ACCLAIMED AUTHOR & LEGAL SCHOLAR STEVEN T. COLLIS TO RELEASE NEW WORK – THE IMMORTALS -The Immortals tells an incredible, true story of heroism and sacrifice at the height of WWII-
SALT LAKE CITY – The inspiration behind Steven T. Collis’s new book, The Immortals, came from a small and simple thing: a three-cent postage stamp from the 1940s depicting four chaplains, a sinking ship, and the words “These Immortal Chaplains…Interfaith in Action.”
Intrigued, Collis learned the stamp was created to honor four military chaplains of different faiths — Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish — who made the ultimate sacrifice when a German U-boat attacked the SS Dorchester in February 1943. But during his research into what was one of the costliest troop disasters of WWII, Collis discovered another, often unrecognized, hero of the tragedy — Coast Guardsman Charles W. David, Jr.
“Charles W. David, Jr. was a young steward’s mate and one of the only Black Coast Guardsmen aboard the Coast Guard cutter Comanche,” says Collis. “While the Dorchester was sinking, David repeatedly dove into the frigid waters of the North Atlantic and single-handedly saved scores of sailors and soldiers. Sadly, his heroic efforts ultimately cost him his life, as he succumbed to pneumonia shortly after.”
Thoroughly researched and exquisitely narrated, The Immortals presents the story through dual points of view: the chaplains’ and David’s stories and the German U-boat captain’s. The U-boat commander and his crew kept meticulous journals and logs, allowing readers to experience a perspective not often seen in WWII histories.
Beyond conducting research through US and German military records and press reports, Collis was able to get detailed accounts of the event and its impact by interviewing actual survivors of the Dorchester as well as from descendants of Charles W. David, Jr., other survivors, and the chaplains. “The impact of these five men and their selfless acts of courage cannot be overstated,” Collis remarks. “Their sacrifices in the name of unity and service should be a shining example to all of us today – no matter our differences.”
The Immortals: The World War II Story of Five Fearless Heroes, the Sinking of the Dorchester, and an Awe-Inspiring Rescue will be available nationwide on May 11, 2021, wherever books are sold. For more information on Steven T. Collis and his works, visit: www.shadowmountain.com.
Steven T. Collis is the author of the nonfiction books Deep Conviction and The Immortals and the novel At Any Cost. He is a storyteller at heart, but in his other life, he is also a law professor at the University of Texas School of Law, where he is the faculty director of the Bech-Loughlin First Amendment Center and Texas’s Law & Religion Clinic.
Prior to joining the faculty at Texas, he was the Olin-Darling Research Fellow in the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School and was an equity partner at Holland & Hart LLP, where he chaired the firm’s nationwide religious institutions and First Amendment practice group.
Before embarking on his legal and writing career, Steven graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as an editor on the Michigan Law Review and the Michigan Journal of Race and Law. Steven also holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he served as the associate editor of the literary journal Blackbird. He completed his undergraduate studies, with university honors, at Brigham Young University.
Originally from New Mexico, Steven lives in Austin with his wife and children. He is on the web at www.steventcollis.com.
Virtual Book Launch Details: Join Steven T. Collis, author of THE IMMORTALS, and Bill Kaemmer, Exec. Dir. of the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation, as well as descendants from The Dorchester, for a special event.
Everyone who signs up will receive a free bookplate signed by Steven T. Collis, and there will be giveaways during the launch party.
young woman survives the unthinkable in this tale of family, love, and
resilience, set against the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
dreams of so much more than the marriage her parents have arranged to a
prosperous silversmith. Always curious and eager to explore, she must accept
the burden of being the dutiful daughter. Yet she is torn between her family
responsibilities and her own desires; she longs for the handsome Jacob, even
though he treats her like a child, and is confused by her attraction to the
Roman freedman Tiberius, a man who should be her sworn enemy.
the growing turmoil threatens to tear apart not only her beloved city,
Jerusalem, but also her own family. As the streets turn into a bloody battleground
between rebels and Romans, Esther’s journey becomes one of survival. She
remains fiercely devoted to her family, and braves famine, siege, and slavery
to protect those she loves.
emotional and impassioned saga, based on real characters and meticulous
research, seamlessly blends the fascinating story of the Jewish people with a
timeless protagonist determined to take charge of her own life against all
on an incredible true story!
NOTE AND HISTORICAL OVERVIEW:
back matter includes an Author Note, which gives historical context and
explains author’s inspiration for the book. Included as well is an historical
overview by an eminent scholar of the period.
DRIVEN HISTORICAL FICTION:
of THE RED TENT and THE DOVEKEEPERS will appreciate this incredibly detailed
and accurate depiction of historical events, woven within a richly told and
emotionally complex story of growth.
EMPOWERED FEMALE HEROINE:
the constraints of society and the savagery of war, Esther is an independent
thinker exploring her identity and her faith—and showing unimaginable strength
in the face of trauma.
BROUGHT TO LIFE:
destruction of the Temple in 70 CE by the Romans is a crucial part of the
Jewish story, but it’s often lost amid more well known historical legends. The
depiction of Esther’s faith is realistic and moving to a modern audience.
role of faith and family obligation is explored in depth.
story will resonate with people who love Biblical history, Israel and stories
about faith, courage and family bonds.
remarkable, mysterious, and meticulously researched story is one that demands
to be told.”—Kirkus Reviews
writing is clear, smooth, and accessible. An engaging story for historical
fiction fans.”—School Library Journal
Allegra Goodman, author The Cookbook Collector
by the Junior Library Guild
writer has had the greatest influence on you?
grandmother. Although she was never published, she always wrote short stories
and essays. Her passion for books and reverence for the written word had
a tremendous influence on me.
I always dreamed of becoming an author, I never found a way to fit it into my
already bursting-at-the-seams life with 4 kids and a busy career. Finding
thirty minutes of “quiet time” to write seemed about as realistic as
running a marathon.
At the age
of 50, I figured it was either now or never. It took me another ten years to
finish so I’m hardly the best person to ask for advice! I wrote in those
stolen moments between work and family, carpools and laundry. But the thing is
– those stolen moments eventually add up.
I see myself
more as a cautionary tale than an inspiration! ! But I suppose, if I can do it,
you can too. It’s never too late.
And my next
piece of advice? Don’t give up, finish! Some writers sprint to the finish
line and some (like me) hobble. But if you keep going, you’ll eventually get
Favorite childhood books
Hollisters – a mystery series for children. We used to get two every
month in the mail (remember what that is?) and my brother and I used to
fight over who got to read them first. I also remember pouring over the
biographies in the children’s section of the library. I don’t remember any of
the books but I still feel the distinctive ink and paper smell of that
neighborhood library and the blast of cold air from the noisy air conditioner.
impossible question! There are so many outstanding books and incredible writers
movies that take me back in time to exciting historical events, shown through
the eyes of someone there. Movies like Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List,
and Exodus to name a few.
Becoming a writer
avid readers, I’ve always had romantic notions of being a writer. Struck by the
muse, writing into the wee hours of the night and all that…..Being a writer
always seemed more like a fantasy than a realistic career path.
So I never
actually decided to become e a writer. I did decide, though, to write this
particular 2,000 year-old- love story. When I heard about the gravestone of
Claudia Aster (on whose life Rebel Daughter is based), I was intrigued. I
wanted to know more and slowly – very, very slowly since it took me 10 years! –
I wrote her story. It still feels slightly pretentious to call myself a writer
but maybe when I see the published book, I’ll feel like I earned the title!
do you write?
desk in the attic, surrounded by piles of books, bills, recipes and other
unruly papers that refuse to be tamed.
character most like me
I love to read about (and identify with) bold, adventurous heroines who change
the world, I’m probably most like Elizabeth Strout’s grumpy Olive Kitteridge or
Agatha Christie’s stubborn old Miss Marple.
Rock or old Country Music. When I’m sure my kids are at a safe distance away
(like in a foreign country), I’ve been known to crank up the Dolly Parton and
dance around the living room!
with fresh mint if I’m feeling like being nice to myself and instant decaf
coffee if not
I never feel
guilty about the books I’ve read, only about the ones I haven’t.
DAUGHTER takes us back in history to 70 CE, a tumultuous time for the
Jewish community in Jerusalem. What inspired you to write about this particular
period of time?
I didn’t set out to write about this
period. I fell into it by accident! I was inspired to write Esther’s story
after learning about the discovery of her two-thousand year-old gravestone, an
exciting and important archaeological find. It was the mystery behind the stone
that drew me in and made me want to know more. Who was she? How did a girl from
Jerusalem become a Roman woman buried in Italy?
there, I began to research the time period. I was stunned that I knew so little
about one of the most formative eras in human history. It is a fascinating
period that has many parallels with our world today, especially the civil
discord and religious fanaticism.
tell the story of Esther, the daughter of a priest. Esther is brave, bold, and
unafraid in spite of the challenges she faces as a young woman, including an
impending marriage to a man she does not love. Did you face any
challenges in creating a character that was historically accurate yet infused
with the ability to see beyond what was expected of her?
a great question because of course girls in the first-century didn’t have the
freedom we’re used to today. Sexism was not only alive and well, it was
considered necessary for the proper functioning of society. And I was
absolutely committed to writing a book that was historically accurate. I felt
an obligation not only to the real historical people whose story I was telling,
but also to my readers.
challenge was how to portray a bright, curious young woman who lived thousands
of years ago. For example, Esther had a thirst for knowledge, an innate human
trait. She wouldn’t have gone to school, of course, but scholars have
determined that there were women who were literate in first-century Jerusalem.
So she probably learned to read and write at home. And in Esther’s case, from
her father. I had to show how Esther navigated the very real gender barriers of
explore the daily life in Jerusalem in great detail – from chores and religious
practices to the struggles between the Jews and the Romans. Can you share a bit
about your research process?
call it a “process”! It was more like an obsession. I had a sense of obligation
to portray the time and setting as accurately as possible and a fanatic
attention to detail. I read literally hundreds of books, dissertations and
conference proceedings. I also worked closely with the leading historians of
this era. Luckily, I live in Israel and had access to the artifacts at the
Israel Museum, the archaeological sites all over the country, and the
world-class scholars at Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University. My “process”
is why this book took me 10 years to write! In retrospect, I realize that I
went completely overboard with the research but it truly was a labor of love.
were some interesting facts you discovered that did not make it into the book?
time do you have? There are so many! My first draft of the book was over 1000
pages because of all the “interesting facts”. My editor insisted that I
couldn’t describe everything – how face cream was made from sheep fat or bread
baked in clay ovens.
do you hope readers take away from REBEL DAUGHTER?
readers are taken away! I want them to have the feeling of going back in
time. I want them to enjoy the trip. That’s my main hope. And if the experience
makes them see our own world in a new light, then that’s a bonus.
Lori Banov Kaufmann:
soon as she learned of the discovery of the first-century tombstone that
inspired Rebel Daughter, Lori Banov Kaufmann wanted to know more. She was
captivated by the ancient love story the stone revealed and resolved to bring
it back to life.
becoming a full-time writer, Lori was a strategy consultant for high-tech
companies. She has an AB from Princeton University and an MBA from the Harvard
Business School. She lives in Israel with her husband and four adult children.
Summary from Goodreads:Battered by his past, Pete knows he has no business falling for anyone. But when time can’t heal a wound, love steps in to make it right. Based on a true story of the post–Civil War South, this gentle rustic romance will pull you in from the first page and leave you with a renewed hope in the power of real love.
Cathy’s Review: Pete is an honest man looking for honest work. His life hasn’t always been easy for him. His father was a drunk and a mean one at that. After his father dies, Pete ends up working long years to pay off his father’s debts before he’s able to strike out on his own looking for his own life. He has always had a bit of a stutter, but he’s able to hide it in his new life at Ridgemoor, simply by not speaking. The problem is that he falls in love with the daughter of the wealthy owner of Ridgemoor, Rosalynn Richie. He knows that there is no way that he will ever be able to marry this young lady and he begins to make plans to find a different work situation before she gets married. June is a young lady who’s been hurt by men before, she’s not looking for love anywhere, nor does she ever plan to be, but when Pete shows up looking for work at her home, and her father hires him, she begins to see that men can be kind and genuine and that maybe, just maybe there might be one for her sitting right at the dinner table looking back at her.
I had kind of a hard time getting into this story. I’m not sure quite why, but the beginning of the book didn’t hold my interest as much as some of the rest of it did. By the middle of the story I was into it, and the end had a big surprise that I didn’t see coming. I didn’t think that the characters in this book seemed as real as they do in some other books, they seemed a bit 2 dimensional to me. Maybe that’s kind of weird, but I like to get to “know” my characters and feel as though they are real and they could be friends of mine in real life, and I didn’t really get that with these characters.
Content: Rape scene, but not terribly descriptive
About the Author: As the youngest of thirteen children, Mandi Ellsworth grew up secure in the knowledge that she was the “star” of her family and didn’t realize until she left home that not everyone thought the same. Later, after traveling around for two years and going to three different colleges, Mandi met a man whom she would regularly out-eat and he didn’t mind. They’ve been happily married ever since. They have ree children and live wherever the wind takes them. Mandi’s children know public libraries better than grocery stores, and she likes it that way.