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America after the horrors


If America emerges still standing and still smiling after the combined and related horrors of Donald Trump and the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be thanks to Americans like Ben Fox.

I've never met Ben, though he lives not all that far away, in northern Portugal. He first entered my life way back in February of this year, when he tracked me down via my old web site and explained that he was creating a new book web site called Shepherd, where authors could plug one of their own books for the price of recommending five other books by five other authors. Would I like to contribute? You bet, said I, and shamelessly plugged Ten Rogues while recommending five other Australian histories.

Ben and I kept up a steady if desultory correspondence, until he wrote to me again at the beginning of June to ask if I would like a second Shepherd page. Yep, said I. This time I plugged A Good Place To Hide along with five other World War 2 histories. You can read what I wrote by clicking on this link. If you would like to read which Australian histories I went for, you can do the same by clicking here.

So how will Ben and his ilk rescue America from the horrors of Trump and Covid-19? Answer: by being clever, inventive and hard-working, that's how. Shepherd is already a success. Last month the site had 20,000 unique visitors, who read some 37,000 pages, and bought some US$12,000 worth of books. Not bad for the third month of the site's existence. If anyone reading this has experience with launching commercial web sites, they'll know that these figures are simply astonishing. Ben says he won't relax until he's selling US$10,000 worth of books a day.

If ever I've despaired for the United States over these last five or six terrible years, I've always consoled myself with the knowledge that I have American friends who are liberal, thoughtful, cosmopolitan and widely travelled. I'm now adding Ben Fox's name to that list of good guys.

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