Red, White and Blue

Overview

From Compromising Positions to Lily White, Susan Isaacs has written seven critically acclaimed novels, all unforgettable New York Times bestsellers that have enthralled and touched her numerous fans. Now, she delivers her most powerful story yet, the gripping saga of two ordinary strangers whose hearts and lives will be joined in a most extraordinary way. . . .

A straight shooter in every sense, FBI agent Charlie Blair has the numbing job of a bureaucrat and the soul of a ...

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Overview

From Compromising Positions to Lily White, Susan Isaacs has written seven critically acclaimed novels, all unforgettable New York Times bestsellers that have enthralled and touched her numerous fans. Now, she delivers her most powerful story yet, the gripping saga of two ordinary strangers whose hearts and lives will be joined in a most extraordinary way. . . .

A straight shooter in every sense, FBI agent Charlie Blair has the numbing job of a bureaucrat and the soul of a cowboy. Dying a slow death from lack of purpose, he jumps at the chance to leave behind Dairy Queen vanilla cones and the History Channel to infiltrate a paramilitary group in Wyoming. Charlie's not the only one hot on the trail, however. Lauren Miller, a bright, ambitious New York journalist, has arrived in Jackson Hole and is bent on finding these extremists for a career-making scoop. On the surface, this whiter than whitebread mountain man and the independent, urbane East-coast writer seem worlds apart. But they share more than they can ever imagine—including a great-great-grandmother and a mutual desire for justice that will spark not only a powerful passion for the truth . . . but an irresistible passion for each other too.

 

Spanning the 20th century, this multigenerational saga focuses on Lauren Miller and Charlie Blair, strangers from opposite sides of the continent, who are drawn together by an appalling hate crime and their mutual passion for justice.

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Editorial Reviews

Nora Krug
Red, White and Blue is nothing if not a delightful diversion.
The New York Times Book Review
Entertainment Weekly
A passionate page-turner...Should earn the allegiance of her countless devoted fans.
New York Times Book Review
Delightful.
Seattle Times
Isaacs excels at keeping the reader entertained.
Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
Superior entertainment...A funny, suspenseful, true-to-life novel.
Clevland Plain Dealer
Isaacs delivers.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The story of Jewish immigrants in America is a staple of commercial fiction. Still, it is a surprise to find Isaacs, usually the provider of zippy dialogue and suspenseful plots, writing a lackluster novel in this genre. In the first part of this multigenerational saga, she follows the offspring of Dora Schottland and Herschel Blaustein, loutish products of European shtetls whose unhappy union produces descendants who will exemplify dramatically different American experiences. Jake Blaustein, larcenous grifter and general no-goodnik, stays one step ahead of the law by decamping a train in Wyoming, where he changes his name to Blair, marries a half-Indian woman and forgets his Jewish heritage. His sister, Ruthie, stays in New York and marries a successful Jewish lawyer who is killed in WWII. Her children and grandchildren remain identifiably Jewish but not religiously observant. In the second half of the book, the great-great-grandchildren of Dora and Herschel meet unaware of the fact that they are related, however. Lauren Miller, reporter for the Long Island Jewish News, encounters her distant cousin, FBI agent Charlie Blair, in Jackson Hole. Instant passionate attraction flares between them--though, of course, many obstacles stand in the way of their happiness. Both are on the trail of members of a violent militia that spews racial and anti-Semitic rhetoric. Here the book finally develops some suspense. Isaacs has done her homework well; her depiction of white-supremacist groups is informative and convincing. But the sappy love story overwhelms even this aspect of the narrative, and by the time Isaacs winds up waving the flag in celebration of the values that unite Americans, this sincerely patriotic novel is as heavy as a stale bagel. Editor, Larry Ashmead. Literary Guild main selection; Doubleday Book Club alternate. Nov.
Library Journal
Isaacs (Lily White) gets really serious here with the story of Westerner Charlie Blair, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who is about to infiltrate a white supremacist group, and Lauren Miller, hired by the Jewish News to document the group's anti-Semitism. Their link? Unknown to them, they are both descendants of Jewish immigrants who met on the way to America.
Nora Krug
Red, White and Blue is nothing if not a delightful diversion. -- The New York Times Book Review
Sharon Cleary
October 1998

Continental Divide

Bestselling author Susan Isaacs presents an exhilarating, intensely moving, and quintessentially American tale in her eighth novel, Red, White and Blue. Spanning the 20th century, this multigenerational saga focuses on Lauren Miller and Charlie Blair, distant cousins on opposite sides of the continent, who are drawn together by an appalling hate crime and their mutual passion for justice.

Our heroine, Lauren Miller, is 27 and disappointed with her life's achievements: "By now, a genuine Young American Who Will Make the Future Bright would have been able to make banner headlines by tracing an inadvertent aside after a peers conference all the way up to the White House," Lauren wryly reminds herself. But as a reporter at the tiny, cash-poor, New York-based Jewish News, she has found the story that could launch her into the journalistic big leagues. The growing strength of neo-Nazi groups in Wyoming and Idaho assails her Long Island-temple-weaned sensibilities. A recent bombing of a Jewish-owned video store in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, piques Lauren's interest, and though her assertion that the "attack" is anti-Semitic seems tenuous, she feels it's worth on-site investigation. Unfortunately, her patronizing editor, Eli Bloom, disagrees: "Girlie, who do you think you are? Nellie Bly? Anyhow, what do you know from this kind of stuff?"

After Eli assigns her to cover the opening of "Milk@Honey, a kosher cybercafe in Great Neck," Lauren quits, slamming a convincing yet invalid plane ticket on his desk for effect. Eli, panicked about losing his most overworked employee, lures her back with the promise of a two-week reporting trip to Montana. Lauren agrees, then, working on a hot tip, heads to Wyoming instead. Meanwhile, half a continent away, special agent Charlie Blair of the FBI is heading west to Jackson Hole to infiltrate Wrath, a neo-Nazi organization that may or may not be involved in anti-Semitic subterfuge. His job is to determine the nature of the threat and "get the hell out." As he drives, Charlie's mind wanders to his wife, Stacey, who "has long since moved out of his bed, out of his house, out of his state, over to Colorado Springs so their 12-year-old daughter, Morning, can train with one of the top coaches in American figure skating." Maybe that's why Charlie's practically broke. Nonetheless, he's happy as he focuses on the road ahead of him, because he grew up outside of Jackson, on a ranch that belonged to his family for generations. Charlie knows every inch of the area, and practically everyone knows him -- at least, they did the last time he was there, some 30-odd years ago. Charlie "has been dying of a lack of purpose," but "soon he will become the man he was born to be."

Lauren and Charlie share a secret of which neither is aware: The unlikely pair are distant cousins. Isaacs devotes a third of Red, White and Blue to explaining the complex link. At first, I was worried that the story would be bogged down by historical background, but Isaacs pulls it off with energy and sharp character sketches. Isaacs depicts Lauren and Charlie's ancestors with a surprising sense of pathos, relieved by the often wry humor of their circumstances. Jake Blaustein, a gangster's protégé on New York's Lower East Side in the '20s, splits town when his boss learns that Jake has been skimming profits from his weekly deliveries (he's also courting his boss's girl on the side). Dora Schottland, "a 15-year-old orphan from somewhere east of Budapest," looks out at New York Harbor from the deck of the SS Polonia in the first decade of this century. She's two-and-a-half-months pregnant and is considering throwing herself into the whitecap-specked water. She doesn't want to tell Herschel Blaustein, her fiancé, that the child she's carrying is not his. She marries him, and because he loves her, he believes that the child is premature. But by far the most affecting chronicle is that of Sally Ann Wolf, who meets her future husband, Martin Freund, while serving him "a tuna on rye toast with tomato" at the Lexington Avenue lunch counter where she works. That day he waits outside the shop for her and walks her to the Hunter College library, where she is returning an art history book on Raffaello: "[B]y the time they reached the library...Sally Ann Wolf learned that Marty had taken the afternoon off from Steinberg & Mendelson, counselors-at-law, because once and for all, he had to know...if the beautiful girl with the luminous black eyes behind the counter at the coffee shop...was truly as wonderful as she looked." The description of their marriage is sweetly luminous. I won't reveal what happens -- suffice it to say that Isaacs will draw the lovelorn to lunch counters in flocks. (Susan, please write a book about the Freunds!)

Meanwhile -- speaking of love -- Charlie and Lauren meet in Wyoming. He notices her "heart-shaped face" as she interviews Vernon Ostergard, the leader of Wrath, and she sees Charlie waiting for Vern outside the general store. Using either women's or reporter's intuition, Lauren determines that Charlie doesn't quite fit in at Wrath. She tracks him down at the auto shop where he works and confronts him with her doubts about his affiliation. He's not sure whether to shoot her or kiss her. But ultimately the choice is clear.

This latest departure from Isaacs's standard repertoire will be a refreshing surprise for her fans. The geographical shift from east to west works for her; she's found a fresh tableau in Wyoming, and although the link to New York is a bit of a stretch, it makes sense with the familial texture Isaacs offers. The story is a timeline that has preserved the precious anecdotes that make forgotten great-aunts and uncles come alive again, an exciting read that makes transcontinental falling in love look effortless. Susan Isaacs surely adds another blockbuster to her roster of bestsellers with Red, White and Blue.

--Sharon Cleary

Kirkus Reviews
With keen humor and fine characterizations, the bestselling Isaacs's (Lily White, 1996) multi-generational saga explores the nature of American identity. Opening with a description of all-American Charlie Blair, a Wyoming FBI agent on the trail of a local militia group, and then jumping to the life of Lauren Miller, a New York reporter for the Jewish News who's uncovering the latest in anti-Semitic bombings, the narrative unexpectedly mingles their lives: unbeknownst to all, they share a great-great-grandmother and the thread of a representative tale—the struggle to become American. What or who was their missing link? On sighting the Statue of Liberty, one Herschel Blaustein proposed to little Dora Schottland (already a couple of months pregnant, thanks to a dashing cad). She prudently accepted, later bearing Jacob, who'll become Jake Blair when he makes it to Wyoming, and Ruthie, great-grandmother to Lauren. The split family tree, with one branch entering a "traditional" American frontier life, and the other remaining Jewish and New Yorkish, offers a fascinating example of the subtle changes undertaken for assimilation's sake (not to mention for the purposes of Isaacs' storytelling). When the plot returns to present-day Wyoming, Lauren spots the man of her dreams. Unfortunately, he's a new convert to Wrath, the anti-Semitic group she's in Jackson Hole to cover. Lo and behold, that handsome piece of America is our very own Charlie Blair, undercover. As things progress, he's in imminent danger from the various nut cases he's informing on. This turn of event shifts the novel's pace, turning the last pages into a race between good guys and bad. Nevertheless, thanks toIsaacs's graceful touch, the quality of the story is never jeopardized. Both on the large scale and the small, an absorbing chronicle of the American character.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061093104
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/4/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 592
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Isaacs
Susan Isaacs
"I can think of no other novelist -- popular or highbrow -- who consistently celebrates female gutsiness, brains, and sexuality. She's Jane Austen with a schmear," said National Public Radio's Fresh Air of Susan Isaacs.

Biography

Susan Isaacs, novelist, essayist and screenwriter, was born in Brooklyn and educated at Queens College. After leaving school, she worked as an editorial assistant at Seventeen magazine. In 1968, Susan married Elkan Abramowitz, a then a federal prosecutor. She became a senior editor at Seventeen but left in 1970 to stay home with her newborn son, Andrew. Three years later, she gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. During this time she freelanced, writing political speeches as well as magazine articles. Elkan became a criminal defense lawyer.

In the mid-seventies, Susan got the urge to write a novel. A year later she began working on what was to become Compromising Positions, a whodunit set on suburban Long Island. It was published in 1978 by Times Books and was chosen a main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. Her second novel, Close Relations, a love story set against a background of ethnic, sexual and New York Democratic politics (thus a comedy), was published in 1980 by Lippincott and Crowell and was a selection of the Literary Guild. Her third, Almost Paradise, was published by Harper & Row in 1984, and was a Literary Guild main selection; in this work Susan used the saga form to show how the people are molded not only by their histories, but also by family fictions that supplant truth. All of Susan's novels have been New York Times bestsellers. Her fiction has been translated into thirty languages.

In 1985, she wrote the screenplay for Paramount's Compromising Positions, which starred Susan Sarandon and Raul Julia. She also wrote and co-produced Touchstone Pictures' Hello Again. The 1987 comedy starred Shelley Long and Judith Ivey.

Her fourth novel, Shining Through, set during World War II, was published by Harper & Row in 1988. Twentieth-Century Fox's film adaptation starred Michael Douglas and Melanie Griffith. Her fifth book, Magic Hour, a coming-of-middle-age novel as well as a mystery, was published in January 1991. After All These Years was published in 1993; critics lauded it for its strong and witty protagonist. Lily White came out in 1996 and Red, White and Blue in 1998. All the novels were published by HarperCollins and were main selections of the Literary Guild. In 1999, Susan's first work of nonfiction, Brave Dames and Wimpettes: What Women Are Really Doing on Page and Screen, was published by Ballantine's Library of Contemporary Thought. During 2000, she wrote a series of columns on the presidential campaign for Newsday. Long Time No See, a Book of the Month Club main selection, was published in September 2001; it was a sequel to Compromising Positions. Susan's tenth novel is Any Place I Hang My Hat (2004).

Susan Isaacs is a recipient of the Writers for Writers Award and the John Steinbeck Award. She serves as chairman of the board of Poets & Writers and is a past president of Mystery Writers of America. She is also a member of the National Book Critics Circle, The Creative Coalition, PEN, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the International Association of Crime Writers, and the Adams Round Table. She sits on the boards of the Queens College Foundation, the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Association, the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and is an active member of her synagogue. She has worked to gather support for the National Endowment of the Arts' Literature Program and has been involved in several anti-censorship campaigns. In addition to writing books, essays and films, Susan has reviewed books for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and Newsday and written about politics, film and First Amendment issues. She lives on Long Island with her husband.

Biography courtesy of the author's official web site.

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Isaacs:

"My first job was wrapping shoes in a shoe store in the low-rent district of Fifth Avenue and saying ‘Thank you!' with a cheery smile. I got canned within three days for not wrapping fast enough, although I suspect that often my vague, future-novelist stare into space while thinking about sex or lunch did not give me a smile that would ring the bell on the shoe store's cheer-o-meter."

"I constantly have to fight against the New York Effect, an overwhelming urge to wear black clothes so everyone will think, Egad, isn't she chic and understated! I'm not, by nature, a black-wearing person. (I'm not, by nature, a chic person either.) I like primary colors as well as bright purple, loud chartreuse, and shocking pink. And that's just my shoes."

"I'm not a great fan of writing classes. Yes, they do help people sometimes, especially with making them write regularly. But the aspiring writer can be a delicate creature, sensitive or even oversensitive to criticism. I was that way: I still am. The problem begins with most people's natural desire to please. In a classroom situation, especially one in which the work will be read aloud or critiqued in class, the urge to write something likable or merely critic-proof can dam up your natural talent. Also, it keeps you from developing the only thing you have is a writer -- your own voice. Finally, you don't know the people in a class well enough to figure out where their criticism is coming from. A great knowledge of literature? Veiled hostility? The talent is too precious a commodity to risk handing it over to strangers."

"Writing is sometimes an art, and it certainly is a craft. But it's also a job. I go to work five or six days a week (depending how far along I am with my work-in-progress). Like most other people, there are days I would rather be lying in a hammock reading or going to a movie with a friend. But whether you're an artist or an accountant, you still have to show up at work. Otherwise, it is unlikely to get done."

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    1. Hometown:
      Sands Point, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 7, 1943
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Education:
      Honorary Doctorate, Queens College
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


On a glacial December afternoon in the final year of the last century, a certain Herschel Blaustein, a thirty-six-year-old winemaker from a shtetl not many kilometers out of Cracow, stood on the lurching deck of the SS Polonia and snatched the chapped but finely shaped hand of Dora Schottland, a fifteen-year-old orphan from somewhere east of Budapest. At the very moment the Statue of Liberty came into view, his great, blue-stained fingers closed over her diminutive reddened ones. When at last he found the words (Yiddish words), they came close to being blown back to Europe by the cruel wind. Still, Dora was able to hear them. "Marry me, my little American prune shnecken." He had rehearsed "apple shnecken" the night before, but at the last minute realized that apple was too prosaic a pastry to entice a romantic and sparkly eyed young girl.

Dora was already sick to her stomach--thanks not only to the roiling waters of New York Harbor but also to being two and a half months pregnant, courtesy of one Shmuel Gribetz, a slick piece of work with blue eyes from Belarus, who had passed himself off as an itinerant Torah scribe on his way to Vienna, except--Shmuel had confided to her as the sun set--he was praying that he would not have to enter that thrilling, sinful city without the company of a good Jewish wife. As the moon began to rise, he sighed: I love you, Dora. When it reached its height, he beseeched her: Marry me, Dora, my angel. Without actually taking their vows, they consummated them at midnight.

Now, with "prune shnecken," Dora's nausea became unbearable. She was no dope: To acquiesce to prune shnecken was to concedethe end of dreams. Such turbulence inside her! Her poor head spun like a windmill. What little food she had been able to swallow that morning--burned beans, rank water, stale bread--sloshed violently from gut to throat to gut again, again and again, like the foam-topped swells crashing against the Polonia. She grew so wretched that she began to understand the deathly magic of those nightmare tales they told below on stormy nights: A nice girl was out on deck, minding her own business, when all of a sudden . . . Oy! Overboard!

Oh, overboard! The solace of no more. She could feel the warmth of that icy black water as it claimed her body for its own. Yet even as her vision narrowed so that all she could see were whitecaps rising, branching into thin plumes--pale fingers beckoning, Come here, Dora, come to me, sweet girl--even as she yanked her hand out of Herschel's paw and took one step, then another and another, rushing to get to the rail, to hurl herself over it, her head was lifted by . . . Who knows by what? By God? Or maybe it was simply that her cheek was slapped so hard by the wind she was forced to look westward. In that instant, her black eyes met the unfathomable copper eyes of Liberty, the Mother of Exiles, and in them Dora found the strength to turn back to Herschel and enunciate her first word of English:

"Yes."

So here we are, just about a hundred years later. Are any of Herschel's or Dora's descendants aware of this fleeting vignette in their histories? Do they even know there were two people named Dora Schottland and Herschel Blaustein? Well, Lauren Miller does have a vague image of her progenitors, although she doesn't know their names. What she pictures is two resolute figures, a tad on the swarthy side, standing at the rail of a ship. Look! There is Great-great-grandpa, thin-faced, with a regal beak of a nose: Imagine a five-foot-six-inch Abraham Lincoln with a skullcap. And right beside him is Great-great-grandma, careworn in her shabby dress and black babushka. This great-great-grandma of Lauren's imagination is twenty-five or thirty years old. She's slightly pudgy. Okay, built like a matzoh ball. Seen close up, her face is already scored by a cobweb of fine lines--she has come from a land without moisturizers. In any case, Lauren envisions tears streaming from their noble immigrant eyes. She hears them sobbing, "America! America!"

Despite Lauren's natural assumption that this touching scene is drawn from ancestral memory, the two faces were actually suggested by a few frames near the end of the movie Yentl, which she happened to glimpse one night in May 1997, as she was flicking through the channels on her way from Comedy Central to Conan O'Brien.

There is no such affecting image for Charlie Blair. He has heard vague references to a Jewish great-great-something, but he is more intrigued by reports of an Indian forebear. That's where he gets his black hair from. A Cheyenne or an Arapaho woman. Whatever. No one in the family remembers much about her, except that she was a beauty and a chief's daughter.Fine, you say. Nice, the ancestor stuff. Now can we get back to Lauren and Charlie? Not quite yet. We need to look at Herschel Blaustein and Dora Schottland and their children and their children's children. We need to understand the process by which our two American heroes became Americans--and whether that great journey from there to here had any meaning.Last, but definitely not least, as we leave this century, isn't it time to inquire: What is an American anyway? It's a critical question to think about now, what with all the virulently anti-government rhetoric abroad in the land. We ought to ask: Now that we've gotten here, what holds us together? What do all of us, with our different American experiences, have in common? Is there an American character? Are Americans somehow different from Europeans and Africans and Asians? What, besides a couple of random genes, do this western mountain man and this eastern suburban woman share?

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Interviews & Essays


Before the live bn.com chat, Susan Isaacs agreed to answer some of our questions:

Q: How would you describe the American melting pot to a foreigner?

A: We are not so much a melting pot as a stew in which the ingredients remain discrete: Meat stays meat, potatoes remain potatoes, and carrots are clearly carrots, even though they go well together and hang out in the same pot. We don't have to give up our regional identities, ethnic differences, and individual quirks. Well, at times there has been pressure to measure up, or down, to some standard, to become a nation of Andy Hardys and Little Miss Markers. But being an American has never meant being blah; from the Puritans on, we've been a passionate bunch. Still, while I celebrate our diversity, I believe the qualities we share -- our optimism, our sense of fairness, our willingness to play by the rules -- are crucial to the flourishing of a democracy made up of the world's people. Look what happened when we disavowed any of these traits. We traded optimism for fear and fatalism and got stuck in the McCarthy era. While we ourselves were fighting bigotry during World War II, we abandoned fair play, turned our back on our own Constitution, and treated our fellow citizens of Japanese descent shamefully.

Q: What do you see as the role of the writer in our ever-changing world?

A: A writer's first duty is to her work: to be a minor deity creating life,fashioning the most authentic universe she can. Second, as a citizen of her country and of the world, she has an obligation to use her talents for the common weal. Right now, I am chairman of the board of Poets & Writers, a great arts organization that works on behalf of all writers and aspiring writers check out our web site, www.pw.org!. I am a member, too, of PEN, Mystery Writers of America, the International Association of Crime Writers, and the National Book Critics Circle. I serve on the boards of my alma mater, Queens College, and several organizations here on Long Island, including the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association.

Q: If you were given a free plane ticket to anywhere, where would you go?

A: Since I want to see and do everything, I would probably wind up on a glorious beach someplace -- St. John in the Virgin Islands, the Big Island in Hawaii -- with a huge bag of books that would take me all the places I want to be.

Q: What are five of your favorite books?

A: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.


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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2001

    A POIGNANT REMINDER OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN AMERICAN

    'If the Statue of Liberty and Uncle Sam had come together for a one-night stand,' their rangy, blue-eyed boy would have been Charlie Blair, Special Agent, FBI. Petite, inquisitive Lauren Miller is 'the child Anne Hutchinson and George Washington never had.' Do the twain ever meet in Susan Isaacs always fresh, sometimes frightening eighth novel, Red, White And Blue? You bet. But first we're introduced to the great-great-grandmother they share: A century ago 15-year-old Dora trembled by the rail of an immigrant laden vessel nudging New York Harbor. She was pregnant and unwed. Therefore, when fellow passenger, winemaker Herschel Blaustein, proposed marriage, Dora uttered her first word of English: yes. They were a mismatched, unhappy pair. He yearned to return to Cracow; she searched crowded streets for the face of her former lover. And, Jake, their early-arriving firstborn is a bit of a crank, perhaps due to the fact that 'Dora had never actually exhibited any behavior that might be construed as mother love.' Ruthie, their second child, with two top front teeth so crooked that they practically made an X was sanguine, believing in romance. As a young man, what glib, handsome Jake lacked in formal education he made up for in legerdemain, raking in jackpot after poker jackpot. Inevitably, he was caught cheating and forced to leap from a moving train smack into frigid Wyoming. Had it not been for the warmth of Queenie Smith's bed and body, Jake would have become a tall ice cube. He changed his name from Blaustein to Blair, remained with Queenie, and sired four children. Willie, their eldest, had dreams. He didn't want to be like his father who couldn't do anything a man was supposed to do - split a log, ride, or shoot. Willie yearned to own a ranch. Fortunately for the cash poor young man along came Lois, heiress to the Circle B. They produced Charles Bryant Blair who, in the fullness of time, fathered our hero, Charlie Blair. In parallel begettings, Ruthie married a brutish ne'er-do-well. She named their daughter Sally Ann because 'It was the most American name Ruthie could think of for a child who, she knew, was going to be in need of a land of opportunity.' Marty Freund was the man Sally Ann married. Their progeny included Barbara, a dependable girl, prone to considering her place in the universe. She wondered if there was any place for her 'from sea to shining sea.' During a Catskills singles weekend Barbara found her niche when she met history teacher Jed Miller. Their daughter, Lauren Miller, has her father's red hair, the black eyes of her great-great-grandmother Dora, and a favorite question - why? Lauren became a reporter, presently employed by the New York based Jewish News. Hearing of a video store bombing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, supposedly a hate crime perpetrated by a group called Wrath, Lauren is convinced that this story is her ticket to fame. She heads West. Suspecting that their Wrath informant is double-dealing, the FBI needs an undercover agent to infiltrate the brace of bigots. Divorced, dissatisfied with his status quo, and willing, Charlie is dispatched to Wyoming. At this point the novel's pace accelerates, spinning into a gripping, rapid-fire thriller. Especially noteworthy is the author's ability to mime the prurient invective spouted by white supremacist groups - one shudders. Working as a garage mechanic, Charlie ingratiates himself with Wrath's leader, Vernon Ostergard - 'Not an obvious nutcase, but a guy who had no interests beyond his own bigotry.' In the process of winning the degenerate leader's confidence, Charlie alienates Ostergard's general, Kyle McIntyre, a psychopathic killer, and one of the slimiest characters to slither across a page. Lauren asks too many questions, and is stalked by Ostergard's lieutenant, Gus Lang, 'A bully, a man who liked to crush things.' Nonetheless, Charlie and Lauren have f

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