Historical Background


  1. In telling Patrick's story, the author also tells the story of postwar America. What insights can you make about American life and culture compared to life today? What are the basic values that govern the American psyche in each chapter? How do these values affect the actions, beliefs and decisions of the characters?


  1. The author opens the novel with the quote by George Santanya: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." What are the mistakes in America's past? Are we repeating the mistakes of the past today?  The author ends each chapter with a quotation. Which quotations are most moving to you? Which quotations reflect your beliefs and philosophies?


  1. Patrick meets many men who have been important in helping to shape America's politics and foreign policies. The author has tried to remain true to the research about these men in crafting his story. (In fact, the author encourages readers to do further research on their own by supplying his extensive bibliography.) Which men were the most influential in shaping Patrick's beliefs? What things were surprising to you about the historical personages in the novel?