Excerpts

“They will not win. You said it yourself. This is America. Such things do not happen here.”

—From Chapter 18

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"A riveting story … this striking debut is essential reading for our times."

—Judith Frank, author of All I Love and Know

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THIS IS HOW IT BEGINS, A NOVEL

Click to hear Joan Dempsey read an excerpt from chapter 7.

What Ludka admired most about the painting "Prelude, 1939" was that it captured the insularity of the people, the way they had so clearly huddled into themselves, individually or with one or two loved ones. There was no eye contact among any of them, not one glance, with one notable exception—the poor street busker searched the faces of the passersby, pleading for even the briefest of connections. He got nowhere, and to Ludka’s mind his raised bow, jaunty with hope and forever suspended above his tilted, empty violin case, was the epicenter of the whole tragic painting.

—From Chapter 1


At the state house, Lolek passed the top of the Grand Staircase and walked up a set of narrow marble steps to the fourth floor, his energy increasing with each step. Tommy had not seemed scared, exactly, but bewildered; he’d always possessed an abiding faith in people’s innate goodness, a faith Lolek himself had instilled and encouraged in his children and still, for the most part, believed. Tommy, however, had finally run headlong into someone else’s differing definition of good, someone else’s unwavering faith, and it pained Lolek that Tommy would soon discover what Lolek had learned his first year in office: a person’s faith—however defined—could be as entrenched and unmovable as the granite cornerstone anchoring the state house itself; reason was powerless to budge it.

—From Chapter 5


Despite the fine, icy snow that had fallen overnight, and the frigid wind that blasted across Boston Harbor and rushed through the meandering canyons of the building-flanked streets to tear out onto the Boston Common, the counterdemonstrators arrived just as Warren Meck had prayed they would, en masse and on time, shortly before the rally's first scheduled presenter. The crowd had tripled in the last fifteen minutes. The initial group—roughly two hundred in support of the ousted teachers—was at first overjoyed about the sudden influx of newcomers, but soon became wary. Every one of the new additions wore or carried something red ...

—From Chapter 17

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