“A masterful storyteller.” — Sacramento Bee
“One of the 21st Century’s most exciting authors.” — Washington Times
“Mike Bond’s books are a national treasure.” — Art Zuckerman, WVOX
Bestselling author Mike Bond is best known for his thrillers. His Pono Hawkins series, along with his novels of international espionage and military action, have garnered him much critical acclaim over the years.
And then he surprised us in 2018 with a volume of poetry, The Drum that Beats Within Us, which spanned a wide range of subjects, from breathtaking studies of wilderness and the natural world to the intimate corners of the human heart, and outward into life’s biggest existential questions.
Mike Bond has done it again, focusing his formidable talents on yet another genre — the historical novel. America (Big City Press) is the first of a planned seven-volume series “capturing the transformations and heartbreaks of the last 70 years, and of our nation’s most profound upheavals since the Civil War — a time that defined the end of the 20th Century and where we are today.” It’s a wildly ambitious project, and Mike Bond is just the guy who can do it.
FOUR FRIENDS SWEPT INTO THE TURBULENCE OF THE 1960s
Set in the ‘60s around Nyack, NY, four kids from disparate backgrounds grow up together. Many people are still earning their living as farmers; it’s an era lost to us — before all the farms are torn down and replaced by schools, retail stores and houses “made out of ticky tacky,” as the song goes.
There is Troy, an orphan living at the local Boy’s Home who escaped many times from the advances of horny priests. He luckily meets Mick, who has a happy home life on a farm with his parents and sister Tara. He is later adopted by Mick’s family when they realize the very close connection the two boys have. They enjoy many adventures together, even trying their luck hopping trains bound for Florida and being hobos for a time. There is Tara, Mick’s little sister and the girl Troy grows to love, who takes off to become a rock star, mostly singing the blues like a young Janis Joplin.
As Troy becomes a man, he joins the service, loving its discipline. His goal is to explore the world of flight and outer space, encouraged by an exuberant and idealistic young president who was aiming to get us to the moon. Mick becomes a rebel who questions the war in Vietnam, as so many of his generation do, and mourns all the unnecessary deaths that wars bring. His girlfriend Daisy ends up moving away with her abusive father and a mother who is brutalized every day. She escapes to join the Peace Corps and eventually to study the human mind.
ECHOES OF A PAST THAT BRINGS OUR PRESENT INTO SHARP RELIEF
America brings to mind classic coming-of-age masterpieces such as Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe. The characters are so vivid and alive, you think you’re reading about old friends and recalling fond memories of youth.
These are young people transformed by their times, by the emergence of the pill and sexual liberation, drugs and, of course, rock music. They are both witness and catalyst as America evolves from a post-World War II nation to a place where women’s rights, civil rights, riots, soul searching, burning cities and bra-burning shake the country’s cultural and political foundations to the core.
We now wonder if this generation had any impact in changing America for the better in the ‘60s, or if its struggles continue today, evolved but not solved. Think Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March on Washington and the environmental movement. We wonder if the youth of today will have to fight the same fights for the same rights all over again. It would behoove them to read this book.
To learn more about Mike Bond, visit his BookTrib author profile page here.
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