A Desperate Man

Claes G. Ryn


A Riveting Thriller, A Haunting Picture of America

Could two people be more enviable than Richard and Helen Bittberg? They love each other, have two healthy, intelligent children, and are financially comfortable. Their home is in a desirable Washington, D.C., neighborhood. The culturally rich, cosmopolitan atmosphere of the capital of the most powerful nation in the world forms part of their privileged existence.

But to Richard it seems that perverse, irresponsible forces are destroying the country he loves. He feels compelled to resist. But how? Deeply troubled by his powerlessness, he seizes a daunting opportunity that he could never have foreseen. His life changes drastically. He is drawn into tension-filled, sometimes harrowing circumstances. They tax his moral conscience, courage, and endurance to the utmost. Helen worries about his increasingly fraught and stressed condition and tries to make him change his ways, but she does not know their real cause. Then, when she least expects it, she finds herself in a nightmare of her own. She has to muster all her willpower and wile. Helen and Richard must independently handle daunting ordeals, one involving secret, nerve-wracking political machinations, one involving an agonizing police investigation. The milieus of the novel are Washington, D.C., Paris and environs, and Charleston, South Carolina.

This is a political and psychological thriller that sneaks up on the reader and then only tightens its grip. Telling the story of the existential crises that Richard and Helen must face, the novel becomes a disquieting and thought-provoking commentary on the state of America and the Western world.

Claes G. Ryn is professor of politics and former chairman of his department at the Catholic University of America. He has taught also at the University of Virginia and Georgetown University. He is chairman of the National Humanities Institute, editor of Humanitas, and president of the Academy of Philosophy and Letters. He is widely published on both sides of the Atlantic and in China. In 2000 he gave the Distinguished Foreign Scholar Lectures at Beijing University. His many books include The New Jacobinism, America the Virtuous, A Common Human Ground, Will, Imagination and Reason, and Democracy and the Ethical Life.