Of Things To Come: David Morrell’s TESTAMENT is more relevant than ever.

testament

The books in my personal library are like old friends. I visit some more than others. Coming inside after a hard four-mile run I searched for something to read while recovering from the exertion.   The numerous vile and vicious acts of racial and religious bigotry that erupted after the Trump victory are disturbing and my mind had taken itself in a direction that I preferred not to go yet was impelled to travel.

Is this post-election onslaught of bigotry merely a prologue of things to come? Ugly, sinister things long lying in the musty shadows of American society, now slithering out from their dank corners? With the apparent ascendancy of the extremist alt-right movement during the recent presidential campaign and the appointment of its chief spokesman Stephen Bannon as President-elect Trump’s idea man it is a frightening possibility.

Even in literature the past can be prologue. So with that in mind, I reached up and brought down a volume of David Morrell’s Testament, a very old friend, which I must confess I had not read in decades. Published in 1975, it was David’s second novel, appearing three years after his famed and timeless First Blood.  More than forty years have passed since then but the events of the past year—and the past few days—make Testament a must read.  A read that should make every journalist, every writer tremble with fear, with anger and, hopefully, with rage and determination.

It is the stomach-churning saga of writer turned journalist Reuben Bourne who had researched violent white supremacist groups. When Kess, the sociopathic leader of one of the most evil of these groups, offered Bourne an interview, it was with the promise that Kess and the movement would be portrayed in a flattering light. Reuben, however, faced with the journalistic ethic of writing facts—and writing a blockbuster article—exposed the malevolent Kess and his movement for what they were. Kess now made a promise to Reuben. He was going to kill the journalist and his entire family.

This twisted vengeance was soon coming: First Reuben’s five-year-old son and his cat were poisoned, then his eight-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted and his house firebombed. When the policemen guarding his home were gunned down, Reuven took his wife and daughter and ran, ran as far as he could, but no matter where he went, how deep into the wilderness he retreated, the terror was unrelenting as assassins were always close behind.

Would the horror ever end? Would evil triumph over good? Morrell leaves these questions unanswered at the end. It is up to us to answer them. Not on the pages of a book but in our daily lives. It is too easy, too glib to say good always triumphs in the end. For the evil that men can do in the meantime can be devastating to the soul of our society. So get a hold of a copy of Testament, read it, ask yourself that question and then ask yourself what are you going to do about it.

 

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