fraser’s quest intersects with dramatic events when the French premier, Georges Clemenceau, narrowly survives an assassination attempt, and the Paris Peace Convergence begins to unravel.

When the precarious German government balks at the grim terms of the peace treaty, Cook and Fraser discover that to save Joshua, they must find a way to preserve the fragile treaty, which may be the only barrier standing between Europe and another brutal war.

You can also read about The Lincoln Deception


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website

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5 Responses

  1. What Bingham told Stanton led Stanton to kill himself. There were two historical branches of the Stanton’s the second branch involved the intermarried likes of the Binghams, the Foote family ( extension of Frances Adeline Steward). Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Tappan family one of which Benjamin Tappan married Oella Stanton sister of Edwin. Far more closely related to the second branch of the Stanton family. Another of the Tappan family was married to mother of William Tilton Clark in whose bed Lincoln died.
    The Peterson house land and the rebuilt area of the Petersen house was originally owned by ninian beall related to the Todd’s and John Yates beall of Canada who was used to incriminate JWB. Other relations were the confederate secretary of war and the Todd cousin Bullock both of whom had occupied the Peterson house. more interestingly was Charles rector who married Louisa Peterson. The Petersons and rectors were german family connected to the Scottish Royalty. The death of the Peterson was not coincidental in that he too whether he knew it or not was involved with the assassination via family. Either way he knew far too much about the royal family involvement with Lincoln’s assassination as did Mary Surratt subsequently innocent and Hung.
    Another related Bingham was the famous murderer lord Lucan a close relation to Princess Diana. There were also at least two branches of the Todd family known, one to the Binghams and Foote families. The second branch of the Todd’s lived in pontefract in England their neighbours were the Binghams.
    Far closer to the second branch of the Stanton family was Edwin’s Stanton’s second wife Ellen Hutchison and it was the second branch of the Stanton’s that fed the false information to Edwin Stanton about booth and the conspirators.
    All of the judges and witnesses to the assassination of Lincoln were related the British royals. JWB and the so called conspirators were framed by the information given to Stanton who then could not live with the fact that he had murdered the conspirators with information given to him by his family.
    Frances Adeline Seward embellished the false assassins of Lincoln with the falsehood of the Seward attack ( they being related to the Binghams.)
    Interestingly the abdicated king Edward which then entered Elizabeth ll ,that abdication of king Edward married Wallis Simpson .Wallis simpson was related to both Jessie James and Joseph holt the conspirator trial Judge.
    Interestingly the abdicated king Edward and Wallis Simpson lived in an apartment in Paris France . That apartment was then purchased and lived in by Al Fayed the father of Al Fayed that died with Princes Diana.
    Princess Diana was of the Stuart family of kings which wer outed by the incoming Germans of Queen Victoria and the Hanovians.
    King Charles and Lady Diana’s Family were effectively enemies.
    The family of Princess Diana killed Abraham Enloe Lincoln whose father Abraham Enloe was married to Sarah Egerton who was related to the British royalty. Which is why Lincoln’s Birth was covered up.
    Such is a little of the bigger picture of the Lincoln assassination.
    Edwin Stanton and the Binghams were also intermarried with family of Charles Guiteau the assassin of James Garfield especially now they then knew how to get away with assassination via Lincoln.
    Princess Diana’s questionable death was investigated by the appointed investigator of the then prime minister James Cameron who was also related to those involved in the falsehood of the Lincoln assassination.
    Have I written a book yet? Haha I have hundreds to write !

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