Categories: Arts Literature

Terry Jastrow novel imagines Bush facing war crimes trial

Terry Jastrow, an Emmy Award winning producer (“ABC’s Wide World of Sports,” the Super Bowl, Olympic Games and 60 major golf championships) as well as actor and playwright, has written his first novel “The Trial of Prisoner 043,” which imagines what might happen if George W. Bush were to be prosecuted by an international court for, in essence, starting the Iraq War in 2003. He and his wife, human rights activist and actress Anne Archer, are promoting book on tour in the Bay Area this week.

What made you decide to write this book?

I love America. I think we fight too many wars. In the Iraq War, 4,491 Americans were killed, 230,000 were wounded physically and emotionally, more than 1 million Iraqis died, and $4 trillion was spent in a conflict that did not represent a clear and present danger to the U.S. If people don’t rise up and question, we’ll be subject to more wars.

The book goes into great detail about the International Criminal Court in the Hague, the precise arguments put forth by prosecutors and Bush’s defense team, and has real people such as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Gen. Tommy Franks providing testimony; how did you do your research?

I spent three and a half years, read tons of nonfiction books and hired international criminal law experts. I couldn’t be glib about it. I had to provide full exposure of what Bush did and when he did it.

Why a novel and not a play or screenplay?

I needed a 67,000-word novel to do justice to the topic. It’s the combination of two separate stories — the ICC and prosecutors, up against Bush and his defense team. I had to make both sides compelling and aggressive, and I didn’t want to advocate more for one side. It’s written in a way to so readers can decide for themselves.

Do you have a background in law or politics?

None. But I have one in storytelling. I learned from Roone Arledge and Jim McKay about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, the essence of human drama and its three platforms: man against opponent, man against the environment and man against himself.

Did you take any classes to help you write the book?

Yes — writing courses by Robert McKee, James Patterson and Aaron Sorkin, and an online course in international law by Michael Scharf; I flunked it twice before passing.

Why did you end the book the way you did?

I think it opens the door for a variety of other things that might happen next.

Terry Jastrow
Where: Booksmith@The Bindery, 1727 Haight St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4
Admission: Free
Note: Jastrow also appears at 4 p.m. Aug. 5 at Books Inc. Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness Ave., S.F.; and at 4 p.m. Aug. 6 at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera

The Trial of Prisoner 043
Published by Four Springs Press
Pages: 256
Price: $24

Leslie Katz

San Francisco Examiner’s arts and entertainment editor Leslie Katz has been assigning, editing and/or writing news stories about the Bay Area’s rich cultural scene since 1997. Reach her at (415) 359-2727 or

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