Brad Thor’s Foreign Agent


“Complicated problems don’t often have simple solutions,” says New York Times best selling author Brad ThorForeign Agent cover whose latest novel, Foreign Agent (Simon & Schuster 2016; $27.99), is very timely considering the recent events such as the massacre in Orlando, Florida. “My novels let people peer into the worlds of espionage and counterterrorism. What I’m trying to do with my thrilleBrad Thor_Fotorrs is beat the headlines. Often times, you can’t tell where the facts end and the fiction begins.

With a growing interest in how, for certain people, the Quran is used to justify violence, Thor, whose other thrillers include Code of Conduct and Blowback (which NPR listed as one of the “Top 100 Killer Thrillers of All Time”), immersed himself in the life of Mohammed, the seventh century Islamic leader. Thor traces Mohammad’s early peaceful beginnings in Mecca to his later years when he led 10,000 Muslim converts on Medina in a bloody confrontation. Using what he learned as part of the fabric of his book, Foreign Agent is the latest in the Scott Harvath series.

Harvath, a former Navy SEAL and the kind of guy you definitely want on your side in a fight, is on the hunt across Europe and the Middle East for those responsible for an ambush of American operatives near Syria and a man he considers capable of the greatest evil ever known.

In Foreign Agent, Thor has created a thriller that is not only riveting but also offers a historic and personal perspective on events that we read about in today’s news.


What: Brad Thor book signing

When: June 25 at 1 p.m.

Where: COSTCO, 2746 N. Clybourne Ave., Chicago, IL

FYI: 773-360-2053;





Dog Gone: A Lost Pet’s Extraordinary Journey and the Family Who Brought Him Home

When six-year-old Gonker, a much loved family pet decided to do some typical canine spontaneous off-site exploring when navigating the Appalachian Trail with his owner Fielding Marshall, he was expected to shortly return. But after a while, while calling the six-year old Golden Retriever’s name, Marshall began to worry that his dog was lost. To make it even more serious, Gonker suffered from Addison’s9781101947012—a serious disease that effects dogs and is characterized by a deficient production of glucocorticoids and/or mineralocorticoids. If Gonker doesn’t get the necessary hormone medication needed to control the disease, he will die within 23 days.

The story of the search for Gonker is told by Marshall’s brother-in-law, journalist Pauls Toutonghi is his latest book, Dog Gone: A Lost Pet’s Extraordinary Journey and the Family Who Brought Him Home (Knopf 2016; $25). It’s a tale of a family’s search to find their dog in time and also of how, after Fielding’s mother, Virginia, sets up a command center, the community and ultimately the country. Indefatigable—she long had mourned the loss of her own dog decades ago, Virginia uses a map and phone book to jumpstart what will become a nationwide network of those wanting to help find and save Gonker. Relentlessly contacting radio stations, park rangers, animal shelters, the police and local retail stores, Gonker’s disappearance and the family’s search gets a write-up in a local newspaper where it is picked up by AP. Before long the nation is offering their help in finding the missing dog.


What: Pauls Toutonghi conversation and book signing

When: Saturday, June 11 at 11:45 am

Where: Printers Row Lit Festival, South Loop Stage, Dearborn Street, Chicago



Folk City: New York and the American Folk Music Revival

There was a time when folk music rang out across the nation, signaling a call to social change. Among its leaders were such well known musicians as Bob Dylan and the trio known by their first names — Peter, Paul and Mary.

But though they reigned in the 1950s and ’60s and were part of the New York folk music scene, the roots of the city becoming a magnet for folk musicians date back even earlier as is chronicled in “Folk City: New York and the American Folk Music Revival” (Oxford University Press 2015; $39.95). It is written by Stephen Petrus, an Andrew W. Mellon research fellow at the New-York Historical Society, and Ronald D. Cohen, emeritus professor of history at Indiana University Northwest.

“I start out in the 1920s when musicians started coming to the city to record,” said Cohen, who lives in Miller Beach. ”There were hillbilly and blues musicians from the South, Phil Ochs from Texas and Woody Guthrie who grew up in Oklahoma but moved to New York from Texas.”

Cohen long has been fascinated with folk music, having written numerous books on the subject, including “The Pete Seeger Reader” (OUP, 2014), “Woody Guthrie: Writing America’s Songs” and was the co-producer/writer of the 10-CD boxed set “Songs for Political Action: Folk Music, Topical Songs and the American Left 1926-1954.”

When Petrus was put in charge of Folk City, a multi-media exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, he asked Cohen to lead the committee for the exhibit. It features original instruments, handwritten lyrics and video and film footage showing folk music’s growth and impact on American politics and culture.

“Then they decided to have a companion book, and Steve asked me to be his co-author,” said Cohen, noting the book contains many rare photos, original documents and first-hand interviews with those from that time period.

Cohen said New York is much more important than any other city because it attracts so many musicians, recording studio executives, producers and other performers.

“I knew a lot as I’d written a lot about the history of folk music,” said Cohen, whose next book, “Depression Folk,” is coming out in spring. “But I had to research Greenwich Village and what is happening there.”

Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, which is near the New York University campus, was seen as the epicenter of the folk music revival. It attracted so many musicians and their followers that in 1961 the city parks commissioner tried to shut it down because he saw people coming “from miles away to display the most terrible costumes, haircuts, etc. and who play bongo drums and other weird instruments, attracting a weird public.” But the folk musicians played on.

“Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival” is at the Museum of the City of New York, Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street;

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