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Pursuit of Happiness Paperback – October 20, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


Sheldon Greene's Pursuit of Happiness is a rousing, richly detailed piece of historical fiction set during the American Revolution. Equal parts adventure and romance, and teeming with colorful characters, the novel tells the story of Joshua Rutledge, a Philadelphia Quaker and cooper's son, and Amelia Sayre, the beautiful wife of a cruel and domineering plantation owner named Duncan. When the novel opens, both Joshua and Amelia are leading lives of protected innocence; each longs for something more but doesn't know where (or how) to seek fulfillment. Soon the American Revolution impinges on them in ways neither could imagine. A childhood friend calls upon Joshua, an ardent pacifist, to join in the American war effort. George Washington's army has dwindled to a few thousand poorly outfitted men. Resistant at first, Joshua eventually accedes to his friend's appeal and soon finds himself involved in the war as a spy. Remarkably, he obtains the information that leads to Washington's rout of the British in the Battle of Trenton, a victory that breathes new life into the revolution. The success of Joshua's reconnaissance mission leads to another assignment: to find a large shipment of French arms and escort the cache back through a British blockade of American ports. The journey takes Joshua to Haiti via the fictional island of St. Catherine's. Along the way he meets Alexander Da Costa, the mixed-blood son of a Jewish merchant, and to whom Joshua entrusts half of the arms shipment. Moreover, in St. Catherine's, he falls in love with Amelia, whom he meets immediately upon his arrival. The narrative build-up to this meeting and the passionate affair that follows is wholly enjoyable. Unlike his first spy mission, however, this second mission proves only half-successful, since only Joshua, and not Alexander, is able to return to the colonies. But within this apparent "failure" lies Joshua's way back to St. Catherine's and Amelia, this time as a marine captain determined to find Alexander and a missing arms shipment that could mean the difference between victory and defeat for American patriots. As a work of historical fiction, Greene's novel is as meticulously researched as it is conceived and executed. The writer evokes the Revolutionary period, and the people and places of that time, with an artfulness and grace that makes for easy immersion in the novel. Although events seem almost too neatly interconnected at times, Greene's impeccable sense of novelistic pacing, characterization, and plot vividly demonstrates his skill as a literary craftsman, and creates an especially entertaining and memorable read. Pursuit of Happiness is as much a story of the colonial quest for independence as it is that of a young man finding his identity and place in the world. Maude Adjarian, Clarion Reviews --Maude Adjarian, Clarion Reviews

I recommend this book to all fiction readers and some who prefer a little nonfiction thrown in for good measure. It is a real find and so enjoyable to read. Another treasure by Sheldon Greene. Mary Ligonor, Book Pleasures --Mary Lignor, Book Pleasures

Historical novels have never been at the top of my list for choices in reading material, but since I've read Pursuit of Happiness by Sheldon Greene, they have moved far up on the list. --Lisa Binion,Fiction Editor, Bellaonline,

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 474 pages
  • Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (October 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439262446
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439262443
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,912,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sheldon Greene is a partner in the San Francisco law firm of Greene & Allison. The firm works with over 40 credit unions on the West Coast. He is also Executive Vice President and Director of Oak Creek Energy Systems, Inc. a Southern California wind energy operator and development company that is responsible for the consummation of the largest ever wind energy power purchase agreement; 1550 MW to deliver energy to Southern California Edison. Oak Creek is a subsidiary of Marubeni, a multi-national Japanese trading company.


Graduated Magna Cum Lauda, Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, Delta Sigma Rho, Order of the Coif, Case Western Reserve University, undergraduate and law, fifth in Grand National Debate Tournament, Law Review Editor, Winner Dunmore Moot Court Competition, Contracts Prize.

Work History:

Law Clerk, Court of Common Pleas,

Warden of Insurance of the State of Ohio, attorney in first successful state challenge to increased Blue Cross insurance rates,

House Counsel to Pennsylvania Life Insurance Co.,

War Against Poverty: As Directing Attorney of the Modesto office and later General Counsel, of California Rural Legal Assistance; he successfully brought suits against the Regan administration that blocked massive cuts in medical assistance to low income and working poor, a suit requiring implementation of minimum wages for women and minors, a suit blocking importation of braceros, a suit challenging abuses of the non resident worker law among others. He drafted legislation and secured bi-partisan sponsorship of the first law in United States to penalize the knowing employment of illegal entrants in the country, which was signed into law by then California Governor Reagan.

Cultural: He was a member of the founding board of the New Israel Fund and served as its first secretary. He lived in Israel for almost two years studied Hebrew in Jerusalem, worked on the National Archeological Survey in the Negev and a Kibbutz in the Gallil and wrote a novel.

Political: He has been a member of the Nancy Pelosi initiated San Francisco based Red to Blue group since 2005 and has contributed to key House and Senate campaigns as identified by the leadership..

Obama: Greene was a member of two Obama National Policy Teams: Energy and Immigration and was active in working up both policies. He became a supporter of Barak Obama just before he announced his campaign for President.



Lost and Found, a novel, Random House,
Burnt Umber, a novel, Leap Frog Press,
Prodigal Sons, a novel, Book Surge
Pursuit of Happiness, CreateSpace

Law Review:

Promised Land: Distribution of Public Land by the United States 5 Ecology Law Quarterly 4 at 707-751 (1976) University of California, Berkeley

Public Agency Distortion of Congressional Will, 40 The George Washington Law Review #3 March 1972, pp 440-464

Immigration Law and Rural Poverty-The Problems of the Illegal Entrant, 1969 Duke Law Journal #3 pp475-494

Cause of Action and the Statute of Limitation, Koenigberg v. California, 9 Survey of Ohio Law, 10 Western Reserve Law Review

Periodicals and books

Man in the Middle, Liability of California Insurance Agents and Brokers, Underwriters Report, April 8, 1965

Wetbacks, Growers, and Poverty, The Nation, Oct 20 1969
CRLA Pest or Pesticide? California Farmer Sept 20, 1969

Somebody is Always Offended , The Nation, Dec. 14, 1970

Is Lawcare Next? The Nation, Dec. 11, 1972

Employment of Illegal Entrants Los Angeles Times, May 25 1972

Corporate Accountability and the Family Farm, in Radical Agriculture, edited by Richard Merrill, Harper Colophon 1976

Personal: Resides, Berkeley CA. Married to Judy Greene a psychotherapist. One daughter, Talia an artist, married living in Philadelphia, one grand child. He sings baritone in the Oakland Symphony Chorus, gardens, writes novels and non fiction, and plays singles tennis. He and Judy collect art, travel a lot, like good food and wine, and take in a lot of cultural events. He reads the NYTimes and the Economist for information and is a self confessed policy wonk with opinions on most everything.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I had read the description of the book as written by the author and expected to find myself "grabbed from the first page" but I was not so grabbed! The beginning and for quite a few pages was used to describe the books characters, surrounding nature, the description of the clothing, and in general, the times. However, after the first part of the book things got very interesting as more of the Revolutionary War and the characters of that war were introduced making the reader then "be grabbed"! The authors' descriptive writing made the story very intriguing. You will meet George Washington and many of the military and government leaders of the day.

Amelia Sayre was married to Duncan seemingly in name only. Duncan promised much but rarely followed through, such as the six-months in Europe that never materialized. Duncan also wanted no parts of children, a fact that Amelia found so wrong for a married couple. Amelia would look out to the sea waiting for ships to sail into port hoping that something new would arise from that arrival. Amelia had her friends and Rachel was probably the closest. Slavery was very much a part of the times. Some slaves were given some freedom within the family they worked for but were never totally free. They took their unbearable punishment if they did not obey to the letter of their masters.

Joshua Rutledge was a Quaker and Quakers are pacifists, or are supposed to be and Joshua strongly believed that that was the way to live during these times of war. He would not fight even though many in the government tried to talk him into helping the Americans, knowing what a leader he was. General George Washington and some of his military leaders figured they could get Joshua to help by conveying information back and forth.
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Format: Paperback
Historical novels have never been at the top of my list for choices in reading material, but since I've read "Pursuit of Happiness" by Sheldon Greene, they have moved far up on the list. This intriguing story takes place during the American Revolution.

This book, sent to me free by the author, is recommended for those who want to learn more about the revolution that freed the American colonies from the rule of England. An irresistible story of romance and suspense is woven into the actual happenings of the war that ensured this nation's freedom from the British.

Through Greene's descriptions and dialogue, we experience the hardships Washington and his men faced during the bleak, cold winters of the Northeast. The Continental Army's deprivation of blankets, warm clothing, and shoes caused many of the men to fall sick. The enemy would not expect such a ragtag army to cross the icy Delaware on Christmas Eve during a fierce winter storm. Their crossing was planned to surprise the enemy and give the dying Continental Army a much needed boost.

Joshua Rutledge, the main character in the story, is a Quaker whose desire to fight for the colonists is hampered out of respect for his dying father. Quaker beliefs prohibit the taking up of arms and fighting. Then an opportunity arrives for Joshua to participate in the war effort and help those fighting for the freedom of America from England without doing any actual fighting - he is to be a spy and aid in the French shipment of arms to the Continental Army. All of this must be done in secret and with the aid of a Jewish ship owner.

His mission as a spy takes him to the fictional island of St. Catherine's. One of the first people he becomes involved with on the island is Petra Spain.
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By Madeover on February 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
If your a fan of historical fiction. This is the book for you. If you enjoy a book that you can enjoy over a long weekend. This is the book for you. If you enjoy a book that you can't put down because you can't wait to see how it ends. This is the book for you. This is the first time I have had the opportunity to read any of Mr. Greene's work. The authors other works have received some great reviews including..."The prose is felicious,deft yet unpretentious. Greene is a born storyteller." Los Angeles Times Review of Lost and Found . "...The book goes down like vintage wine; is requires discipline to savor each chapter." Indianapolis News. Review of Lost and Found. "...a fascinating study of the rootlessness of the Holocaust
survivor. A page turner with emotional depth." Kirkus Discoveries Reviews.
The American Revolution is near collapse. Joshua Rutledge, a Quaker and a member of the Rebellion's first spy organization, the Committee of Correspondence, is sent to the Caribbean to retrieve a desperately needed French arms shipment. He must both locate the arms and persuade a Jewish ship owner to transport them back to America through the British blockade. Rutledge falls for Amelia Sayre, the unconventional wife of a slave owner known for his brutality. From Jewish life in the Caribbean to the birth of the Marine Corps, from slave rebellion to Benedict Arnold's seducer, Pursuit of Happiness is rich in detail, spiced with romance and action, larded with trenchant dialogue and an abundance of interesting, well-rounded characters. This fact-based page-turner never falters as it moves to a stunning climax. Fans of Patrick O'Brian, Bernard Cornwell, or Daphne Du Maurier should love it.
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