Engineer and nuclear sub veteran Lorenzo Giangrande's debut novel Debt of Conscience is a passionate revelatory glimpse into secrets of
U.S. sociopolitical guilt and economic vulnerability to terrorism. In a
narrative spanning from the American Southwest and northern Great Lakes
to the breeding grounds of hatred in the Mideast and the halls of power in
Washington, D.C., Giangrande weaves together disparate storylines -- one
of Native American nations determined to see their sovereignty recognized and
crimes against them redressed by the highest law of the land, the other of an
Iraqi madman plotting to destroy vital lines of commerce in an act so bold and
unexpected that none can be prepared.
In 1813, an alliance of Native American nations led by the great Shawnee warrior and prophet Tecumseh made a stand against
the military might of a young U.S. government that had broken so many promises
to native peoples, usurping their lands and attempting to exterminate those who
would live in peace with the white newcomers. On the eve of the battle, Tecumseh
saw his own death and the scattering and diminution of the native nations in a
vision. But he also prophesied that two warriors would arise in eight
generations from the land of red stone and hot sand who would unite their people
and return them to their rightful place as a sovereign nation.
More than a century and a half later, the birth of twin boys descended from
the Shawnee in New Mexico on a Pueblo reservation heralds the imminent
fulfillment of Tecumseh's prophecy. Educated in history and law and schooled in
Native American traditions and in the legacy of crimes against their people by
their tribal elder foster father, the brothers lead the charge to galvanize the
sundry native nations into a coalition that will ultimately take on the Supreme
Court in a bid to see the wrongs against Native Americans since before the
inception of the United States redressed. But their rightful challenge weakens
the U.S. in international eyes, and the popular sitting President, the man
covertly responsible for Saddam Hussein's assassination, finds himself under
pressure to see this problem resolved, and quickly.
But an insidious Iraqi terrorist driven to cripple the hated U.S. threatens
American power and standing from a vastly different direction. He has laid out a
plan to take out the vital St. Lawrence Seaway commercial shipping lane by
draining Lake Erie, and he will stop at nothing to see his scheme come to
Although occasionally lamed by stilted dialogue and weak characterization,
Debt of Conscience is an impassioned disclosure of federal crimes that have yet
to be righted, and of assailable targets the current war on terror has not taken
into account. Author Giangrande displays an almost Clancy-esque devotion to
detail in his descriptions of the Great Lakes and the ships that travel them, as
well as to little known facts about the Supreme Court, technologies employed by
the military and the story's terrorists, and myriad other aspects of his tale.
In spite of this novel's weakenesses, make no mistake -- the real-life truths
behind its story are important ones that every U.S. citizen should understand.