After selling his company to a New York investment fund in 2005 and retiring from a career in the industry, Gordon Zuckerman has enjoyed a second career as a full-time author of historical fiction and business thrillers. His latest book, The Sentinels: Voices Behind the Curtain, is a historical thriller covering various contemporary defining events.
Impressed by how often irresponsible leadership utilizes the privileges of ‘free-enterprise’ to pursue self-serving agendas, often at the expense of others, he share his findings with a broader audience of interested readers. Utilizing the genre of Historical Thriller” he is able to tell his historically rooted plots through the fictional lives of his principal characters.
He follows by telling the story of the “Sentinels’ opposition to the self-serving objectives of differing combinations of industrial resources, the financial support of “Wall Street”, and the acquired support of government influence. As the book unwinds, the reader is able to share in the lives of the Sentinels and the interesting people they encounter along the way. Romance, intrigue, disappointment, trust, betrayal, and threats of intimate danger are never very far away.
Our Q&A with Mr. Zuckerman on his latest novel is as follows:
When did you first begin to hatch the plot for your new book and did you know right away where the action would take the readers?
I have spent 8 years writing and publishing four books about how the combination of corporate resources, when combined with the influence of the Government, and the support of the financial community, “The Three Princes of Tyranny” can be used to pursue constructive goals and sometimes not so responsible objectives.
Two years ago, having recalled President Eisenhower’s fare well speech warning the American public of the military complex’s growing influence in our government, I decided to research the events of the 1948 to 1952 era in an effort to gain a better understanding of what was happening.
By using the fictional lives of the main characters as vehicles for the telling of the story, I have attempted to utilize their experiences to speculate what they might have been done in opposition. The reader is allowed to ride side-saddle with the principal players, as the action unfolds in the entertainment capitals of Mexico, Southern California, New York, and London, and the “Oil Lobbyist” world of Washington, D.C.
What was the most challenging part of writing the story? How long did it take?
Typically, I use the first six months for concentrated study and organizing descriptive out lines. To properly tell the story I have found it necessary to break the big arc of the book into several sub-plots. Creating the different principal players, and the evolving events of their lives to carry each segment, is the most creative part of the process. Organizing the different sub-stories to simultaneously unwind and reach the ultimate conclusion all at the same time is always difficult.
The actual writing and the many re-writings requires another 12 months. Six months, and five levels of editing were required to achieve a final manuscript. All toll, the entire process requires about two years to complete.
Do you usually conduct field research receive or receive council from legal experts to get the details right? How would you go about doing that?
Once I have chosen the topic for my next book, typically I break my research into four separate categories:
My memory of the historical incidents and my initial reactions;
The development of a good bibliography of what has been previously written by highly regarded historians;
I try to read enough books and articles, written about the topic at the same time, but seen through the lens of different authors. By doing so, I hope to develop a sense of what the real story behind the story might have been. I then take advantage of newspaper archives to study what as reported at the time.
And finally, I talk to people I respect to learn of their reactions to what I have tentatively concluded.
Having connected the dots of history, with the lives of the principal players, I am ready to finalize the plot of the book.
What writers have been your inspiration in your career?
Always a prolific reader, when I think back, I believe there have been a number of authors, writing in different genres, who have formed the foundation for my writing efforts.
History (Non-Fiction). I have long appreciated how the efforts of William Manchester Ron Chernow, Alice Kerns Goodwin, David McCullough, Scott Anderson, and Peter Frankopan turn the reading of history into an interesting experience.
The Oil industry. The works of Anthony Sampson, David Yergin, John Perkins, and Robert Baer, have helped me to been helpful in my learning more about the self-serving goals of major industry, and ambitious agendas of governments justified by statements of “National Interest” can affect our lives.
Recent works of Kevin Phillips, Stephen Sestanovich have been helpful in better understanding how the effects of economic and political actions can alter our economy.
Daniel Goleman, in his seminal work, “Emotional Intelligence” illustrates the traits of effective leadership upon which we all depend.
The body of work of Allen Drury, Ken Follett, Eugene Burdick, Tom Clancy, Fredrick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum, Allan Furth, and George Crile, master story tellers all, portray the intrigue, the action, and the revelations of their principal characters necessary to create interesting reads.
Last, but clearly not least, are James Michener, Herman Wouk, and Wilbur Smith, who have mastered to art of combining well researched history with the personal character of their adventurous principal players to generate an interesting means of learning.
Do you have another book in the works?
Yes. Having recently completed four book that focus on what can happen when the “The Three Princes of Tyranny” devote their wealth and influence to the achievement of self-serving agendas of domestic economic opportunism, I selected the British and American joint sponsored plan, “Operation Ajax”, Iran, circa 1949 to 1953, designed to over throw Iran’s constitutional government and seize control of its oil industry. It is a good example of what can happened when “Majors World Powers”, in the name of preventing threats to “National Interest”, exert their collective power to pursue agendas of self-interest against a friendly sovereign nation.
The story of the demise of the Middle East’s first Constitutional Monarchy is told through the lives of the Pierre Roth, and Harshim Naraghii families, and their Sentinel colleagues spanning the fifty year history of Iran from 1903 to 1953.