A Novel by Peter Lazare and Sarah Lazare
It’s 2002–the height of the War on Terror panic–and Sam, a life-long, left-wing radical, has had enough. He finally decides to stow his black ski mask and move to the uneventful mid-sized city of Springfield, Illinois to settle down and sell out as a gas utility regulator. His plans to coast and collect a check, however, are complicated when the pipe of a major gas provider he’s tasked with overseeing explodes, killing a school janitor and sending an overfunded security apparatus into full-on John Milius mode–looking for terrorists who aren’t there and using “Homeland” authority to mask their self-dealing.
Soon, Sam discovers the real problem isn’t outside threats, but a culture of casual negligence and an opaque system of “charity” and “public-private partnership” that diverts money away from public safety and into the pockets of government and corporate higher-ups. With the help of a sarcastic local reporter, a kind but jaded office chum, and a mix of other outcasts, Sam realizes that “going with the flow” may come at too high a cost.
Testimony isn’t about One Great Man taking on the system, but about one okay, flawed person working with a rag-tag team of other okay, flawed people to combat a system of cynicism and greed much bigger than them. Testimony is a sardonic political noir about corporate regulatory capture, a mid-size city finding meaning in security theater, and reluctant rediscovery of lost idealism.
Co-author Peter Lazare passed away in November 2018 with a first draft of a novel. His daughter, Sarah Lazare, spent two years following his death adding to and editing the manuscript, viewing it as a writing collaboration. Peter was an expert analyst at the Illinois Commerce Commission in Springfield, Illinois for two decades, co-owner of the Grab-a-Java coffee shop and, during his earlier years, protested the Vietnam War, organized for the labor movement, and worked as a socialist organizer in a Chicago garment factory. Sarah is a staff reporter and web editor for In These Times.
What They Are Saying:
“The world needs more books exactly like this, ones that both teach about how structural injustice works and how to organize to change it—wrapped inside a gripping yarn that would make Agatha Christie or Carl Hiaasen envious. I loved it!”
—Rick Perlstein, bestselling author of Before the Storm, Nixonland, The Invisible Bridge, and Reaganland
“Seriously fun but serious in purpose, Testimony is both a conspiracy page turner and a thoughtful examination of the unchecked power of corporate and national security interests.”
—Bill Fletcher Jr., author of The Man Who Fell From the Sky, a political murder mystery
“A thriller about regulatory capture and the exploitation of 9/11 fears shouldn’t have such a big heart. And it absolutely has no right to be as funny as what the Lazares have produced.”
—Spencer Ackerman, journalist and author of Reign of Terror: How The 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump
“A gripping thriller that reads like a socialist John Grisham. Sam is a guy many of us have met— an aging lefty who’s dedicated so much of his life to the cause he’s nearly lost himself. But as soon as he’s about to settle for a corporate job, the good fight finds him and he’s not backing down. A delightful page-turner written by a father-daughter tag team, the Lazares have you from start to finish.”
—Francesca Fiorentini, journalist and comedian