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 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!

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.