IRON MOUNTAIN - Jeff Foltz, who wrote the award-winning novel "Birkebeiner: A Story of Motherhood and War," has penned another captivating piece of historical fiction, "Two Men, Ten Suns." (www.maineauthorspublishing.com/www.jefffotzauthor.com, 327 pages)
Foltz will appear Saturday at Book World in Iron Mountain's Midtown Mall. He will conduct a reading along with question-and-answer session from noon to 1 p.m., followed by a book signing for "Two Men, Ten Suns" and "Birkebeiner" until 3 p.m.
Told through the eyes of two men, an American physicist and a Japanese officer, the story reveals each nation's desperate race to develop the ultimate weapon - the atomic bomb.
For the American physicist, Dr. Chet Warren, the matter is personal - his brother was stationed on the USS Arizona on that fateful morning in December when the attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into war with Japan and Germany.
At first his efforts are motivated by rage and a desire for revenge. But as he realizes the immense power of this weapon, his hatred wanes and he is troubled by the enormous devastating potential of the bomb he is working to create.
The explosive weapon, with the brightness of "ten suns" as the title suggests, unleashes a force of such lethality that it would prompt Robert Oppenheimer to utter his famous words from the Bhagavad Gita, "I have become death."
But much like the chain reaction in a nuclear explosion which cannot be stopped once started, things spiral to their catastrophic end. The reader cannot help but feel an eerie sense of foreboding as he learns that the Japanese Admiral Shiqeru Yamakota and his lovely wife, Kumiko, make their home in the doomed city - Nagasaki.
The American quest to develop the bomb, the Manhattan Project, is historically accurate. The author speculates that the Japanese may have pursued a similar weapon what they called the Genzai Bakudan, and thus, there was a true arms race between America and Japan.
Foltz is superb in telling an exciting tale of the two foes, who, although they are locked in mortal combat in pursuit of the atomic bomb, are truly humane and decent individuals, though they are caught up in a desperate arms race in the Second World War.