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James Anderson O'Neal for "Riley and the Great War"

  • SubText Books 6 West 5th Street Saint Paul, MN, 55102 United States (map)

Join SubText Books on Thursday, May 24th at 7pm in the store for an event with James Anderson O'Neal! O'Neal will read and discuss his new book, "Riley and the Great War," which features Operation Blücher (May 27–June 4, 1918) and the Battle of Cantigny (May 28, 1918), among various other historical events such as the Punitive Expedition and the Spartacist Uprising. Book signing to follow!

About the book:
Missouri boys Riley and Cornelius see their fortunes rise and fall with the twists and turns of the Twentieth Century — or at least, that’s what they’d have us believe. Riley is a taciturn farm boy with a talent for fighting and an irresistible yen for adventure. Cornelius is a smart fast-talker with a penchant for finding trouble, especially with women.

Running off to Mexico, the boys join the Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villa, falling under the wing of George Patton. When a mysterious Spaniard comes into the picture, the group is kidnapped and made prisoners of Villa, but the Spaniard seems to have his own darker agenda underneath it all. After escaping, the boys enlist to fight in the Great War. In the trenches, they find themselves in the thick of battle when Patton reappears, tasking them with helping to defend “the most important man in France” from a German plot — but is that man French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, visiting British dignitary Winston Churchill, or someone else?

In the ensuing mêlée, Riley and Cornelius are separated. Eventually, they’re reunited in the struggle for Germany between the Communists and the Freikorps, the fascists who would later become the core of the Nazi party. Everything comes down to a fixed boxing match refereed by an embittered young Austrian fascist with a Charlie Chaplin mustache. Told through the efforts of the grandson of the two friends, digging through their stories and unclear as to where the truth lies, Riley and the Great War presents an engaging picaresque with a unique take on history and its major figures.

About the author:
Minnesota author James Anderson O’Neal’s long career as a trial lawyer won him recognition as a Fellow in the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. Currently, he serves as the Vice Chair of the Advocates for Human Rights.


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