By Fred Shapiro

Read the papers and watch the media almost every day and see the acts of terrorism that are occurring both internationally and here in the United States. The Center for Lifelong Learning will sponsor a program by Norman Brewer , relative to his novel  “ A Tale of Homegrown Terrorism” in Clubhouse 1 at 2:00 PM Monday June 4th.The  novel is about two men determined to bring down the U.S. government. While the program is free, residents should register with the E&R office.

Prominently featured in the novel is an elderly couple, he with early Alzheimer’s, who inadvertently find themselves standing in the way of the terrorists and their next attack. Many domestic attacks after 9/11 have been carried out by poorly trained societal misfits. By contrast, Stickman and Maple, the main terrorists in Berman’s book, are well trained and have jobs that allow them to strike and then blend in like your next-door neighbor.

Berman is 74 and with his wife, Judy, have lived in Bethesda forty years. They have had relatives and friends who suffered from dementia. Some of their experiences are woven into and blending in, giving the book a human quality and flashes of humor that many “thrillers” lack

After a career in journalism, Berman joined the Transportation Security Administration in the Department of Homeland Security. He was TSA’s Director of Employee Communications, which gave him broad exposure to terrorism issues and tactics.  In addition, he has a long family connection in Carthage, site of the novel, although he only lived there for only a few months in the 1960s.

After a couple of years of retirement, Brewer said he found himself looking for something to do, something in line with his writing background and experience.
“At some point after one of the big attacks, I forget which one it was, one of those incidents of domestic terrorism, it struck me that so many of the people who carried out these attacks really aren’t very well prepared,” Brewer said. “They’re often social misfits, they don’t think about their escape plans. So conversely, I asked what would happen if you had a couple of relatively smart terrorists who were well trained and did not want to go down the road of martyrdom and who wanted to not only wreak destruction but wanted to live to carry out more destruction.“

Brewer said he started writing in 2015. He didn’t have a real outline “I had a beginning, a rough middle and a rougher ending, and I would write, trying to connect those dots,” Brewer said. “Then when I encountered a problem with where is this story is going, I would just wait it out until something clicked, whether it be in the middle of the night or over coffee or whatever. Then I’d write and maybe I’d have a few ideas of other points or dots to drop in and I’d fill out the outline that way. It just wrote itself over a period of time.”

Attend the program for an interesting approach to a problem we see in the news on a daily basis.