Weapons of Peace, the first novel by mastermind negotiator Peter D. Johnston, starts with a bang—literally. The protagonist, Everett Nash, is shot by Nazis on the beach below Leeds Castle. Like Johnston, Nash is a negotiator. Nash is also a stranger in a strange land, an American recovering in England.
He comes into the care of Nurse Emma Doyle, a young Florence Nightingale-type who Nash quickly grows close with. In his weakened state, he begins to doubt his ability to finish the assignment he was sent on, and so he confides in Emma, trusting her implicitly to help him save the world.
Her mission, should she choose to accept it? Convince Nazi Germany to sabotage its own deadly weapon.
That’s right—the Nazis have an atomic bomb, and they’re ready to use it. Johnston did not dream up this scenario, however. While writing Weapons of Peace, he was inspired by recently resurfaced stories from World War II, one of which concerned Germany’s creation of an atom bomb.
This novel, like all the best World War II novels, draws heavily from history, with even the dialogue feeling period-appropriate. There are lighter moments certainly, such as a challenge Nash gives Emma to secure a large supply of cigarettes for the castle, but the novel understands the gravity of the situation its characters are in, and the weight of the world truly seems to rest on their shoulders.
Nash and Emma are the heart of the novel, their relationship blossoming into one akin to the Millenium trilogy’s Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander or Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Nash is the dashing adventurer on a top-secret mission with international consequences, while Emma is the spunky, fearless heroine prepared to kick butt on a moment’s notice. Readers will identify with one or both of them, and as the story races from England to Germany, it grows harder and harder to put this book down.
It can be tough for historical fiction to have the same edge-of-your-seat effect as novels with modern settings since we already know that Hitler won’t win the war and America will go on to fight another day. However, by creating characters with such heart, such gumption and such heroism that they quickly endear themselves to audiences, Johnston has ensured that your pulse will pound as you read about Nash and Emma’s exploits.
Of course, Johnston has another trick up his sleeve: not all fiction authors can boast that they’re also experts in the field that their novels focus on, but Johnston negotiates for a living, assisting major corporations and governments alike. He brings this knowledge to Weapons of Peace in the form of lessons between Nash and Emma.
An attentive reader might find that they too learn a thing or two about negotiating. So hey, whether you’re gearing up to ask for a raise at work, or looking to get Saturday night off for your poker game, take a pointer from Johnston—he’s a pro.
Weapons of Peace is now available for purchase.
About Peter Johnston
Peter D. Johnston is a renowned negotiation expert and bestselling author of Negotiating with Giants, a nonfiction guide to the art and science of negotiation. His pioneering expertise in asymmetric negotiations is sought worldwide by companies and governments. A former journalist and banker, he is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and has been interviewed by CNN, ABC, Fox, The Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail and Oprah & Friends. His inaugural novel, Weapons of Peace, is the first known work of fiction to explicitly explore the art and science of negotiation and influence.