The stories of our past, real or imagined, serve as classrooms for today’s traveler. They reveal humanity at its best and at its worst, and as spoken often throughout history, those who fail to learn its lessons are doomed to repeat its mistakes. In the first of a two-part saga, author and historian John J. Dwyer draws from the written and unwritten pages of American history, to weave a story that could parallel today’s headlines.
Dwyer’s Shortgrass (Tiree Press, May 2017) offers a realism that differs from your typical historical novel revealing the grit and determination that defined “The Greatest Generation.” The story’s characters embody the many real life heroes that traveled similar paths during those turbulent times of world conflict and human survival and the lessons taught reveal something of the author himself.
“While the story is set in a different era, Shortgrass, and its sequel, Mustang, are the closest thing to my own written testament to those who come after me. They depict what I have learned about love and loss, history and heroes, inner conflict and unanswered questions, God and man – life itself,” offers Dwyer. “Although a work of fiction, the history and the lessons it teaches us are timeless and real.”
The adventurous journey of a Mennonite farm boy, Lance Roark, begins in the drought-ravaged Dust Bowl of Oklahoma where his battle for survival would prepare him for college gridiron glory. As war clouds gather across the seas, he is smitten with teenaged Chickasaw cowgirl and stunt flyer Sadie Stanton. He later finds love with Mary Katherine Murchison, a beautiful oil heiress and singing star of the Big Band Era.
He eventually enters the dangerous world of America First, the Lindbergh-led organization opposing Roosevelt’s drive toward American involvement in the War. When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, his lifelong commitment never to raise his hand against another human soul brings him to his own crisis of conscience. He is faced with the decision whether or not to accept command of a B-17 Flying Fortress in which he would witness, and inflict, mass slaughter in Nazi occupied Europe amidst history’s most fearsome war.
“John Dwyer writes as he thinks: lucidly, dynamically, engagingly. Wherever John takes you, you’ll be glad you went. And you will want to go again.”
Senior Professor and Chair of Media Arts & Worship
Dallas Theological Seminary
John J. Dwyer earned his Master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and his undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. Since 2006, he has been adjunct professor of history and ethics at Southern Nazarene University. He is former history chair at Coram Deo Academy, near Dallas, Texas. John is the author of the The War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War, the historical novels Stonewall and Robert E. Lee, the novel When Bluebonnets Come and the recently released, The Oklahomans: The Story of Oklahoma and Its People. John is also the former editor and publisher of the Dallas/Fort Worth Heritage newspaper and also worked as a radio announcer and play-by-play football and basketball announcer for several radio stations, winning the coveted position of sports director for the University of Oklahoma’s 100,000 watt KGOU-FM radio station.