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Publication Date: March 2003
File Size: 328 Kbytes
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From the best-selling nonfiction author, Michael B. Oren comes his first novel. Set in Belgium’s Ardennes Forest, the site of a brutal, last-ditch assault by the Nazis in December 1944, Reunion reunites the surviving members of the 133rd Infantry Battalion for one last chance to relive their youth, bury some old ghosts, and try to find answers to the mystery that has haunted the men for fifty years. Through these disparate and vivid characters, we learn of the other story of the 133rd-a story of the lingering effects of war, the potency of the human spirit and the courage that even simple men can muster, both at the beginning and the end of their lives.About the authorMichael B. Oren has authored numerous studies on the history and politics of the Middle East. He is currently a guest lecturer at Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge. A graduate of Princeton and Columbia, he has received fellowships from the U.S. departments of State and Defense, and from the British and Canadian governments. In Israel, he has been a Lady Davis Fellow at Hebrew University and a Moshe Dayan Fellow at Tel-Aviv University. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Six Days of War: June 1967 and The Making of the Modern Middle East, published in 2002 by Oxford University Press. Reunion is his first novel.From the authorI have four degrees in Middle East history, and have spent most of my life working in government and writing nonfiction, and yet I’ve always considered myself, in spirit, a novelist. Even during my teen years when I only wrote poems, I had this sense that poetry was merely practice for fiction, the real thing. I started writing novels in my twenties, after my service in the Israeli army and after the Lebanon war, mostly black comedies-a way, perhaps, of coping with the terrors I’d survived. But it wasn’t until I’d lived for five years deep in the Negev desert, among rheumy-eyed Bedouin and disoriented Russian immigrants and Evangelic types reenacting the Biblical past, that I found a voice that was neither overtly poetic nor personally cathartic. The result was Sand Devil, a trilogy of novellas each set in the desert, each centered on the themes of beauty, isolation, and madness.My latest work of fiction arises from even stranger terrain-from my father’s stories of hardship and camaraderie during World War II. A twice-decorated veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, my father often took me to the reunions of his old army outfit. There, listening to men who had lived through unspeakable horrors-many of their experiences in combat I shared-I mentally recorded the real-life tales that became the basis of a new novel, Reunion. A human drama incorporating elements of romance, mystery, and war story, the novel delves into the subjects of youth and aging, of cowardice and heroism, and the enduring qualities of love.Today, as I continue my research on the history of the Middle East, I still consider myself a novelist. History is my vocation, my craft, and fiction, my art. I begin each day with two hours of fiction writing, followed by five of history. So, as I work on my next history project (a 200-year survey of American involvement in the Middle East), I’ve also started three new novellas on the themes that remain my tropes: love, loneliness, and the ultimate triumph of the self.
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