War and chaos are no match for an American immigrant bent on keeping a promise...
Sequel to the award-winning Black Tom: Terror on the Hudson, Her Morning Shadow tells of a young Jewish Ukrainian immigrant, caught up in the aftershock of World War One. Private 'Abie' Ashansky is trying to build a new life in his adopted home in Jersey City, while searching for his missing fiancée. Spanning continents and relationships, this extraordinary account of one man's journey reveals a community where family is defined not only by blood but by the values and roots on which it is built.
'Buckle down for a wild saga in history that starts in the Great War and charges through the three-way battle for the Crimea and the Ukraine to reach its beacon, the torch of Liberty. A superb alloy of genuine history and vivid imagination.'
Leslie Wilbur, Emeritus Professor, University of Southern California.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
Her Morning Shadow is set in the time of World War I and tells of a young Jewish Ukrainian immigrant to America who forms connections in this country just as the world is exploding overseas; but although the war and its changes form the backdrop for this story, it's the immigrant experience which powers the tale.
The story literally opens with the bang of real events as German saboteurs commit a terrorist act by planting a chemical bomb in a freight car loaded with ammunition at Black Tom. The descriptions are exquisitely relayed to readers ("Rounds began to cook off lighting up the sky and peppering the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with shrapnel.") as events unfold and an America not yet involved in the war finds its commitment to neutrality shaken, lending Her Morning Shadow an introduction that's unexpectedly powered by real events in American history.
Private Ashansky ("Abie") is introduced in the next chapter: a Ukraine immigrant who ironically fled Russia, not wanting to get conscripted into the military's war, and who now finds himself defending his adopted country.
Nobody wants to die as a war is winding down. Millions are dead, millions more wounded, and Abie survives to see the Great War's conclusion even if everyone is too weary and battle-shocked to celebrate it.
But while Allied forces celebrate, many in other countries are devastated and suffering. Abie is tapped to continue his journeys beyond American shores, his fluent French deemed a useful skill to the military, in an effort that leads him on a personal mission as well: to locate missing fiancée Rachel Zeidman and bring her to his adopted home in America.
Personal quests, a world torn apart by war and struggling to piece itself back together, and a Jewish man trying to make his way through life, forging new connections and renewing old ones, makes for the engrossing story of an immigrant's journey which unexpectedly takes place far from American shores.
Add a murder investigation, social observations and prejudices, trials and tribulations, and a growing immersion of immigrant perspective into American culture newly redefined by different opportunities and connections and you have a hard-hitting story. Her Morning Shadow winds through military and civilian life, embracing the perspectives, special challenges, and hard-fought achievements of a community where 'family' is defined not just by one's blood relatives, but by the values and roots built from adversity, strife, and danger.
Fiction readers will appreciate the powerful focus on how a cobbled-together family seeks peace and will find much to appreciate in this survey of how Abie's world not only unwinds, but expands to embrace others.
Her Morning Shadow is very highly recommended, especially for readers of immigrant experience who want a better-rounded perspective than is offered by most novels on the subject. ~ D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review
World War One shattered the world. It swept people off the streets of Europe and America, a fearsome new force that reached into quiet parlors and shops and alleys, butchering the old world and its ideals. Ronald Semple has written a rich and piercing novel about how European war caught working people and quiet families in Jersey City, and hurled them into life and death. Here is a story of armies marching in the night and people trapped in unimaginable events. It is Mr. Semple's genius to depict the war's impact on blue collar American citizens, some of them first-generation Americans, an ocean away from the battlegrounds. Read this haunting story, and you will be introduced to modern times. ~ Richard S. Wheeler, Historical novelist and winner of the Owen Wister Lifetime Achievement Award
Buckle down for a wild saga in history that starts in the Great War and charges through the three-way battle for the Crimea and the Ukraine to reach its beacon, the torch of Liberty. A superb alloy of genuine history and vivid imagination. Even better than Semple’s “Black Tom.” ~ Leslie Wilbur, Emeritus Professor, University of Southern California
Last evening I finished rereading “Black Tom: Terror on the Hudson.” My decision to reread it turned out to be a fortunate one. I enjoyed it even more and appreciated your writing talents more than ever. I also perceived things I'd missed in my first reading. For example, this time I recognized Abie, thanks to having read your latest book, “Her Morning Shadow.” And the characters in Black Tom increased their depth and became more memorable. Your thirst for and grasp of history, combined with the ability to create fictitious but authentic personalities is amazing. Reading the product of that rare combination, is an enjoyable way to learn history. Oops. This starts to sound like a fan letter, eh? – Leslie Wilbur, Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California. ~ Les Wilbur, Emeritus Professor, University of Southern California