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Once a World

by McDonald, Craig

Across a series of awards-nominated, internationally praised novels, Craig McDonald has depicted the secret history of the 20th Century through the eyes of author Hector Lassiter. Now, in this standalone prequel to the Lassiter saga, we see a young Hector and America as both struggle to find their way in an increasingly dangerous new age.

Once a World is a bildungsroman set in a time seemingly distant, yet disarmingly of the moment—a legendary then, anticipating our disturbingly uncertain now

At the age of sixteen, aspiring writer Hector Lassiter, inspired by propaganda and the siren’s song of throbbing war drums, lies about his age, saddles up, and rides off into Mexico behind the dashing General “Black Jack” Pershing and a blood-lusting Lt. George S. Patton to capture Pancho Villa and avenge the deaths of numerous American murdered in a bloody attack of a border town. 

But the expedition south of the border is swiftly laid bare as a cynical training ground for a far deadlier conflict, one that will find these same young soldiers scrambling to survive in the trenches of France in the so-called “War to End All Wars.” 

Soon enough, the under-age Hector indeed finds himself in Europe, fighting in the “Great War” and driving ambulances to and from the Italian front with fellow novelists-in-waiting, John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway. 

Once a World is novel about war, but also a love story that is at once epic and intimate, a portrait of the artist—and the four remarkable women who shape the young Hector Lassiter as a writer and a man—during a defining moment of world history. A portrait of the crime novelist as a young man. 

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Comments

“A writer of truly unique voice, approach, and ambition.”

Reviews: Michael Koryta

What critics might call eclectic and Eastern folks quirky, we Southerners call cussedness—and it's the cornerstone of the American genius. As in: "There's a right way, a wrong way, and my way." You want to see how that looks on the page, pick up any of Craig McDonald's novels.

Reviews: James Sallis

“Reading a Hector Lassiter novel is like having a great uncle pull you aside, pour you a tumbler of rye, and tell you a story about how the 20th century really went down.”

Reviews: Duane Swierczynski

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