On March 19, 2016, the popular novelist Irving Wallace—my father—would have turned 100 years old. Instead of honoring my father by presenting a review of his achievements and recalling what a generous, warm-hearted person he was and how much enjoyment he brought to millions of readers around the world, I have decided to look at some of the developments he would have most appreciated if he had lived to be 100, instead of dying at the age of 74.
It may seem overly speculative to imagine my father living to 100. However, just ten days earlier, on March 9, 2016, I conducted an extended video interview with a 102-year-old man, Alex Tarics. The interview was part of a project called Words of Olympians, supported by the International Olympic Committee. Mr. Tarics earned a gold medal in water polo at the 1936 Olympics and also was a well-respected structural engineer. As I sat across from Mr. Tarics for several hours, the idea that my father could have reached the age of 100 did not seem at all impossible.
So what did my father miss?
The most obvious development was the election of an African-American president. You see, back in 1964 my father wrote a novel, The Man, about the first black president. His protagonist, Douglass Dilman, is a retired university president who enters politics and unexpectedly becomes president when the people ahead of him in the line of succession die. (After the publication of The Man, the 25th Amendment was passed,…