|About the Book|
The central figure of this novel is a young man whose parents were executed for conspiring to steal atomic secrets for Russia. His name is Daniel Isaacson. As the story opens his parents have been dead for years. Hes had a long time to adjust to their deaths. He hasnt adjusted. Out of the shambles of his childhood, hes constructed a new life--marriage to an adoring girl, a son & a career in scholarship. Its a life that enrages him. In the silence of the library at Columbia University, where hes supposedly writing a dissertation, Daniel composes something different. Its a confession of his most intimate relationships--with his wife, his foster parents & his kid sister Susan, whose own radicalism reproaches him. Its a book of memories: riding a bus with his parents to the ill-fated Paul Robeson concert in Peekskill- watching the FBI take his father away- appearing with Susan at rallies protesting their parents innocence- visiting them in the Death House. Its a book of investigation: transcribing Daniels interviews with people who knew his parents, or who knew about them- & logging his strange researches & discoveries in the library stacks. Its a book of judgments of everyone involved in the case--lawyers, police, informers, friends & the Isaacson family itself. Its a book rich in characters, from elderly grandmothers of immigrant culture, to covert radicals of the McCarthy era, to hippie marchers on the Pentagon. Its a book that spans the quarter-century of American life since WWII. Its a book about the nature of Left politics in this countrys sacrificial rites, its peculiar cruelties, its humility, its bitterness. Its a book about some of the beautiful & terrible feelings of childhood. Its about the nature of guilt & innocence, about the relations of people to nations. Its The Book of Daniel.