Former living president & prime minister as characters in a novel, unusual?

Somebody loaned me Angel of Death by Jack Higgins, pretty much of a potboiler.

What seemed very unusual to me is that he introduced both former President Clinton and former PM Major as characters. Both had a lots of dialog, and while it was probably quite possible some of that took place, much was purely made up to fit the plot.

It’s not unusual to have major historical characters’ dialog as part of historical fiction, but living ones? The usual disclaimer of “this is a work of fiction and…etc, etc” was at the beginning of the book, so how could he get away with this without getting in trouble with the politicians?

They were treated with respect, so perhaps he somehow got permission, but as it entailed some pretty violent cloak-and-dagger stuff, it seems unlikely those two would approve of it.

Any other works where this has been done? It was a surprise to me.

How about Stephen King’s Dark Tower series? He puts himself in as a character in volumes VI and VII

Robert Coover’s The Public Burning (1977) had plenty of living politicians; Richard Nixon was the hero of the book.

Michael Kube-McDowell’s Alternaties mentions then-president Jimmy Carter in passing.

Note that politicians are public figures for the purposes of libel law in the US. This means that they have to prove you knowingly printed a lie as the truth when writing about them. In fiction, you are not representing it as truth; thus it is next to impossible to prove libel when using their names.

It all boils down to the fact that the author does not need to get permission to use the name of a politician (though it’s best not to say bad things about him – even though they may not have a case, they can usually afford lawyers, whereas you can’t). However, the author may ask as a courtesy.