Monday, July 16, 2018


 Finally, after more than five years of research and writing, tens of thousands of miles flown, driven and traveled by bus, hours of interviews on three continents and untold drafts, The Tango War debuts on September 18.  And I am back to this blog!

I am profoundly glad the story of World War II in Latin America as I saw it will be out in the world.  But curiously, I'm already missing those research trips to small town archives such as I found in Blumenau and Joinville, towns in heavily German southern Brazil. There I could personally handle ephemera like invitations to the local Nazi movie night and satire from the times, propelling me back into an age before I was born. 

There I also saw first hand the kind of information local residents, cut off from many kinds of news by the war, were receiving in the mail, often about the devastation in Germany, where many still had families.

I also miss those trips to the classic mega-depositories of information such as the Rockefeller Archives in snowy (when I was there) upstate New York and the Hoover Institution on the campus of Stanford University, and The Royal Geographic Society in London. I even miss having to take an antihistamine before each visit to the Hemeroteca in Guatemala City where I could peruse years of original newspapers from the 1930s and 1940s, papers whose decomposing pages made me sneeze anyway.  Most of all I miss those interviews where generous sources pulled out albums and showed family photos. On the left below, Heidi Gurcke Donald touches an image of her father Werner, a young German businessman who married Heidi's mother Starr in California before they moved  to Costa Rica, where Heidi and her sister were born.  The family lived happily in Central America until all were taken to a U.S. concentration camp as suspicious "aliens."  Guatemala-born Maya Sapper, right, showed me a series of photos of her idyllic childhood among her family's coffee ranches in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, a memorable period that lasted until her father, too, was taken away by U.S. authorities during the war.

Heidi's and Maya's stories are told in The Tango War along with many others. Could I have told them without traveling from home, using books, phone and artifacts pictured only on the internet? Maybe. But they would not have been the same stories.  And Tango would not be the same book.

Order The Tango War from your your local independent bookstore or online  or wherever books are sold.

Visit and see the trailer