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Nothing Left To Lose Paperback – October 7, 2011
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"Johnson provides fascinating insights into issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder and grief. This novel should appeal to those who like their families, as Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina, unhappy in their own way. Book clubs will find plenty to discuss with all the issues raised." Library Journal
"That is a testament to the skill of Johnson, who has crafted a beautifully written novel filled with believable characters who take believable but brave actions." The VVA Veteran, national magazine of Vietnam Veterans of America, reviewed by David Willson
"Beautifully written, Nothing Left to Lose is courageous, compelling, and provocative." The Resident (CT and RI), reviewed by Roger Zotti.
"This beautifully written novel turns war's fantasies of glorious heroism into an elegy for all who sail the "Sea of Faith" that Matthew Arnold describes in "Dover Beach." - ForeWord Reviews
"Nothing Left to Lose is a riveting read that will prove quite hard to put down. Highly recommended." Midwest Book Review
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Author Photo: Paul Johnson Cover Design: Pam Knight Cover Art: Karen Jones, pastel Red Clouds Hardback ISBN: 978-1-935514-95-4 Hardback: $27.95 Paperback: $18.95
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There are two things I especially loved about this book: the first is that Johnson is able, as few other authors are, to be 'inside the heads' of both genders at the same time, equally. In other words, to avoid the usual, me and him or me and her point-of-views that naturally come from being more familiar with one or the other. Johnson's background as a world-renowned scholar into issues of gender has given him unusual sensitivity in this area and he uses it to great effect in this novel. I was taken inside Anne's head and heart as forcefully as Will's and Andrew's, and it made the book richer - like having a 360-degree view instead of a 180. Nothing wrong with a really good 180, but 360 is so much nicer!
Also, I admire Allan Johnson's ability to write so much in 'real-time,' slowing the pace down to what would actually happen in real time, as if in a movie. It takes a brave author to do this, for the risk is to be boring. But Johnson is not boring - quite the opposite! He is able to pace much of the non-spoken action as it would actually unfold, a slow-motion that draws the reader into the details in a way that actually creates tension instead of ennui. It's a gift, I think the gift of someone who is really a poet at heart and likes to 'stop time.'
One can't avoid making the obvious comparison from the novel's time period (Vietnam) to today's. As the story unfolds, we can't help but switch back and forth to think about the mothers and fathers of today whom we know, faced with the same agony of seeing their sons and daughters sent off to war, having to suffer the same dilemma of where loyalties lie - to country or to family, or perhaps even to some higher purpose. These issues are as old as time, and it is a joy to read a new book that treats them freshly -- but also reverently and perceptively. Highly recommended!!
Johnson's ability to convey and inhabit the thoughts and emotions of his characters is nothing short of astounding: male and female, young and old, parents and children, husband and wife, friend and lover, and the evocation of the time and place - the Vietnam war and the anti-war protest movement - are brought to life with truth and superb writing. Every character is well-drawn and seems to breathe and evolve before the reader's eyes. Their evolution over the course of the novel is masterfully portrayed. The arc of the story feels real.
I was there in the 1960's - participating in anti-war protests, debating and explaining them to my parents, watching the Democratic Convention in Chicago on television and the mood of the protesters and violence of the police attacks on the protesters in Grant Park - Johnson captured it all and wrote it with thoughtfulness, immediacy, passion, and accuracy. I cannot rave about this book enough.
I would also argue, that this book is timely. Watching the "Occupy" Protests this past year and the response of the police and the "establishment" to peaceful protests was (and is) horrible. The cultural divide between the police and establishment in 2012, and the treatment of the peaceful protesters, seen on television this year, could have been the cultural and values divide of the 1960's. We have learned nothing. The tear gas and corralling and bloudgeoning of protesters, police in riot gear, hiding their identities, and using force as their first means of breaking up protests is the same - it's now pepper spray instead of the older form of tear gas. I vividly recall the anger and viciousness of the police then, and am saddened to see the 2012 replay on television today. The United States remains culturally divided. Just watch the election coverage today to see it played out.
Allan G. Johnson's writing and characters are pitch perfect. This book is a real gem and a "must read".