New Novel Depicts Racial Conflict on World War II U.S. Home Front

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In Eliot Sefrin's compelling new historical novel, two men—a black southern migrant and a Jewish European émigré—form an unlikely alliance, joining forces in a courageous effort to crush a terrorist hate group during a tumultuous and troubled time in America.

When poor black migrant Roosevelt Turner flees the segregated South during World War II to find work in Pittsburgh's booming steel industry, and Jacob Perlman, a Jewish physician, escapes Nazi-occupied Austria to find a safe haven in America, neither has an inkling that the “promised land” they now call home will force them to confront the same racial venom they've run from all their lives. But that's precisely what occurs in Eliot Sefrin's new novel, “Blood in the Promised Land” (ISBN 9781462026104, iUniverse, 2011).

Set at the height of World War II, as war-related production demands lure legions of southern blacks to northern defense jobs, transforming key cities into both “Arsenals for Democracy” and cauldrons of racial conflict, “Blood in the Promised Land” chronicles the separate, arduous journeys of two men who, at first glance, could not be any more different.

An orphaned, impoverished sharecroppers' son, Roosevelt Turner, is black and uneducated, a manual laborer who owns little more than his visions of a better life. Lonely and uncommunicative, he summons the courage to free himself from the racial shackles of the Jim Crow South, embarking on a solitary, six-month journey to Pittsburgh, where he works at a local steel mill while searching for an America consistent with its lofty ideals. In contrast, Jacob Perlman—an affluent, esteemed physician, married and the father of a teenaged daughter—is among the thousands of Jews forced to flee Vienna in the face of anti-Semitic Nazi terror.

Stripped of all possessions, no longer licensed to practice medicine, he emigrates to Pittsburgh after a temporary stay in the Dominican Republic, working at a local medical clinic, and part-time as a cigar-factory lector, as he struggles to reclaim everything he has lost.

Beyond these vast differences lie striking parallels between Roosevelt and Jacob's lives. Each has been deeply scarred by harrowing pasts shaped by persecution and violence tied to his race or ethnicity. Each has been cast adrift from a life stolen by others. Each wonders if he‟ll be able to purge painful memories, rid himself of unwonted emotions, and find a measure of peace in an America awash with both glowing promise and jarring contradictions.

When their paths unwittingly cross during a violent racial incident in Pittsburgh, their fateful encounter instantly reshapes their lives, permitting them to transcend their differences and exorcise the demons of their pasts. Their unlikely bond also thrusts them into the crucible of the civil rights movement, as they courageously join forces to crush the kind of terrorist hate group that‟s haunted them for years.

Author Sefrin says of his reasons for writing “Blood in the Promised Land”: “I wanted to tell the stories of two men who are polar opposites in terms of race, religion, education, and roots, and yet who find commonalities that ultimately draw them together on a bold, life-changing quest. I believe the novel contains a powerful, and hopefully inspiring, message about how all our lives contain common threads that should draw us together instead of pull us apart…how people need to see beyond their obvious differences, transcend the stereotypes that often define who they are, and form alliances that strive to achieve a common good.”

Reviewers agree that Sefrin has succeeded. Richard Blake of Reader Views states: “Sefrin carefully lays the foundation for his story. His images are extraordinary, his character development amazing, his writing so intense and authentic that I often lost sight of the fact that I was reading a fictional account. World War II has spawned countless novels. 'Blood in the Promised Land' is unique among them.”

“Blood in the Promised Land” will make people reconsider what it means to live in the land of the free, where bigotry and racism are still prevalent, and it will inspire them with its depiction of how even the most downtrodden of people can make a difference.

About the Author
Eliot Sefrin has been a newspaper and magazine reporter, editor, and publisher for more than thirty years. A native of Brooklyn, NY, he is a graduate of the City College of New York and resides near Princeton, NJ. “Blood in the Promised Land” is his third novel.

“Blood in the Promised Land” (ISBN 9781462026104, iUniverse, 2011) can be purchased through local and online bookstores. For additional information, visit Publicity contact: Review copies available upon request.

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