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'Paul: An American Story' is a compelling novella based on the author's recollections of family stories about his Great Uncle, Paul, who 'rode the rails' during the Great Depression and eventually migrated to California, the Land of Milk and Honey. Both historical and deeply personal, this book is a fictitious retelling of family history and stands as a reminder that good things can emerge from despair. The story begins with the return of a Prodigal Son, Paul, to his hometown after nearly five years as a wandering hobo 'riding the rails'. As the story unfolds, Paul is first beaten near to death, then resurrected, and ultimately reunited with his community and his family. Through Paul's story, readers are introduced to a fascinating array of characters who Paul encountered during his years of self-imposed exile as an American Hobo. Depression-Era rural Kansas provides the story's backdrop, illustrating a very different America than we know today. In addition to telling Paul's story, we are introduced to Dr. Thomas Browne, a modest small-town rural physician. But don't let his modest faade mislead you. Doc Browne learned much of his craft as a field surgeon in the trenches of France in WWI, the 'War to end all Wars'. Doc's 'Shell Shock', or PTSD as it is known today, rears its head throughout the story and mirrors Paul's own PTSD offering insight into not only the horrors of war but to the problems many of us face when life's events spin out of our control. Paul's parents, Maude, and L.A. Thompson, along with a cast of characters, compliment this sometimes violent, sometimes nostalgic, and often mystical story. This is a story that emits emotion and draws its readers into the events and conditions that were definitive of rural America during the Great Depression. Despite the darkness of the era, this tale's conclusion will leave its readers with a feeling of hope and redemption. As Paul is quoted, 'Sometimes you need to get knocked out before you can wake up.'
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