“Wow, I just finished reading ‘Tail of The Dragon’ and I physically feel like I just got off a roller coaster without the benefit of a safety harness.
If you believe that progressive policies pushed by collectivist politicians can rob a vibrant free and independent country of its spirit, how excited you will be to see one man, desperate for freedom – powerful enough and devoid of chains, who refuses to capitulate, take on a government without a soul and bring it to its knees!
The spirit of Ayn Rand is still alive and is being lived and written about by Rich Hoffman…Galt/Stephens 2016!
I was impressed how this skillful author can tell this story that involves sleazy politics without using profanity.
Hoffman got it right.”
–George Lang West Chester Twp Trustee
Out of all the reviews for my new novel Tail of the Dragon, this is one of them that mean the most. When I started writing this novel I had not yet read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, which is certainly the case back in 2004 when I wrote The Symposium of Justice. I have heard similar comparisons with the John Galt character from Atlas Shrugged with my Fletcher Finnegan character in The Symposium as shown in the Galt/Stevens 2016 reference. I read Atlas Shrugged prior to the first movie coming out in spring of 2011 while preparing for a Glendale Tea Party Rally with Doc Thompson. Between Doc and me we put forth a bit of effort on 700 WLW to convince AMC Theaters in Newport to book that film so people could see it, and during the process I felt I should at least read the book of the movie I was advocating.
My draft for Tail of the Dragon had already been turned in to American Publishing and they were considering a contract. I didn’t get the offer for publication from them until the end of May in 2011 so while I was in that in-between zone, I was reading Atlas, and of course found I understood the character of John Galt all too well. Like Ayn Rand I have an idea of what a man ought to be, and my characters reflect that belief. This review given by Lang is not the first time parallels have been drawn between my work and Rand’s that stand out in the mind of my readers.
Most notably in The Symposium of Justice the primary protagonist worked as a grill cook at the restaurant Republics which is a fast foot joint popular in the town of Fort Seven-Mile. In Atlas Shrugged I had a de ja vu moment when Ayn Rand placed Dr. Hugh Akston, who was the college professor of Francisco d’ Anconia, John Galt, and Ragnar Danneskjold, into a similar roll hiding out in the open from the looters of society as a cook at a Colorado diner. The theme in Atlas Shrugged was nearly precisely one that I was trying to capture in The Symposium of Justice and I had found that path by taking the path least trotted upon in the forest where the trees were thickest. These characters found that by working out in the open but in professions that society deemed worthless, they could operate aggressively at reforming the world and the bad guys would not see it, because their minds had become “overly specialized.” In that manner I found that without knowing it, I was very interested in the same types of themes as Ayn Rand and my novels were about those topics.
In Tail of the Dragon even though Rick Stevens is a person who wanted to be a race car driver, he had arrived at a stage in his life relatively socially unmolested, giving him a clear idea of what he wanted from the world, and what was in the way of him getting it. As a man he does not have insecurities about himself, his upbringing, whether or not his wife loves him, whether or not he raised his child correctly, whether or not he could make more money than his neighbors because his focus is on his passion, which I believe should be the focus for all human beings. Rick Stevens is the kind of character who does not believe in yielding to others, he does not believe in compromising himself to politics or social fashion. I had been thinking after I read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead that he was the closest kind of character in literature to emerge since John Galt in 1957 and Howard Roark in 1943 – which is my personal favorite now that I have finally gotten around to reading them. Rick Stevens is certainly cut from the same cloth, but at the time I had no way of knowing. What I did know was I wanted to write about a character as I thought men and women should aspire to be, not what they might otherwise compromise themselves into living in reality. The point of an epic story is not to capture reality as it is, but as it should be so that like a sign post on a desolate highway, the wondering reader might find their way to a life they only suspected was possible.
I know George Lang as my business sometimes bumps into his business, and out of all the politicians that I know personally, he is close to my own age and has seen the very ugly side of politics in a unique way. So I asked him to read an advance copy of Tail of the Dragon and confirm that the vile politics in the book were not so over-the-top that it was unbelievable. In my novel, the story is based on real politics so I wanted to paint the picture with the correct colors, and George had some unique insight to that seedy world and could tell me if I was on the right course.
When George finished the book and sent me the above review, I was a bit taken by it, because over the last year and a half I had become an Ayn Rand fan since she was trying to do in the 1930’s and 1940’s what I am trying to do in the first decade of a new century, and that is elevate the perception of what a man is, define why the world needs them to think this way, and what it takes to get there. The fact that George drew parallels to one of the greatest figures in literary history with Rick Stevens is the ultimate compliment.
Like John Galt and Howard Roark from The Fountainhead, Rick Stevens is an uncompromising man in a world that expects compromises at every turn. Stevens is a man that pays no political system honorable worship. He does not stand in salute to any legal judge. He treats the U.S. President like a bell boy in an expensive hotel—a servant, nothing more or less. Stevens is clearly his own man and the conflict of the story is how he navigates through an intricate story of politics and social engineering while trying to maintain his value system.
I am glad that George Lang noticed what I was trying to do. I am sad that there have not been more attempts in literature from the years of Ayn Rand to the beginning of my novels to explore the same type of characters, because I think the world desires them. The world needs them. I discovered them in my own way through years of trying to make sense of humanity and determine how to fix it. Having the ability to fix problems led me to develop my own modern characters that are examples of man the way they should strive to live. When I fix a car I do not change the tires if I discover it will not start. And in life, we don’t worry about education funding, racism, or illegal immigration when the national debt is about to topple over 16 trillion dollars upon this writing. The problem is something besides all those side issues, and must be dealt with before we tackle the kinds of problems tires may give us. All those other things may be concerns, but they are not the keys to solving the key problems before us. Rick Stevens in Tail of the Dragon like John Galt in Atlas Shrugged was meant to be a mirror that the reader can look into and discover something about themselves so they can utilize their part in fixing big international issues. Those things do not get fixed from the far away land of Washington, or the U.N. of Europe, they are fixed in the daily lives of mankind, and a yearning to be more than what is offered on the precipice of our own destruction.
It means a lot to me to have my name included with Ayn Rand by a reviewer who has been in the political trenches up close and personal. The only sadness I feel is that it took more than 60 years to provide literature with another type of character that can show what a man should be in a world that is much like our own. In Tail of the Dragon, it is a heck of a lot of fun reading about Rick doing what nobody in their socially conditioned minds would dare do–take on the entire legal system with the intention of bringing it down to its very knees—by the simple efforts of refusing compromise and yielding to forces that believe they are greater than the effort of an individual.
Being a trustee of West Chester, Ohio is no small task. Even though I disagree often with much of what the trustees do, George Lang has been instrumental in helping to make West Chester fall in at #97 in America’s top 100 places to live. That is no small feat. In the world of local politics, it is in the quest for the exceptional that helps make rankings like that possible, so his opinion of Tail of the Dragon carries great weight with me.