A Moneychanger Book Review

Perestroika Sunset

by Alan Stang

Published by Patton House, P.O. Box 291642, Encino, California 91426. 522 pages, (800) 470-8783.

Prisoners of war abandoned in enemy hands? Isn’t that a dead issue? That’s what I asked Alan Stang when I talked to him about his new novel, Perestroika Sunset.

Hardly, he replied, with more than 300,000 American military personnel still stationed in 100 countries around the globe. The US bombs Iraq, Serbia, or Devil-nation-of-the-month, then out of nowhere sends Marines to East Timor. American imperial policy virtually guarantees that we will suffer more POWs. Add to that the International Criminal Court in The Hague finding "war criminals" under every bush. Who knows when they might decide to try some American "war criminals." The US Army recently reported 82nd Airborne "crimes" in Kosovo. From the get-go somebody didn’t like their slogan, "Shoot ‘em in the face." (Makes sense, however, when you consider today’s use of Kevlar body armor. Never mind.) Past that the 82nd seems to have gotten a bit forceful in interrogation.

So the POW issue is far from dead, and in fact is very timely.

Perestroika Sunset is not a book for children. It’s rough. It’s painful. There’s no bad language, but one very rough rape scene, however necessary to the story. I picked the book up at 2:00 one Saturday afternoon, and didn’t put it down until midnight. This is more than just a "compelling" story. Perestroika Sunset didn’t contain a single one of those flat spots where the author just marks time moving from one scene to the next. Alan Stang has put this book together the same way a German gunsmith builds a match-grade rifle, with simply perfect craftsmanship and precise attention to detail.

When I mentioned that, Alan replied that it took him 27 years to write the novel.

"It hurt you to write it," I observed.

"I had to write it to exorcise myself," he said. "It’s a novel, but all the history is accurate."

Perestroika Sunset pictures a different sort of heroes than our whiney age can produce, men and women who will sacrifice themselves for their principles even though history will never recognize them. Men and women faithful to their word and honor—forever. In the hands of any lesser writer those characters would be cardboard—thin, flimsy, and predictable. Stang’s men and women enter our minds and memories like our best known friends—and enemies.

In the January 2000 Moneychanger I reviewed Alan Stang’s In the Name of the King. That, too, was a book that refused to paper over the evil, but it was also a very funny book. No one would every describe Perestroika Sunset as a ‘funny" book. No one could read it, either, without finding himself nobler than he began.

In one of his earliest writing jobs Alan Stang scripted interviews for Mike Wallace before Wallace moved to CBS. Alan’s first novel, The Highest Virtue, won smashing reviews from the Los Angeles Times, the late Los Angeles Herald Examiner, the Orange County Register, and five stars—top rating—from the then West Coast Review of Books. Editor Dave Dreis says he gives five stars in only little more than one per cent of his reviews

Alan Stang has written ten books and hundreds of feature magazine articles, reprinted in the millions. He has won awards for scholarship and journalistic excellence from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and the American Academy of Public Affairs in Los Angeles, chaired by Loyd Wright, former chairman of the American Bar Association.

Alan Stang has lectured around the world. As a network radio talk show host, he went head to head with Larry King in Los Angeles. According to Arbitron, Alan had almost twice as many listeners.

Alan was born and raised a Jew but converted to Christianity. He passed away in July 2009.