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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Just in time for the nation's birthday comes a new book from John Jakes! Praised as America's preeminent writer of historical fiction and "a master of the ancient art of storytelling" (The New York Times Book Review), Jakes continues to deliver one literary home run after another. Who else can make history come so alive? The Kent Family Chronicles, the North and South trilogy, and the New York Times bestseller Homeland are chock-full of fascinating historical detail and colorful personalities. Homeland, a towering tale of a German-American immigrant dynasty, made it clear that Jakes had begun one of his most ambitious and exceptional epics to date. Almost immediately, enthusiastic fans began writing Jakes fan letters asking about the next installment in the Crown Family Chronicles.
American Dreams, a sweeping saga of passion, adventure, glory, ambition, and hope, is the much-anticipated follow-up. The Crown family now stands at the threshold of a new millennium, a remarkable age of promise and opportunity. Everything seems possible, yet the distant rumble of war foreshadows turbulence and tragedy. Certainly it is an exciting time to be alive. Jakes was drawn to this period, he says, because, "in little more than ten years, America, and the world, went from idyllic golden summers of peace to the bleak and bloody winter of war — war so apocalyptic, so destructive, it could hardly be imagined by most of those living at the time."
Spanning 1906 to 1917, American Dreams charts the triumphs and tragedies of three extraordinarydreamerswho all struggle to make their mark in one of America's burgeoning industries. We meet 26-year-old Fritzi Crown, daughter of successful beer brewer Joe Crown, and a woman of fierce determination and formidable ambition. Fritzi yearns for the excitement of life on the stage, but pursuing an acting career will mean defying her wealthy father and social convention. Through this young starlet's eyes, on her road from starvation to stardom, Jakes incorporates fascinating detail about the early days of the film industry. Readers meet Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Fatty Arbuckle, D. W. Griffith, and Erich von Stroheim, among other real-life notables.
Meanwhile, Fritzi's brother, Carl Crown, is searching for a higher purpose in his life after being thrown out of Princeton. His secret dream of flying takes him from Henry Ford's Detroit to the war-torn European skies as a daring aviator. His cousin Paul also finds his fortunes drastically altered by the impending war. An idealistic filmmaker and acclaimed author, Paul sacrifices his own career in the name of truth by screening footage of the atrocities of the German army. Returning to Europe intent on obtaining more war footage, Paul experiences a devastating personal loss in the trenches that is a precursor to the violence to come.
With its abundance of period history, historical fact, and highly entertaining prose, American Dreams is sure to please Jakes fans and newcomers alike.