Historical New Novel Depicts Nuns, Prostitutes and Drifters Fighting a 1900 Jim Crow Society

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When Maxwell Hayes enters Galveston, he sees a sign welcoming him to the "Wall Street of the Southwest" and "Third Richest City in the Nation." Then, he sees a black man hanging from a noose.

Galveston, Texas was a wealthy, modern city in 1900, but beneath its prosperous facade was hypocrisy, corruption, and racism. Michael Kasenow captures Galveston's Gilded Age as a message for our own times in his new novel "The Last Paradise" (ISBN 9781440120015, iUniverse, 2009).

In the age of Jim Crow, poor whites and blacks, prostitutes and nuns will struggle against racism and oppression, civic and corporate corruption in Galveston, Texas. The United States is becoming a major world power, but its founding democratic ideals have not fully manifested. Michael Kasenow tells the story of a pivotal time in American history when a nation and its people sought to strengthen their identity to build a democratic future. At the dawn of the twentieth century, every citizen must stand up for his or her rights.

"The Last Paradise" follows two drifters, Maxwell Hayes and Newt Haskins, Jacob Bishop and his family, and Maxwell's love interest--the prostitute Fanny Brown--as they strive to fulfill their dreams in a country built on equality but in a city mired in corruption. Jacob Bishop and Elma struggle as ex-slaves for the equality America still refuses to provide them. Fanny Brown wants to fulfill the American Dream for her son, but a sexist society forces her to seek employment outside the laws of propriety.

Corruption and racism run rampant in Galveston. Boss Connor thinks nothing of breaking the law to gain wealth. As an ex-slave owner, he seeks to destroy the Black Union, and he spreads his lessons of hate to his family. Jenny Connor uses her beauty to get what she wants, but beauty cannot hide the selfishness of her soul. Brood Hale and his corrupt colleagues in the police force are racists who enjoy the rewards of power and money that come with spreading fear.

This story of the American Dream culminates in the Great Hurricane of 1900, which parallels many disasters in recent American history such as Hurricane Katrina. The novel's conflict of corruption and greed versus equality and freedom speak to our time. Kasenow says of the novel's present day parallels: "This is a grave time in our country's history…Today, the cynicism is obvious and many of our institutions appear to be fruitless, bankrupt and confused. Greed and corruption has destroyed lives, futures, and dreams. We need to stand vigilant against the trespassers of dignity and morality…The democratic dream is the last paradise. It's the only paradise."

About the Author
In the eighth grade, Michael Kasenow would hide from friends in the middle school library to read poetry. He says of this time, "By reading poetry one learns how to read, write and dream." He dropped out of college at age nineteen to travel across America doing odd jobs--cab driver, bartender, lumberman, janitor, butcher, and rancher. He earned a B.S. in Geology from Eastern Michigan University in 1986, followed by an M.S. and Ph.D. from Western Michigan University. He has taught geology and hydrogeology at EMU since 1989. He is the author of fourteen environmental science books published internationally by Water Resources Publications. "The Last Paradise" is his first novel. Kasenow lives in Michigan where he is enjoying watching his son grow.

"The Last Paradise: A Novel" (ISBN 9781440120015, iUniverse, 2009) can be purchased through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit http://www.michaelkasenow.com. Publicity contact: http://www.ReaderViews.com. Review copies available upon request.


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