THE SERPENT PAPERS by Jeff Schnader:
The Vietnam War is still the defining event of its generation. It created a rift between those who fought and those who protested—a rift which this novel aims to heal with rapprochement.
Cover Photo credits for The Serpent Papers: Columbia Daily Spectator/John Taylor Lewis & Andrew Farber
FROM THE FORMER PUBLISHER & PRESIDENT OF DUTTON BOOKS, WHO EDITED THE NOVELS OF ERNEST HEMINGWAY, JAMES BALDWIN & ROBERT LUDLUM:
FROM THOMAS FERGUSON, Former U. S. Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (for Presidents Bush & Obama):
“Literary circles will soon know the name Jeff Schnader, as his debut novel, The Serpent Papers, an intriguing, engrossing mosaic tale of relationships forged in a contentious and conflicted era, will certainly become a bestseller. This emerging master storyteller will have already made a significant and noteworthy contribution to historical fiction. A captivating read cover to cover, this book commands attention... It is a triumph!”
—Rob Stoller, Exec. Producer, Art In Motion
“I could not put The Serpent Papers down. I felt an urgent need to read because I wanted to see where the story took J-Bee. I was vicariously identifying with his existential search for the soul, for the epiphany, for the reason for being. It brought me back to my younger self.
I thought about this book for a month. The Serpent Papers finds the human soul. It is Schnader’s gift.”
—Sandra Fluck, Founder & Publisher, bookscover2cover & THE WRITE LAUNCH literary journal
“The Serpent Papers will be enjoyed by readers who care about America. Jeff Schnader is a story teller and has created a story and a world that are engaging.
It’s a novel that is hard to put down.”
—Richard Nochimson, Prof Emeritus of English, Yeshiva U.
“So what is conscience? How can we live with it, be true to it, examine it every moment of every day? The Serpent Papers addresses these questions. Every page in this book is right in the intellectual wheelhouse. The war in Vietnam confronted all of us in our generation; it was like no other. We had to be true to our consciences, and that’s what this book is about. The pressure for us to define our allegiances was real and constantly present; moral lines were drawn. Each of us had to decide whether to fight this war or to resist the horror of it.
“The vivid and real characters in this brilliant, masterful book bring us right back to the days of that era when each of us had to take a stand. They remind us how our decisions—whether to follow our consciences or to ignore them—might make us murderers or Congressional Medal recipients.
“I loved this book. An important book, it is the best I’ve read in the past ten years.”
—Michael D. Smar, M.D., Bronze Star Recipient
Combat Medic, US Army, 1st Infantry, Vietnam, 1968-69
COMMENT OF COLUMBIA UNIV ALUMNA:
“Wow! As a Columbia alum, I have always been fascinated by its history. Through an incredibly sophisticated and brilliantly talented use of the written word from the opening paragraph to the last page, The Serpent Papers read with such forward moving force that I did not want to get off the ride. It was gripping, riveting—in one word: timeless. It blew me away. I absolutely loved it. Bravo!”
–Victoria Fedrigotti, Columbia University alumna and Published Curator, Art Critic & Art Historian
“Just finished the book and I’m stunned by its intensity. Wow! The writing is so vivid and beautiful. Every sentence painted a picture. I feel like I sleepwalked through the early 1970s, but the book allowed me to experience it with the depth that my emotional and cognitive immaturity stifled all those years ago. J-Bee’s internal struggle for identity and meaning was so powerful... You brought him to life and opened a window into a world that rings so true. Thank you for letting me in.”
—Janet Maurer, PhD
“If you want to know what it was like in the early ‘70’s in America’s colleges as the Viet Nam War dragged on and on, then this is your ticket to the tie-dyed, psychedelic, bell-bottomed world of Columbia University at the peak of the Anti-Establishment, Anti-Vietnam War, Make-Love-Not-War Woodstock Era of America’s youth. This book takes you right back to those days of ‘Hell No, We Won’t Go’, when Students for a Democratic Society and the notorious Weathermen held sway across campuses from coast to coast.
“I was amazed that I identified so much with the main character, J-Bee. As I read, I was rooting for the students to win their fight. J-Bee is thrust into the maelstrom of political turmoil complicated by his fiery first love and strained relationships with his parents, childhood friends, anti-war friends and the Mysterious Serpent, a coffee house sage who speaks pearls of Wisdom and Truth to those who will hear.
“A rollicking ride of conflict through the trials and tribulations of a young American torn between his family, who want him to serve the nation honorably, and those opposed to serving, all of whom are competing for his very soul.”
-Recipient of 3 Purple Hearts & 2 Bronze Stars, Army Commendation Medal with "V" Device with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Palm Award, Meritorious Service Medal
-US Army, 1st Infantry & Americal Divisions; Vietnam, 1966-67, 68-69, 70-71 (served 1000 days)
-Playwright of the drama: Bonne Annee
“Unexpectedly, I don’t simply like The Serpent Papers, I am enthralled! The writing is special, authentic in voice and compelling. I read more slowly so as not to miss a phrase, a thought. Fascinating and leaves me wanting more. It will stand the test of time and genuinely reflect that era from the inside out. I have become a besotted fan, very unlike me. The book brings me back to a time in my life of excitement, cosmic change and my own questioning of right and wrong.
“I loved the book, J Bee, the Columbia life and the very internal questions that can never be fully answered. The writing is insightful, yet somehow conversational and not at all obtuse, despite the difficult subject matter. This is a winner. I can see it on the big screen. The pleasure was all mine.”
—Dr. Vivien Brown MDCM, CCFP, FCFP, NCMP, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, VP North America, Medical Women’s International Association
“You have created wonderful & interesting characters. J-Bee’s evolution is convincing and moving. You have blended the political, the historical, the academic & the emotions & feelings of the times. This is a heady mix.”
—Editor & Former Book Publisher
“Wow! Finished The Serpent Papers in 2 days. I spent the summers of 1969 and 70 in New York, and the book brought me back to those extraordinary and tumultuous times. I sat with my two best American friends as they anxiously watched the Viet Nam lottery on tv discussing options.
“The book really captured the overriding themes and flavor of those days, including but not limited to: LSD, pot, make love not war, basement cafés, music and most impactful the blurred fine line between law and order and peaceful protest. I love the way the book connected all the characters in a seamless way.”
—Michael, Munzar, MD, CM, Chairman of the Board, HEXO Corporation
“In this engaging bildungsroman by Jeff Schnader, we become deeply immersed in the time of American life and culture during the war years 1971-1972, and in a place, Columbia University in the City of New York. We learn of friendship, growth, and love, as The Serpent reveals the path toward living a good life.”
—James W. Oberly, Editor of *Budapest Blackout: The Wartime Diaries of Dr. Mária Mádi* (forthcoming, 2022), Professor Emeritus of History, University of Wisconsin
TESTIMONIAL OF KENT STATE UNIV ALUMNUS:
“I had the privilege of reading this book. I often reflect on the events that shaped our experiences & lives. I was not expecting to be personally drawn into the novel, but how could I have known that The Serpent Papers was going to stimulate my memories and emotions of being a student at Kent State University in 1971-1974? This book opened labyrinths that have been locked in my memories for fifty years.
“I have spent the past two weeks recalling the discussion and the kinetic atmosphere propagated by students, faculty, police, school administration and elected officials. I have wanted to reexamine and document this experience for my children and grandchildren for quite some time. Fabulous stuff—thanks, Jeff Schnader, for making it happen!”
—Steven Magida, 1974 Kent State University graduate
“I certainly agree with Richard Marek that the writing is better than just about anything that comes in over the transom.”
—Editor, Book Editors Alliance
DECORATED VIETNAM VETERAN TESTIMONIAL:
“As a two-time recipient of the Bronze Star and Vietnam War combat veteran, I would be placed in the role of the character Gilly in The Serpent Papers. Drafted out of college, my choices were made for me, and my life was thrust into the darkness of war. [Now I’m like] a snake [who] cannot crawl back into his skin.
“The characters in The Serpent Papers have expanded my concepts, which have been clouded by perspective. I now understand that young men at home were actually trudging through the trenches of political mud for my sake. Very good read!”
—Arthur T Swanner, Recipient of 2 Bronze Stars
-US Army, 2nd & 94th Artillery
-Two tours in combat, Vietnam War
“Jeff Schnader writes a tale that encapsulates a very difficult time in US history. He exposes generational differences and conflicted emotions due to the Vietnam War. The character of J-Bee knits together a great read that will force you to reflect not only on that time but your own experiences.”
—Professor Ian MacDonald, MD, CM, Chair, Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, University of Alberta
“The characters are very strong. The major idea of this novel is intriguing. The tensions between J-Bee’s background, his personal code, the thrill of campus life, and his relationships drive the story in a unique direction. The story is well written, exciting and full of insight; allusions and imagery enhance the experience. It is a book that makes me think; I imagine writing essays on it. The relevance to today's culture is obvious.”
—Aaron Kaiserman, PhD, Faculty, English Literature Department, University of Ottawa
“Praise for The Serpent Papers: This Vietnam-era novel vividly captures the pivotal time when young American men's futures hung in the balance. An unforgettable, paradigm-shifting perspective on the era!”
—Margaret Winslow, PhD, Professor Emerita, City University of New York, and author of the books: Over My Head, The Cusp of Dreadfulness, and Smart Ass.
Jeff Schnader was at Columbia University in 1972 where he participated in sit-ins, marches and protests against the Vietnam War. He took part in demonstrations in front of Hamilton Hall where students were beaten by N.Y. Tactical Police in battle regalia. He graduated with a BA in physics.
His short story, “The Champion,” won first prize in the 2020 Annual Quills Contest, and he was a short-listed finalist in the 2021 Blue Moon Novel Competition for his novel, The Serpent Papers (see Author's Guild announcement: https://www.authorsguild.org/member-awards/jeff-schnader-wins-quills-creative-writing-contest/). Chapters of The Serpent Papers and, more recently, his short story, The Oma, have been published in THE WRITE LAUNCH (see: https://thewritelaunch.com/author/j-schnader/)
After graduating from Columbia, he received his medical degree (MD, CM) from McGill University with further work at Johns Hopkins. He recently retired as full Professor of Medicine after authoring over 50 scientific publications and chairing & speaking at over 130 national medical conferences. He was a frequent guest on NPR's “Sound Health” and has been awarded for teaching and for editing a medical journal. He worked full-time in the Department of Veteran’s Affairs for 22 years, serving American war veterans, including those of The Vietnam War.