New World War II Novel Touches on Black History Month Issues

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In a compelling new historical novel, author Eliot Sefrin touches on volatile racial conflicts that ravaged much of World War II-era America, and ultimately, changed the face of the nation.

Book Cover - Blood in the Promised Land
Black History Month is the perfect opportunity to explore through a novel how diversity has shaped the United States and made it stronger while continuing the work of those who fought for freedom for all—regardless of color, race, gender, or religion.

Celebrating February as Black History Month means more than remembering slavery and the 1960s Civil Rights movement. World War II was a pivotal time in African-Americans’ struggle to be recognized as an equal and integral part of a nation that proclaimed it believed in freedom for all. Eliot Sefrin explores the irony of a country going to war to fight racism and oppression in Europe while still discriminating against a segment of its own population in his new novel “Blood in the Promised Land” (ISBN 9781462026104, iUniverse, 2011).

Set in 1943, at the height of World War II, “Blood in the Promised Land” chronicles the separate journeys of two men—one an impoverished black migrant who flees the Jim Crow South to work in Pittsburgh’s booming steel industry, the other a Jewish physician forced to escape Nazi-occupied Europe. When their paths unwittingly cross during a violent racial outbreak, their fateful encounter instantly reshapes their lives, permitting them to transcend their differences and exorcise the ghosts of their pasts. Their unlikely bond ultimately thrusts them into the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement as they courageously join forces to battle a terrorist hate group like those that have haunted their pasts.

Roosevelt Turner is a black, orphaned sharecropper’s son with dreams of a better life in the North. His story—like that of his Jewish counterpart, Jacob Perlman—follows a plotline tied to myriad historical touch points. Roosevelt’s childhood is based on true events that occurred in Rosewood, Florida—an all-black town destroyed during a violent racial outbreak in the 1920s. Roosevelt’s adolescence and young adulthood are controlled by the Jim Crow laws, lynching, mob rule, and other forms of institutionalized racism that existed in Depression-era Gainesville. His dream of a northern utopia—or “Promised Land”—was pervasive throughout the South as blacks were recruited by northern job agents with promises of better jobs, living conditions, and civil liberties, while southern business interests, dependent upon cheap black labor, conspired to keep blacks tethered to the South.

Roosevelt’s experiences during his six-month odyssey mirror those of legions of rural blacks who fled the South to find defense jobs and a better life in industrial northern cities during World War II—and whose collective journey ultimately changed the face of America. Confronted with northern bigotry marked by workplace tension, “hate strikes,” and terrorist hate groups seeking to enforce traditional racial barriers, blacks had to seize unprecedented wartime opportunities to remake the South, dismantle the worst of white supremacy, and attain permanent entry into blue-collar, upwardly mobile occupations.

“Blood in the Promised Land” reminds readers that the United States is a melting pot in which the black experience, as well as the Jewish one, is a significant part of its story. Sefrin states of the novel, “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….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.” Black History Month is the perfect opportunity to explore through a novel how diversity has shaped the United States and made it stronger while continuing the work of those who fought for freedom for all—regardless of color, race, gender, or religion.

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 978146202610-4, iUniverse, 2011) can be purchased through local and online bookstores. For additional information, visit http://www.EliotSefrin.com. Publicity contact: http://www.ReaderViews.com. Review copies available upon request.

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