Femme Fatale

The origins of the sexually attractive woman who sets out to seduce men for her own purposes can be found in ancient biblical and historical texts as well as in classical literature. The temptress Delilah is cited in the 16th chapter of the Book of Judges in the Old Testament as the means by which the Philistines discovered the source of the Israelite Sampson’s strength. The first century historian Josephus writes of Salome, the stepdaughter of Herod Antipas, who demanded the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter in exchange for an erotic dance on Herod’s birthday. Even Greek mythology speaks of half-birds, half-maidens whose “siren song” lured sailors to a rocky shore and certain death. In Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Odysseus has his men tie him to the mast of his ship so that he can experience the allure of the Sirens without succumbing to their temptations.

However, that sultry allure, sex or the promise of sex, characteristically results in either a lifetime of regret or self-destruction. Deliberate seduction is a weapon that draws some men into compromising and even dangerous situations leading to their downfall or death. There’s a price to pay for the pleasures of the flesh – loss of one’s manhood,  manipulation and commission of acts on the woman’s behalf that can result in blackmail or even murder, and choices that compromise or even endanger the lives of others.

The seductress has existed throughout history and has often been used as a plot device in literature. In my latest book, a novella of the Salvadoran civil war, the fictional character Diana Montego (an urban guerrilla) serves that purpose.

She was exposed to training like any other recruit, learning weaponry, explosives, tactics, and strategic objectives under Nidia’s tutelage. These were all secondary, however, to her sexuality, and she was soon given her mission. Use her looks and wiles to find and seduce an American staying at the Hotel Presidente. The endgame, of course, would not be this one individual. Her task was to get inside, become totally familiar with the layout of the hotel, and specifically identify the rooms where the American advisers were lodged. To be successful, she would need to use all her womanly skills. That it proved so easy was a surprise both to Diana and the FMLN leadership. — Excerpt from Tarnished Brass.

Follow Diana’s story and learn more about American involvement in the war and the repercussions that continue to affect the United States and this small Central American country.

 

 

The Soccer War

SoccerSoccer arrived in Latin America in the 1800s. In the beginning it was primarily played by affluent Europeans, but was soon adopted by people from all socio-economic classes bridging the divide between the ruling elites and the indigenous population.

As a cultural institution, it quickly became synonymous with national identity and disputes on the field of play frequently resulted in violence between players, fans, and in extreme cases even countries.

The visible displays of nationalism include flag waving, national anthems, even colorful clothing. They are an expression of the emotional attachment that individuals feel for their teams. So when deliberate physical injury to a player or perceived bias by referees alter the outcome of games, fan violence is inevitable. Add to that political tensions between the governments of the competing teams, and international competitions have even led to war. Such was the case in 1969 between the neighboring Central American countries of El Salvador and Honduras.

The Soccer War (sometimes referred to as the 100 Hours War) was fueled by extreme national pride. Violence erupted between fans during the first two 1970 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches. The teams split the first two contests spawning yet greater tumult between the two fan bases as the third and deciding match approached.

Tensions had been building for months between the two governments over new immigration laws in Honduras that stripped land ownership from Salvadoran citizens settling in that country. The expulsion of over eleven thousand such immigrants and migrant workers just happened to coincide with the timing between the first and second games. Citing Honduran nationalism and fan violence as the reason for its action, El Salvador severed all diplomatic ties with its neighbor and deployed soldiers onto Honduran soil.

The war was brief, beginning on July 14, 1969, and ending on July 20, 1969, with a cease-fire negotiated by the Organization of American States (OAS). El Salvador initially demanded that Honduras agree to reparations for those Salvadorans who had been displaced and assurances of fair treatment for those settlers who chose to remain. It finally withdrew its forces on August 2, 1969, after promises of protection for its citizens on Honduran soil.

The dispute simmered long after the Salvadoran soccer team defeated Honduras 3-2 in the final qualifying match in Mexico City and long after cessation of hostilities between the two armies. A final peace treaty would not be signed until October 30, 1980. — Excerpt from Tarnished Brass.

 

 

 

The Doctrine of Liberation Theology

The arrival of European powers and the conquest of Latin America by Spain and Portugal that began in the 15th century aligned the ruling elite and the Roman Catholic Church. Indigenous peoples were not only subjugated, they were taught that their suffering was the will of God and that they should accept their earthly existence, which included forced labor, poverty, and oppression. Their liberation from these conditions would only come in the afterlife if they remained faithful and accepted their fate.

However, by the 20th century calls for both social and political change caused the Church to transition towards an acknowledgement that it had a role in helping the poor and underprivileged. Rather than just focusing on their souls, it began advocating “the power of man to determine his own destiny.” This radical shift in doctrine became known as Liberation Theology.

In the small Central American country of El Salvador clerics not only spoke out about the impoverished conditions under which most Salvadorans labored, but advocated rising up in confrontation to the authorities. One of the more outspoken voices was that of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero.

The Archbishop vocally preached against the repression of the underprivileged calling upon all Christians including the military dictatorship to heed Jesus’ teachings regarding social and economic justice. In his final sermon the Archbishop urgently petitioned those in power to alter course. In the name of God and this suffering population, whose cries reach to the heavens more tumultuous each day, I beg you, I beseech you, I order you, in the name of God, cease the repression.

His words were met by a sniper’s bullet to the heart. Archbishop Romero became the first Catholic bishop killed in a church since Thomas Becket was slain at Canterbury in 1170. He was canonized and declared a saint October 14, 2018.

Archbishop Romero’s assassination galvanized a fledgling FMLN guerrilla movement in El Salvador resulting in a brutal civil war that lasted from 1980-1992. My latest book Tarnished Brass looks at that war and all its causes and ramifications, spotlighting American involvement in the conflict and the ongoing struggle in El Salvador that to this day continues to impact the immigration crisis on our southern border and the spread of MS-13 gang violence throughout the United States.

Look for it on Amazon and at other major online retail book stores.

 

 

Holiday Reading

The holidays have you stressed out? Curl up with a book and let that stress pass you by!

Holiday Gift GuideObviously we all have our favorite genres and writers that we tend to gravitate towards. But, may I suggest that there are countless new authors and their works worth looking into, many of them to be found at Lone Star Literary Life.

Published Book CoverMy latest book Tarnished Brass is among the many featured titles. Set in El Salvador, it looks at the civil war that was fought in this small Central American country from 1980-1992. Except those that were involved in the conflict, few Americans remember that the United States provided arms and training support to the El Salvador Armed Forces. Some may recall the Iran Contra scandal, but U.S. foreign policy at the time and the reasons behind it are all but forgotten. Tarnished Brass is loosely based on my memories as a young Army officer thrust into the midst of this brutal war, but the story has been fictionalized to also give voice to the guerrilla movement, the refugees who fled the fighting, and the rise of MS-13. If you enjoy historical fiction or there’s someone on your Christmas list who does, this book might just be for you!

Tarnished Brass and all my books can be found at many online retail bookstores. At  Amazon.com you can peruse the reviews, decide whether to purchase, and perhaps (after you’ve read it) add one of your own.

Merry Christmas!

Honoring Their Legacy

Published Book CoverAlthough Tarnished Brass is a work of fiction, it is based on my memories of the brutal civil war fought in the small Central American country of El Salvador from 1980-1992.

United States involvement in that conflict was principally focused on training support to the Salvadoran military. In a departure from US policy in Vietnam, American military advisers were prohibited from accompanying Salvadoran forces during combat operations. Their role was solely to train the ESAF [El Salvador Armed Forces] and change the way it prosecuted the war. Of course, in spite of these restrictions, the Operations and Training Teams (OPATTs) assigned to Salvadoran Infantry Battalions often found themselves in harms way.

Reports of fighting involving US troops, however, was a closely guarded secret. It would not be until 1996, four years after the peace accords were signed, that the twenty-one American service members killed in El Salvador were finally recognized.

Their headstone in Arlington National Cemetery does not contain their names. It simply states… El Salvador 1981-1992. Blessed are the peacemakers. In sacred memory of those who died to bring hope and peace.

Of course, I was not acquainted with everyone who died in the war, but I did have a personal and professional relationship with one of the deceased. Lieutenant Colonel James M. Basile, US Air Force, served as deputy commander of the US MilGroup, San Salvador. He was killed in a helicopter crash on July 16, 1987, at age forty-three.

Official recognition of his service to country and that of the other twenty individuals helps to heal old wounds. William G. Walker, the former US Ambassador to El Salvador (1988-1992), best phrased that sentiment when he spoke to those assembled at the cemetery — For too long, we have failed to recognize the contributions, the sacrifices, of those who served with distinction under the most dangerous of conditions.

May they all rest in eternal peace.

 

 

 

Tarnished Brass: Press Release

Published Book CoverIt’s one thing to write a book and quite another to get the word out following its publication. To that end I’m including the official press release from Page Publishing in today’s post. The publisher has already provided the release to local, regional, and national print, broadcast and online media, but no one is more important than you (the reader) at creating “buzz” about the book. I encourage comments at this site and reviews posted to platforms such as Goodreads and Amazon. A word or two or an in depth discussion of your reaction to the novella is very much appreciated.

Headline
Author Max L. Knight’s new book “Tarnished Brass” is a gripping and potent work of realistic fiction examining the brutal civil war in El Salvador between 1980 and 1992.
Short Description
Recent release “Tarnished Brass” from Page Publishing author Max L. Knight is a riveting novella capturing the savage violence of a military regime determined to preserve its social hierarchy and the desperate resistance of an oppressed people fighting for their lives in the El Salvadoran Civil War. Rich in vivid detail and the author’s deep knowledge of the country, its people, and the conflict itself, this story, though a work of fiction, informs and resonates with timeless and global issues of human rights and military intervention.
Long Description
Max L. Knight, a married father of five residing with his wife, Janet, in San Antonio and decorated US Army veteran who served for twenty-four years as an air defense artillery officer, retired in 1997 with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and after 9/11 once again volunteered to serve his country as a contractor for the Department of Defense in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Central America, has completed his new book “Tarnished Brass”: a spellbinding work of historical faction bringing the twelve-year conflict in El Salvador to life. Max writes, “From 1980 until 1992, a brutal civil war was fought in the small Central American country of El Salvador. ‘Tarnished Brass’ looks at America’s involvement in the conflict; the United States provided funding, arms, and training support to the Salvadoran military. It also examines current issues affecting both countries—twenty-six years later, gang violence has replaced and even surpassed the brutality of both the Salvadoran military and the guerrilla factions during their prolonged conflict. The war and its aftermath are told through the perspectives of a US Army officer, a guerrilla leader, and a refugee turned gang member. By giving voice to all three, it looks not only at history but at the current crises. Today, El Salvador has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world, and the influence of MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha) has spread beyond its borders to many cities in the United States.” “Tarnished Brass” is a timely examination of a conflict fought over thirty years ago that continues to resonate today. Though a work of fiction, the author draws upon his experiences in-country to write a story that will definitely resonate with readers looking to understand past US foreign policy as well as current events.

Published by Page Publishing, Max L. Knight’s engrossing book is a compelling read for anyone interested in Latin American and US military history. Readers who wish to experience this engaging work can purchase “Tarnished Brass” at bookstores everywhere, or online at the Apple iTunes store, Amazon, Google Play, or Barnes and Noble.

Tarnished Brass: Giveaway

Giveaway Tarnished BrassToday is the final day of the Giveaway. If you haven’t yet registered at Rafflecopter for a signed copy of Tarnished Brass and a $25.00 Amazon gift card, be sure to do so by midnight CDT. You could be the winner!

I also recommend that you check out Lone Star Literary Life, the go-to website for all things “bookish” in the State of Texas. Sign up for free to receive the latest literary news. You’ll be introduced to a range of Texas authors and their works, and you’re sure to find your next great read.

Finally, in support of my book or any book that you’ve read and enjoyed, write a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Reviews are the lifeblood that affect not just book sales, but the craft of writing. Feedback is essential in honing craftsmanship for future projects and authors welcome your comments. I know I do!