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Amidst the pandemic, a welcome piece of positive news…

In late April as we were deeply immersed in the #CoronavirusPandemic, opening Twitter and seeing myself tagged with this announcement was a welcome jolt:

“Rumors from Shanghai” is a project I’ve worked on off and on for years. Curiously enough, it was a warned-of crisis from nearly two decades ago that served as its catalyst.

Do you remember that during the months after the 9/11 attacks, reports kept emerging regarding indications of impending doom from before September 11 that had gone ignored? They included:

  • An Afghan leader of an anti-Taliban force publicly warning when visiting the European Parliament in April 2001 “If President Bush doesn’t help us, then these terrorists will damage the US & Europe very soon and it will be too late.”

  • A Phoenix-based FBI agent warned the bureau to investigate Middle Eastern men at American flight schools. He too was ignored.

  • A flight school in MN reporting concerns to the FBI that a student from the Middle East wanted to learn how to steer a 747, not how to take-off or land. "Do you realize how serious this is?...This man wants training on a 747. A 747 fully loaded with fuel could be used as a weapon." DAVE GOLDINER DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER With News,Wire Services. (2001, Dec 22). "Flight school's warnings told feds about hijack suspect, pilot who hit pentagon:" New York Daily News

The existence of these disregarded warnings made me wonder: had the United States previously been cautioned of impending crisis, and failed to heed the threat with disastrous society-wide results?

Mind you, I was asking this question in 2002...not 2020!

It turned out a historical parallel did exist:

Pearl Harbor, where a combination of unheeded warnings + bias against an opponent resulted in a critical underestimation of risk = disaster.

Sounds very 2020, doesn't it? However, it was in 2002 that I decided to write a novel about the run up to #PearlHarbor.

Of course, at the time I had two small kids, was working full time as an international lawyer and after '04, building a practice and a life in Shanghai. Life was busy:….

It's taken some time, but I'm excited to see the story I conceived of so long ago appear.

“Rumors from Shanghai” focuses on a young Black American, Tolt Gross, who arrives in booming Shanghai in '40, which at the time looked like this:

Provincial Seattle in the pre-war period looked like this:

Tolt is to assume a senior role managing Asia ops for a US flour company, a position w/ responsibility & status rarely available to a Black man in America. He finds Shanghai’s social & nightlife influenced by American Jazz & flourishing despite Japan’s invasion of China three years earlier.

Tolt thrives in his new role, then amid hard work & hard play, he stumbles on

a secret plan Japan is developing to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. A plan that could destroy his life & so much more. Should he try to sound the alarm? Would anyone believe a warning from a Black man in Shanghai?

H/T Alex Britton for incredible cover design.

Rumors from Shanghai” is now available for preorder.

Looking forward to the August 1 launch date!

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