"There was a war, and hysteria allows and permits and commands almost anything. So you have to find enemies; you have to find the spies and the fifth columnists."
The Author ...
Following Navy service and graduate school, I taught and wrote about American history at Humboldt State University.
My non-fiction focuses on the relocation and internment of Italian and German Americans during World War II. UnCivil Liberties, an oral a documentary history of Italian relocation, earned an American Book Award.
In retirement, I turned to writing fiction. I try to say something every morning—'Telling Lies for Fun and Profit!' Some of my stories have historical themes—'Illusions' and 'Infamy!' for example. Others are semi-autobiographical, explore art history, obsessive collection, or immigration—even pole dancing! Crime, of course, is central.
Whether you’re a history buff or someone who just enjoys a good yarn, there's a book here for you.
Book Sampling ...
'Outstanding Book'— Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in the United States,1991.
'Outstanding Literary Achievement' — American Book Award (Before Columbus Foundation), 1992.
One of those rare books that will gratify readers of diverse backgrounds and interests. —Northcoast Journal
A significant book for all Americans concerned with this country's attitudes toward and treatment of immigrants, and with individual rights. —Voices in Italian Americana
"I found this sentence so meaningful: 'It is possible for a proud nation such as the United States, dedicated in principle to individual freedom, to come close to losing its soul during a time of crisis under poor leadership.' And then: 'Not so much (to lose it), perhaps, in the heady days of summer sunshine patriotism, but time for thoughtful reflection about the past will be essential during the cold, dark winters of national crises to come, as surely they will, if history is any guide.'
I appreciated those words last night (January 7, 2020), and I found the whole book so well done ... The interviews were so worthwhile. Amazing what people have to put up with. — Ann P.
The Diners, Stephen Fox’s latest novel, takes us to a Christmas dinner where nine long-time friends gather in an unnamed community in northern California. This is the seventh year the clan has met at the home of Betty Crown, a widow, and a teacher of philosophy. At the beginning, Tom Whelan, a history teacher, is not enthusiastic about yet another Christmas dinner at Betty’s. But he and his wife Sarah, another philosophy teacher, pack up their shrimp dish, grab their bottle of wine and set off. In addition to the Whelans and Betty Crown, there are two other couples and two additional women at the dinner. All the characters are in their seventies or older, and other than a retired medical doctor and his artist wife, the guests are, or were, university teachers. Though they share race, age and education, the diners come from interesting and diverse backgrounds that are revealed as we proceed through the story.
There is an element of jokey tension, particularly among the three men, but basically the novel details the conversation that takes place during the course of the evening. As one might suspect, the banter involves subjects related both to the characters’ professions and their advanced years. One subject, for example, is dementia. We learn that Betty’s late husband, an attorney, suffered from it though no one in the group apparently realized it, and we get an “academic” discussion of the types and causes of the mental decline we call dementia.
Fox employs an interesting approach to fiction. He blends the typical techniques of scene description, action, character development and conversation with factual, historical and political exposition. Subjects other than dementia, include teaching, baseball history, the environment, racism, service in, and opposition to, the Vietnam war. Before the evening is over, the historian Tom Whelan prophecies a dystopian future for the United States, and in the poignant final chapter we learn how in the year following the dinner, age and circumstance bring great changes to the lives of each of the nine characters. I very much enjoyed the novel, perhaps because I so closely share the age and history of the characters. Anyone who remembers Sal “The Barber” Maglie and the ship Calypso, will enjoy being a guest at Betty Crown’s Christmas party. — Doug Ingold, whose latest novel is Rosyland
A gem of a book, from engaging anecdote to personal narrative to sweeping history, and best of all, the connections between yesterday and today. — John Christgau, author of 'Enemies': World War II Alien Internment
It was a time of profiling, FBI bungling, military commissions, secret arrests, suspension of due process and habeas corpus, deportation, extraordinary rendition, second class citizenship and other forms of harassment -- all in the name of homeland security during a war being fought overseas. — Ron Standerfer for Reader Views
Thank you for writing about a previous time and these terrible people, but also the good people. — Bill B.