Land of the Sun _cover

Land of the Sun, Land Without Light

1967. The Cold War drags on. A hot war becomes even hotter, trusting it to the patriotism of American youth. But Harrison Hamblin answers a different call. To honor his ideals, he joins the Peace Corps as a teacher. One who thinks that he knows a lot, but will learn that he knows very little.

The third world is choosing up sides and angling for aid. Countries will play both sides and manipulate the idealists. And local internecine warfare will carry on as proxies for the Cold War antagonists. So how could Harry’s efforts for peace and reconciliation lead to the death of friends and to tragedy and despair?

Land of the Sun is to a great extent a bildungsroman written by a narrator who writes in a humorous and self-deprecating style. Much of the drama (and humor) derives from intercultural differences and misunderstandings as well post colonial confusion. The cultural information is true and accurate. To a degree, The story is populated by a variety of tribesmen with their own cultural secrets as well as French, Soviet and American aid workers. Most importantly, the author has used the power of imagination and knowledge to inform, entertain, and captivate the reader—to create this unusual and sometimes even unbelievable story.


When a young Peace Corps volunteer is recruited for a “second job,” we are thrust into a new heart of darkness—and light. A rich, thrilling LeCarre-esque journey into the tribal and geopolitical wars of 1960s Africa.

-Kenneth W. Davis, Professor Emeritus of English, Indiana University

This novel is “…an intense and intricate political thriller…”

-Austin Macauley Publishers


Land of the Sun, Land Without Light  

…. they come not single spies, but in battalions

                                                                   – Hamlet


Then he slipped away from us.  And from the fury and the storm of our chaotic world.  Quietly.  Unobtrusively.  As I think he had come to live in it.

He had barely achieved his sixtieth year.  So he never knew the grudging respect or the recognition that comes to many—to those of his class, education, and stature–when they achieve late middle age, if nothing else.  But he would not have missed that.

He slipped away alone.  No death watch.  No renting of garments.  His marriage broken long ago; the daughter never really known to him; our parents, our sister, gone.

The hastily organized memorial was lightly attended.  The family of us Hamblins mostly.  Some distant cousins.

There was only the Priest’s brief eulogy. And the mass.

None would identify as his colleagues or former colleagues.  Except for a distinguished looking older gentleman, a Dr. Norman, I believe he wrote in signing the remembrance book—or it could have been “Noman.” He also wrote “RIP Old Sport.”

Perhaps in those years of demanding professional focus he had never created the bonds that more easily solidify in later life when mutual memory provides the motive.  Perhaps something else.

And so his passing held for me, his only brother, an unexplainable and grating sadness.  The loss of scintillating, though infrequent conversations while sipping single-malt whiskeys. A mystery and a nagging nostalgia for something unknown.

To the surprise of no one, I was designated executor of his estate.  And so I began the laborious process of sifting through the collectibles of nearly 40 years.  And I noticed that he made hardly a mark in a world most often measured, at least in death, by the breadth of acquisition.

This is when I found this most remarkable story: A sort of manuscript-diary in many parts and letters stuffed haphazardly among his eclectic collection of literary and popular novels, obscure poetry, and historical tracts.  Once I had gathered them together and tried unsuccessfully to determine their exact order, I was nevertheless caught in their astonishing sway for nights on end, even neglecting my duties as officer of the court. I will never know the true order of these pages and composition books though some of them were dated; and I added assumed months and even days to other entries. So I have taken liberties in presenting them, sometimes inserting pieces and paragraphs where they seem to belong.

I was at first astounded and I am still overcome with an ineffable sadness that this courageous, ingenious man passed through our lives unknown to us.

It was at the peak of the cold war, with a hot war raging in Asia, that he was sent by our government to a far, obscure corner of the world—nearly another universe—in the service of our ideology…..”