The Jack Trilogy
An emotional rollercoaster ride through the American Civil War Era.
What is heroism? Readers will discover a complex main character whose quest for adventure, friendship and loyalty, and pursuit of justice above all else in this ultimately heartbreaking story. Readers will delight in Jack’s playful childhood experiences and in his youthful attempts to seek justice while confronting evil and other of life’s problems during his transition to adulthood. As one Amazon customer wrote: “This book is one that I would have my teens read so that they could have a bit of our jagged history put into a context that causes them to be eager to turn the page and find out what happens next. It always takes my breath away to read books like this when I realize how recent this history really was. Definitely, recommend this book especially if you are trying to get your older kids into history!”
ABOUT the BOOK
Book 1 centers on the enmity between Jack and his teacher – a former slave ship preacher who tries to win over his group of Charleston, S.C. youngsters to his self-serving ideas about slavery. But Jack resists his every attempt. Book 2 is a high seas adventure after they and their teacher join a slave ship heading to Cuba to pick up human cargo. In Book 3, the boys enlist in General Lee’s army.
At the outset, the time was during those halcyon days in the American South. Life inched along like the pace of the river in late summer, 1860, that is, slowly, gently, and unhurried. If you were moving about Charleston’s busy central market then, you might have gotten the impression that Charlestonians were innocently happy. They lived day-to-day mostly unaware that soon they would reap the terror of the cannon fire that would rip the very air they breathed and blast their fine architecture and green landscapes to pieces – forever altering the path of American life.
Jeremy Foster, Jack Stone, and Jeremiah Brooks, at the tender ages of 14-15 years as Book One begins, were about to fight the civil war in their own way, months before Fort Sumter in the nearby harbor surrendered, establishing the opening act of the War between the States. But their war was not against the northern invading armies – not yet – nor against the southern rebels.
No, they pitted themselves against a cruel racist schoolmaster – a former ‘preacher’ on a slave ship – who disliked them not so much because they were poor, somewhat illiterate and “uncivilized” in his oh-so-modest opinion. He despised them mainly because those poor, semi-literate, uncivilized “street beggars” and “guttersnipes” refused to accept his grand teachings about the “glorious plantation slavery system that made Charleston, South Carolina, the envy of the world and set it at the pinnacle of an advanced civilization.” And so the conflict began.
Book One, Jack, the Rebel, is a humorous story of two best friends pitting themselves and plotting against their schoolmaster, culminating in a humorous ‘trial’ that the schoolmaster conducts in his little classroom in order to humiliate Jack before the other students by taking away his power as the ‘cool bad boy.’
Book Two, Murder on the High Seas, continues the saga as Jack and Jeremy follow Master Whittemore who has rejoined the ‘merchant service’ but – unknown to the lads – the ship is a slaver whose secret destinations are ports at various Caribbean Sea islands. A romance between the boys and two young ladies in Jamaica develops and the girls insist on helping Jack and Jeremy with their plan to free the ‘slave cargo’ once they are boarded at another island.
Book Three, Friends Forever, relates the story of the boys’ high seas gamble and later as soldiers in General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and the ill-fated Gettysburg campaign.
Why I Wrote the Book
The character, Jack, is not wholly about my former friend who was killed in a car crash in 1971. He is rather a composite character with many similar qualities but with some created ones as well. We met when I was in the first grade, he in the second grade. He was somewhat of a bully even back then but we became friends anyway after he challenged me to a fight on a bus ride home from Groton, Massachusetts, to our nearby town, Pepperell. Jack easily pinned me down and I lost that first battle. But we became close friends from then onward.
For years, I wanted to tell his story and write about something that impacted my life so much but couldn’t find the time or just didn’t have the inclination until I was older. In 2000 when I moved to New York City to teach, I decided the time had come. My idea was a bit novel, I think – I planned to transport Jack, my friend, back into the American Civil War days as I had always had a deep interest in that era. Seventeen years later, the book, The Jack Trilogy, was finally published. Jack in real life was a bit larger than life – excelling in many sports, popular, and he usually could be found cooking up some kind of adventure. It seemed that something grand always was happening around him
The book character, Jack, and the real-life character were the same and different. The latter had aspirations of being a hero while I created Jack the character as a genuine hero. So, in a way, I made Jack the hero that, seemingly, he always had wanted to become. That transformation helped to create the vivid power of Jack the book character. I think he would have been happy with the result.
Another character in the book, Mike, was in real life a friend of mine who literally hated Jack and Jack certainly returned that feeling toward Mike. In the book due to plot reasons, I ascribed several positive qualities to both characters which were not necessarily true in real life. It was more a way of seeing them in a much more positive vein than was actually the case. But that is fiction for you.
In the end, Jack became the hero in the novel that he struggled to become in life but had not even remotely achieved and Mike led a dysfunctional life in actuality but came off as a quite normal person in the book. Ironic to say the least.Why would readers want to experience such a story? It’s actually quite simple. I wanted to portray Jack in the best light that I could while staying within the boundaries of his deficiencies. This I believe I have accomplished. I think that many readers will relate to such a character with all of his human strengths and frailties.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I’m an ex-pat originally from the USA and living since 2015 in Thailand with my wife, Uraiwan, our three dogs (two who we flew to Thailand from Los Angeles after my last cross-country journey) , and granddaughter, Smile, 20 months, in Issan Province where I am writing new books after a marathon 2017-18 when I completed my trilogy and other works.
I retired from teaching in 2013 after 13 years in NYC high schools. In 2004, I took a year off, and wrote at Starbucks in Astor Place every day, substantially writing three books, although two -“The Jack Trilogy” and “Desperate Days” – took years to finish.
Back then, I taught English, Global History, and journalism.
For teachers, both novels would be exceptional cross-curricular choices for English Language Arts and history. (humanities)..
I wrote both works for adults and young adults.
Historical fiction has been my favorite genre since my elementary school years. I still recall being fascinated with the ‘World History’ textbooks as early as the 4th or 5th grade. In high school, I was independently reading the great Russian writers. I continued to independently pursue a classical education by reading dozens of the ancient works of Greece and Rome while reading classical philosophers up to the more modern ones.
I studied English and journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where I received BA degrees, received my Master of Science in Literacy at Touro College, Manhattan, and took night classes in European history and French Painting at Harvard.
I spent ten years in Boston-area courts. Those years were a fantastic learning experience. I began in 1980 as the Lowell Sun’s court reporter in Cambridge There were nearly 100 prosecutors in the DA’s office then. I later took over the Middlesex News Service. Few people see a murder trial gavel to gavel during their lifetime. I saw about 500. Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Kafka’s The Trial were the inspiration behind those years – amazing what books can do.
Social Media Links
https://www.facebook.com/groups/FriendsPublishingPractices/ (my author’s group)