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Robert Stone: Dog Soldiers, A Flag for Sunrise, Outerbridge Reach (slipcased edition)

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“I love America, so it enrages me—if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be so angry, nor would I make America my subject.” Fueled by this incandescent fury, Robert Stone’s fiction combined the taut storytelling of thrillers with writing of often hallucinatory intensity, earning the praise of such novelists as Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, and Jonathan Lethem. This volume brings together for the first time three of his greatest novels, masterpieces of physical and moral extremity that brilliantly capture the desperate underside of American life in the 1970s and 80s.

In Dog Soldiers (1974) a wartime scheme to smuggle three kilos of heroin from Saigon to California draws in John Converse, a disillusioned and fearful journalist no longer bound by “moral objections”; Marge, his disaffected, opiate-addicted wife; and his friend Ray Hicks, a former marine and student of Zen who lives by his own warrior code. Their plot is overtaken by Antheil, a corrupt drug “regulatory agent,” setting in motion a deadly chase from Berkeley to Los Angeles and across the Southwest. Through a series of corrosive and often nightmarish encounters with tabloid hacks, psychopathic criminals, counterculture predators, Hollywood poseurs, and failed cult leaders, Stone explores the wreckage left behind by the failed hopes of the 1960s. A feverish novel of suspense, Dog Soldiers ranks alongside the work of Michael Herr and Tim O’Brien as an impassioned reckoning with how the Vietnam War changed America.

A richly layered political thriller set in Central America, A Flag for Sunrise (1981) depicts a left-wing uprising in the fictitious republic of Tecan and its impact on four North Americans: Father Egan, an alcoholic priest burdened by dreadful secrets; Sister Justin Feeney, an idealistic nun drawn to the revolutionary cause; Frank Holliwell, a visiting anthropologist with CIA connections; and Pablo Tabor, a Coast Guard deserter driven by rage and amphetamines. Through their actions, and those of assorted revolutionaries, gun runners, freelance spies, murderous fanatics, compromised intellectuals, and sadistic policemen, Stone explores the costs of religious and political faith in a dark and terrifying universe.

In Outerbridge Reach (1992) Owen Browne, a yacht salesman who served in Vietnam, turns away from the superficiality of his comfortable life in 1980s America to test his courage and resolve in a solo round-the-world boat race. His decision draws the attention of Ron Strickland, a documentary filmmaker intent on exposing the hidden truth about his subject, and strains the loyalties of his wife, Anne. Alone in the South Atlantic, Browne, facing the outward challenges of the sea and the inner perils of isolation and doubt, will discover his true capacity for both deception and enlightenment.

Madison Smartt Bell is professor of English at Goucher College and the author of fifteen novels, including his acclaimed Haitian Revolution trilogy, three collections of short stories, and five works of nonfiction. He is the author of Child of Light: A Biography of Robert Stone (2020) and the editor of The Eye You See With (2020), a selection of Stone’s nonfiction writing.

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