Cold War Thriller Portrays Moral Conflict of Patriotism in Tale of Romance and Mutiny
Historical Fiction Author, Amerigo Merenda, has returned with an eBook that questions totalitarian culture and offers readers a glimpse of what life would have been like behind the Iron Curtain.
Before Putin and Russia Gate, there was the Soviet Union and the nation’s cultural and geographical isolation, as well as its totalitarian mindset. As a European and American history teacher for over 35 years, Merenda was fascinated by Russia. “I originally wrote ‘The Soviet Network’ 40 years ago as a screenplay, which I had submitted for copyright protection,” said Merenda, “As my knowledge of communist totalitarianism expanded with reading, teaching, lecturing, and graduate classes, I decided to transform the screenplay into a novel where I could expand ideas and characters around a dramatic story.”
“The Soviet Network” begins in 1980s Russia and the tide has turned on the Communist Party. Commander Rypchensky, Merenda’s protagonist, is no longer onboard with his government’s ideology. Life in a police state lost its meaning for the commander as Russia went to war with Afghanistan and his family and friends’ basic human rights became oppressed. Rypchensky assembles an underground network of writers, laborers, police, party officials, and even a couple KGB agents to overthrow the government. News of Rypchensky’s underground movement gets leaked and puts his family in grave danger.
In addition to Rypchensky’s personal conflict, Merenda weaves in a romantic subplot involving the protagonist’s son and his girlfriend. As Rypchensky’s son steps into an important role in the underground network, his girlfriend strives to defect to New York and escape the political turmoil. The relationship illustrates how totalitarian culture, as well as the power struggle, tears families apart and destroys the human spirit.
Merenda’s protagonist character was inspired by a high school friend who immigrated to upstate New York from Ukraine. According to Merenda, his friend’s family had to change their name from Rypchensky to Wapen due to political consequences that resulted from the Red Scare.
Several years later, Merenda was able to add another dimension to his novel when he and his wife befriended couples from Russia and Ukraine in their ballroom dancing class. Merenda saw that immigrants who lived under Soviet rule were afraid to discuss why they left their home country. Merenda said, “They were uncomfortable discussing conditions with me because fear practically silenced them. I asked them if they defected, but they could not respond with conviction.”
Merenda hopes his novel shows not only the ugly side of a police state, but also helps readers understand that a love for freedom can overcome intense nationalism and the status quo. Merenda’s work strives to show readers that the political turmoil it depicts is a dangerous possibility in the United States if its democratic elections continue to be undermined.
“The Soviet Network” is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Apple iBooks, Kobo, and eBooks2go.com.