Sunday, March 17, 2013

Stephan Talty

Stephan Talty is the author of five non-fiction books: Mulatto America, about the mixing of black and white culture throughout American History; Empire of Blue Water, the story of the great pirate captain Henry Morgan; The Illustrious Dead, about Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and the typhus epidemic that doomed it; Escape from the Land of Snows, an account of the Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet in 1959; and Agent Garbo, the story of the greatest double agent of World War II, Juan Pujol.

His first work of fiction, a crime novel called Black Irish, introduces the Harvard-educated detective, Absalom Kearney, and marks the beginning of a new crime series. Talty is also the co-author of the New York Times bestselling account, A Captain’s Duty, with Captain Richard Phillips, the hero of the Maersk Alabama hijacking. The book is being made into a film starring Tom Hanks, to be released in late 2013.

A few weeks ago I asked Talty about what he was reading.  His reply:
I just finished Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest Everest, a sprawling, jolting epic about the men who survived WWI and how they turned their attention to the mountains of the Himalayas. The book is terrific, and the scenes of large-scale violence on the battlefield is painted with this delicate precision. It's not only a great book, it's a reminder that a hundred years ago we passed through one of the high periods of violence in Western civilization. It makes you wonder if men today could wade through the kind of bloodletting that those soldiers came through and still remain human - and not only that, to go out and seek some kind of purity in life that the WWI generation found in the Himalayas.

The contrast between the battlefields that are just packed with bodies and gore and the crisp white blanket of snow and ice that leads you to Everest is exquisite. I write about violence in my crime novels, and often in my nonfiction work, but World War I stands apart in that regard. You almost can't believe men walked out the other side and remained sane. So for me it was strangely a testament to how strong people are, and how much they can take without losing their humanity.
Visit Stephan Talty's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Black Irish.

--Marshal Zeringue