Journey to Colonus

A Novel of Race, Espionage and Redemption

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
312 Pages
Reviewed on 09/12/2016
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Author Biography

Franklin Debrot was born in Willemstadt, Curacao, Netherlands West Indies, in 1941. His family emigrated to the United States two years later, settling in New York City. Mr Debrot grew up in Brooklyn where his father, a dentist, was active in the West Indian community.
In the early and mid 1960's he studied at Fairfield University in Connecticut and later at the University of Toronto, Canada. He first started teaching philosophy in 1966 at Shaw University, a traditional African-American institution in North Carolina. Since 1978 he has been teaching at James Madison University.
He was a contributing editor of The Southern Partisan from 1987 to 1992, and published stories and essays there, and in The Hillsdale Review, New Oxford Review, Perspective, and other journals over the years. One of his articles appeared in the anthology, Continuity in Crisis: The University at Bay.
Soon he will be publishing Love of Wisdom: The Self-Examined Life, and is presently at work on two other novels: The Love Experts and Grandpa’s Gift.
He has two grown children and lives with his wife in Virginia.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

Journey to Colonus, a stupendous novel by Franklin Debrot, is accessible to readers on every level: plotting, character development and revelation, dialogue that is authentic in every way, an empathy for racial and personality differentiation that leaves one wondering about the author’s own, and prose so exquisite it makes another author weep. Not to mention, a mesmerizing storyline.

Thomas Doswell is an enigmatic black professor at a southern college, who has an oddly-earned reputation as an Uncle Tom. Two student-professors come directly under his wing – a young black activist and a young white scholar – creating a strong thematic tension that ultimately defines the foundation for a profoundly intriguing plot regarding the background of Mr. Doswell, ultimately revealing the historical reason behind his strangely ironic obscurity – a history based on America’s early leftist movements and revolts.

In Franklin Debrot’s masterful, historically-loaded book, Journey to Colonus, there is another element that might be overlooked by the less methodical reader; by the one who is so caught up in the story that he fails to savor the innate beauty of this writing. I am talking about a uniquely individual style so beyond the norm in today’s books that one might mistake it as coming from an earlier classic time. Debrot is so conscientious about providing descriptive context and atmosphere that the grateful reader is forced to inhabit this compelling story as a sensory reality, and the author is so creative and intelligent in his presentation that one remains constantly amazed, intrigued, and delighted by the evocative subtlety of his twists in plot. Journey to Colonus is a book to thoroughly savor. Franklin Debrot is an author to envy and admire ... and enjoy immensely.

Divine Zape

Journey to Colonus by Franklin Debrot is aptly described by its subtitle as a novel of race, espionage and redemption. The story starts by situating readers in the historical setting, a setting that will be beautifully explored throughout the story, giving it depth and making it more real to readers. It begins at a time when America had been six years in Vietnam and it was the same year the first man walked on the moon. It is a tale of encounters. While America experiences riots and social unrest, two young men get the attention of a teacher, Doswell, and their lives won’t be the same again as they come into contact with his mysterious past and gain insights into a history that affects their lives in powerful ways.

Journey to Colonus is well-written and, from every indication, the author did a lot of research – which is put to great use – and offers historical references. I love the engaging and colorful prose and the confidence that flows through the writing. The reader doesn’t feel like the author is trying to force dialogue in his work, and where there is dialogue, it is well-written and flows naturally, pushing the plot forward. The characters are monumental and reminiscent of a memorable historical period. Such characters are hard to leave behind. The plot moves fast and it has lots of surprises for readers. Franklin Debrot has created a classic historical novel with characters that will stay with readers in the same way as James Patterson’s Alex Cross.