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Editorial Reviews

"[In] Smith's terrific new novel....[she] illuminates the force of McCarthyism-generated fear in the Midwest and effectively personalizes it through the persecution the Kusak family endures for their liberal beliefs. The author also skillfully ties together the two time periods, avoiding melodrama." (Publishers Weekly)

Publisher's Summary

From the widely praised author of the FBI Special Agent Ana Grey series and A Star for Mrs. Blake, this riveting epic drama follows the Kusek family from New York City to America's heartland, where they are caught up in the panic of McCarthyism, a smear campaign, a sensational trial, and, ultimately, murder.

Calvin Kusek, a WWII pilot and attorney, and his wife, Betsy, escape the 1950s conformity of New York City to relocate to a close-knit town in South Dakota. They settle on a ranch and Betsy becomes a visiting nurse, befriending a quirky assortment of rural characters. Their children, Jo and her brother Lance, grow up caring for animals and riding rodeo. Life isn't easy, but it is full and rewarding. When a seat in the State Assembly becomes available, Cal jumps at the chance to repay the community and serves three popular terms.

Things change when Cal runs for the US Senate. The FBI investigates Betsy, and a youthful dalliance with the Communist Party surfaces to haunt the Kuseks. Mass hysteria takes over, inflamed by Cal's political enemies. Driven by fear and hate, their neighbors turn, condemning them as enemies and spies. The American Dream falls apart overnight as the Kuseks try to protect their children from the nightmare that follows. The family is vindicated in a successful libel lawsuit, but the story doesn't end there: years later, Lance Kusek and his wife and son are brutally attacked, and the mystery then unfolds as to who committed this coldblooded murder, and are they related to the stunning events of decades earlier?

©2017 April Smith (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Smith's second historical novel delves into the McCarthy era and how one family is swept up in its fanaticism....[She] perceptively brings this dark period in US history to light in her dramatic family saga." (Deborah Donovan, Booklist)
"With an upbeat narration, Cady McClain sets the tone for this timely look at a shameful episode in American history, the McCarthy era.... The combination of political ignorance and religious bigotry, delivered intelligently by McClain, makes for un-put-down-able listening." (AudioFile)

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If you are looking true history this is not the book for you

As a native of Rapid City and having friends who live in the areas talked about in the book I was appalled at what she touted as history. Our hospital, for which I work, is just now getting an underground parking structure. The missiles were not hated as indicated but seen as a revenue generator. The wind does not blow all the time. There is so much wrong that I would have to write a book. If you want to write a story that does not even come close to resembling a town then just make up a name.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Poor audio production

I can’t rate the story because I couldn’t tolerate the poor production. I normally listen to books in the car with the volume between 25 and 30. I had to crank this up to the mid 50s. It was echoey, sounded like it was recorded in someone’s garage. It is the first audio book I couldn’t finish or for that matter get into.