‘Leslie Slote’ is the second character to be analyzed from Herman Wouk’s War and Remembrance.

He is a redeemed preppie. Leslie Slote is a recent Princeton alumnus who works for the State Department. A refined and intellectual man, he falls for, and loses, Natalie Jastrow, the Ali McGraw/Jane Seymour female hero of the epic novel (and television mini-series).

Slote, a gentile who is unusually sensitive to the oncoming disaster that will become the Holocaust of European Jewry, starts to become a ‘squeaky wheel’ in Washington, as he carries early evidence of Nazi atrocities to his superiors in Foggy Bottom. No one listens to him, no one wishes to listen.

Leslie Slote is the picture of a man who sees prophetically, and is disbelieved and snubbed. Not all his admired Ivy League sophistication and private school network are able to succeed in getting Washington to look, and act. Finally, in total despair, he volunteers for “behind the lines” duty in France. That becomes his core existential act, what he does when his righteous “crusade” fails flat forever (tho’ we know he is ultimately justified a thousand fold).

Leslie Slote’s hurried and indistinct telephone conversation with his former rival in romance, Byron Henry, toward the end of War and Remembrance (pp. 982-983) carries within it a sort of wise counsel for the ages.  You, dear reader, have got to listen to this conversation!

Leslie Slote  answers a basic question of life:

What do you do when you can’t do anything?
What alternative does a person have when he or she is stonewalled in the exercise of all good and human hope?
What do you do when you can’t do anything?
Leslie Slote becomes a glorious hero, the spokesman of a mystic truth in the first rank, and a truly excellent … lover.

Listen here. This series of three talks is dedicated to W. Drake Richey.