Among the fetching lures offered by Sam Allis's historical novel A Hero of Two Worlds is a cover blurb by none other than this country's national musical treasure, James Taylor. Taylor complained that "Sam Allis’s first work of historical fiction (my favorite genre) has robbed me of my sleep for a week."
Set in Italy in the mid-19th century when the country was fighting for its nationhood amid overwhelming calls for an overthrow of the old order of monarchies, dukedoms and papal power, Allis's career, personal history (he lived in Switzerland when young) and affinity for Italy foretold the subject and place of the novel. Rome at the time held a thriving community of American expatriates, artists and what we now refer to as freedom fighters. Told from the perspective of a young American sculptor caught up in the turbulence of 1860s Italy, the hero of that world becomes the hero of two worlds years later when he returns to the United States to take up his role in this country's Civil War and helps set the course for the country we live in now.
A forty-year veteran of the Fourth Estate, Allis was the Time bureau chief in Rome and reported as well from Turkey, Greece and the Middle East. Before that, he covered Congress for the magazine's Washington bureau, and for a while was a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. A foreign editor for the Boston Globe, he also was part of the seven-member Globe team that in 2009 produced Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy, edited by the Globe's Washington bureau chief at the time, Peter Canellos.
Note to readers: Peter Canellos, when editorial-page editor at the Globe, was instrumental in ensuring coverage of the ill-conceived efforts by the City of Boston ten years ago to try and close up to a third of BPL branches. The Globe's reporting about this issue, and the resistance to it by Bostonians, made sure that nothing of the sort happened.