Gordon Zuckerman's novel The Sentinels: Fortunes of War (Greenleaf Book Group Press) is the first in a new series about six friends, the Sentinels, whose doctoral studies gave them a unique understanding about the way money and greed fuel war. Set during World War II, The Sentinels: Fortunes of War involves a complicated plot to forge $100 million in gold bearer bonds -- money that German industrialists were moving out of Germany after recognizing that they no longer had any influence over Hitler. Diary of an Eccentric says, "The Sentinels: Fortunes of War covers a lot of ground. There is a lot of financial talk, but it is explained in a way that simplifies the information without making it dry and boring. . . . Zuckerman does a great job juggling the many characters. He focuses on each character at various points in the novel, emphasizing both their strengths and weaknesses and making it easy to tell them apart."
Gordon Zuckerman kindly took time out of his busy schedule to talk about his inspiration for The Sentinels: Fortunes of War and what he has planned for the rest of the series, among other things.
Author Gordon Zuckerman
What inspired you to write The Sentinels: Fortunes of War?
Although, my education and background have been in unrelated fields, I have remained a life-long student of contemporary history. Having been exposed by friends of mine in government to the influence that concentrated wealth and power can exercise over our government, I decided to write about the stories behind the stories of some of recent history's more significant events.
With so many novels set in World War II on the market, what do you think makes yours stand out?
The premise of the book deals with the financial motivations and the power struggles that may define what the real story behind the Second World War might have been. Wealthy and powerful German industrialists, sensing the opportunity to control their country's government, support Hitler's rise to power in the 1930's as part of their desire to benefit from the country's subsequent rearmament. In 1943, recognizing the prospect of defeat, these same industrialists are faced with the problem of extracting their wealth from Germany. Learning of their intent, the Six Sentinels, advantaged and talented friends and co-doctoral candidates develop and implement their plan to prevent the enormous wealth from being used, once again, to fund a future Reich. Rather than focus on the conflicts of war, the Fortunes of War utilizes the evolving lives of the main characters to tell the story of opposing the power of unbridled greed.
Are you planning any other books featuring the Sentinels?
Fortunes of War is the first book of a trilogy that is being written to tell the story behind the story of two other significant events of recent history. The same main characters return to discover new threats, organize, and implement imaginative plans designed to oppose the manifestation of unbridled greed. The second book, Opposing Big Oil, deals with issues that are created in 1946 when seven major oil companies attempt to perpetuate their 92% control over the world's petroleum production. The third book of the series addresses the problem when a consortium of military industrial companies, faced with declining Defense spending budgets, attempt to use their collective wealth and influence to accelerate the escalation of military appropriations.
Did you have to do a lot of research to write the book? If so, what did it entail?
Fortunately, there are plethora of very fine authors that have published well written and carefully researched volumes on almost every significant event of contemporary history. Having selected the general topic for each book, I use a variety of techniques to identify what I believe are three of the better works, written by separate authors, that look at the same subject, during the same period through three separate lenses. This process enables me to develop and sense and feel a more penetrative understanding of what might have been happening behind the scenes. Utilizing the power of logical surmise, I begin to speculate what might have been happening behind the scenes to develop the plot for each book. With the plot tentatively developed, I then began to use the bibliographies of the three main books to identify other works that might be pertinent to my work, and the Archives of the New York Times. Finally, I take advantage of the background and experience of my many friends to provide the final litmus test.
What books set during World War II do you think are must-reads?
There is no single author that has impressed me over all others. I regard the collective works of William Manchestor, Jonn Shirer, Herman Wouk, Leon Uris, Fredricj Forsythe, Fletcher Knebel, Neville Shute, Tom Clancy, and Rod Chernow as outstanding contributions to the period.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
I am blessed with a wide range of interests, which include music, art, and literature. I have been a habitual traveler, hunter, fisherman, and golfer. I enjoy meeting interesting people of diversified backgrounds. When I am not spending time with my wife of 49 years, my two children, and four grandchildren, I spend time with my old friends doing things we enjoy.
Read the first chapter of The Sentinels: Fortunes of War here.