BOOK BEAT Naples Sun Times February 21, 2007
by Philip K. Jason
When J. D. Sousa came to the United States from his native South Africa in 1993, he was still carrying around in his head questions and ideas that had engaged him since high school. Sousa settled in the San Francisco area and built a career in real estate and business management, but the ideas kept swirling in his head – ideas about secret societies, empires built and lost, seeming miracles with no definitive explanations, and past accomplishments that seemed beyond the technologies of by-gone eras. By 1997, he had prepared enough of a scheme for the literary exploration of these issues to register a copyright with the U. S. Library of Congress.
But the project just wasn’t getting off the ground. When Sousa and his family relocated to Naples in 2004, he turned his attention more and more toward getting the remaining research done – and the writing. Now the first volume in his projected “Untold Legends” series is in print. Titled The Rise of Empires, it launches Sousa’s fictional exploration of the quest for a single World Order – a quest that leads him to probe, through research and imagination, the planet’s major civilizations, their leaders, and their ideologies.
Sousa’s goal is to make his readers look at 30,000 years of history from a new perspective, to question the orthodox views, and to see the bearing of this new perspective on contemporary events. For example, the standard answers to “who build the pyramids” don’t satisfy Sousa, nor do they explain why they are found not just in Egypt but, with variations, all over the world. To this end, Sousa dramatizes the sanctioned historical record and traditional understanding while challenging its improbabilities, weaving into his narrative both historical figures and fictional ones. The latter characters serve as the readers’ surrogates, giving immediacy and relevance to the unfolding revelations.
Sousa tempts us as follows: “In the winter of 1999, twenty-seven stories below the Las Vegas, Nevada desert area, the U. S. government was robbed. The vault was emptied and the codes were cracked. The incident not only triggered the most significant series of international events in modern history, bit it also resumed the countdown of sequential actions designed to alter the course of men, leaders, and governments, as well as the structure of world order and dominion, that man has known the past 4,000 years. It is all a matter of time.”
This last sentence Sousa means quite literally. His vision posits that time is a manmade construct, the use and misuse of which maps the course of the past and potentially the future. Who controls the “it” that is time itself? How do potential lessons learned become unlearned, their mistakes repeated, their patterns echoed from generation to generation and epoch to epoch? Can this cycle be broken? Should it be?
But maybe J. D. Sousa is just putting one over on us. When I asked him whether his premise was just an intriguing device to spring his fiction or something more deeply held, his answer was more “what if” rather than clear-cut commitment. In a way it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that his premise is intriguing, his narrative compelling, and his ambition rather astounding. To juxtapose his present-time protagonist – Sam Rutherford – against a cast of characters that includes the biblical Moses, Joshua, David and Solomon is a neat trick. From here it’s just a hop, skip, and jump to King Cyrus, Plato and Socrates (with Aristotle around the corner), and Alexander the Great. Did I mention a member of the Russian Mafia named Nick? Throw him in too, travel the known world, and you get the idea.
What lies ahead? “World Domination, “The Rise of the Templar Order,” “The Silk Road,” “The New World,” “The Nazis,” “SIRC,” “Genesis,” and “Revelations.”
You can find out more about the book and the series, and place your order, on the website legendsuntold.com. And you can meet J. D. Sousa among the dozens of exhibitors at the Authors and Books Festival at International College on February 25 from 10am to 4pm. He’ll be glad to sign your book.
Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at firstname.lastname@example.org.