In 1904 Czarist Russia, four-year-old Max witnesses the rape and murder of his mother by Russian soldiers. After the boy’s father extracts terrible revenge, father and son escape to New York, a teeming melting pot of immigrants. Max meets a young Polish girl, Sophie, who grows into a stunningly beautiful young woman. The two fall in love but their plans are shattered when Sophie is forced to marry a local crime boss and, once again, Max must watch as the most important person in his life is taken from him.
Thus begins Max’s ruthless climb to dominance of the New York underworld and Sophie’s transformation from a submissive girl to a strong woman who will allow no man determine her fate.
Ten Things About Me by Kenneth Bromberg
1. I’ve traveled the world in search of good chocolate.
The best I ever found was a handmade bar in the little town of Melk, Austria, but France and Switzerland also weigh in with excellent products. Surprisingly delicious confections are produced in Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. Hershey’s, made in America, is at the bottom of the barrel but small, independent manufacturers in New York and California are quite good. England, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan all make valiant efforts but I was unable to find anything really good in these countries.
2. I’m not the first writer in my family. My kids are.
My sons have co-written two movie scripts that turned into films. The first was a low-budget action flick starring Jean Claude van Damme and the second, of the same genre, stars Ryan Phillippe and should be released on Netflix within a year. I’m trying to catch up with my children.
3. I had a very pleasant chat with OJ Simpson and his ex-wife Nicole, three months before he murdered her. It was a good lesson for a writer.
The elementary school behind our house was used as a neighborhood playground on weekends during the 90’s. My youngest son went to play in the sandbox and I dutifully followed. He was playing with another five-year old whose father, OJ Simpson, was attending. As is common with fathers watching their kids together, we began to talk. Soon his ex-wife strolled over and joined us. They were both there for their daughter’s basketball practice and seemed to be on good terms. OJ was personable and generous, giving an autograph to my eldest son who eventually realized whom I was speaking with. It was graphic demonstration of how easily a person can hide his true self from people he meets.
4. My dad was a rocket scientist who played a key role in the moon landing.
My father, a PhD in engineering, was in charge of the lunar excursion module descent engine that landed the astronauts on the moon. I still remember him calling from Mission Control, both excited and relieved that it had succeeded. In addition, he solved a crucial thermodynamics problem that enabled the US to deploy ICBM’s (intercontinental ballistic missiles) before the Russians were able to. I didn’t know about that until after he died due to military secrecy and fear of kidnapping. I learned about it by reading a memorial posted by the National Academy of Sciences.
5. My mom was a holocaust survivor
My mother was born in Berlin and was ten years old when Adolph Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. It was a difficult time, culminating in November, 1938, with the infamous pounding on the door, soldiers marching in and taking her father. He was in Sachsenhausen concentration camp until March, 1939, when he was temporarily released in order to officially transfer his business to Nazi ownership. Aided by a courageous German, the family used the precious time
to escape, days before the gestapo came for all of them. My mom was sixteen when she arrived in America.
6. My day job for thirty-five years was as a Certified Public Accountant, which gave me material that I used in my first novel
My work as an accountant provided knowledge not only of financial transactions and balance sheets, but also of banking operations and money laundering, knowledge I make use of in my novel.
7. I supported myself for several years as a bartender, even though I don’t drink
I worked in Los Angeles in the 70’s, when the bar life was in full swing. It was a bit wild and crazy and the fact that I was reliably sober increased my value to management. It’s from this experience that I draw my knowledge of a working bar, which I use in my novel.
8. As a teenager, I became an excellent photographer because I was a terrible surfer.
I grew up in a Southern California beach town overlooking a popular surf spot. The cool kids surfed, so I tried my best. Unfortunately, I had poor balance and was horrible at surfing. But I quickly realized that surfers are uniformly narcissistic and set out to provide photographs. I set up a darkroom in my house and it turned out to be something for which I had real talent. It kept me in with the in crowd and had the added benefit of providing a little money.
9. My first photo class was from Ansel Adams.
Wanting to become better at my craft, I signed up for a seminar at a local community college. In 1969, Adams was well known to photographers but not yet a household name and he needed the money that teaching provided. So, my initial photography class was from the man who would become the best-known photographer in America and, in my opinion, the best.
10. As a young man I hiked the two hundred eleven-mile John Muir Trail that traverses the tallest peaks in the lower forty-eight states.
This was before GPS or cell phones and required extensive planning, compass use and orienteering. It was a spectacular experience I’ll never forget, and gave me confidence at a young age that I could achieve anything I wanted to. It was a thought I revisited when I began my first novel.
Thank you, Kenneth Bromberg and Random Things Tours.
About the author
Kenneth Bromberg grew up in the beach cities of
Southern California with a passion for tennis, American
history,and literature. He attended the University of
California,Los Angeles,after which he worked for several
years as a bartender. He eventually returned to UCLA to
pursue an MBA and become acertified public accountant.
After retiring from accounting, Kenneth fulfilled alifelong dream of
becoming a novelist. His first work, American Dreams, is based upon stories
told by his grandmother who immigrated to New York from asmall Jewish
village near Kiev in the first years of the 20th century. If you like Mario Puzo’s
The Godfatherand Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, you will love this debut
He lives in Santa Monica, California, with his wife of forty years.