In The Descent (1999), Long introduced us to hell: not the Biblical hell, but the actual place. Hell, it turns out, is an underground world where a nasty race of humanoids called hadals lived for millennia,
occasionally coming to the surface and wreaking havoc. In The Descent, the hadals were wiped out, or so
we thought. Now, 10 years later, humans have colonized the Subterrain, but they’re about to find out that
some hadals have survived and that you can’t really kill Satan.
At least as exciting as its predecessor, this flashy, fast-paced sequel features a motley crew of characters — including one of the human survivors of the last novel, Ali Von Schade, who ventures deep into hell to rescue children who were abducted from the surface. In addition to Ali, the characters include a NASA researcher who spent two years exploring hell and who now has massive physical deformities, including a pair of horns; the mother of one of the missing children, whose journey into the Subterrain takes an unexpected toll on her; a filmmaker who disappeared into hell several years ago and who seems to have survived its perils; and a Navy SEAL sniper.
Long has a knack for telling stories with inherently over-the-top premises, but he tells them so well and with such passion that we are brought totally under his spell. His characters are real and complex; his dialogue sharp;and his narrative stylish and frightening. This is one case where readers should be enthusiastically
encouraged to go to hell.
— David Pitt
From Entertainment Weekly
reviewed by Gilbert Cruz February 3, 2006
“Jeff Long delivers a palpable sense of the Zen-like concentration and hand-straining physicality needed to conquer a big hunk of rock. A bravura, chapter-long description of a forest fire and the truly shocking ending help to elevate The Wall far above an increasingly high pile of pedestrian thrillers.” Grade: B+
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. “A widowed geologist makes one final, perilous attempt to scale Yosemite's El Cap and winds up running for his life in Long's atmospheric, aggressive thriller (after The Reckoning)…. Long casts the dramatic natural setting as a major player in the story and imparts fascinating facts about the art of rock-climbing….The surprise ending is a true shocker in this hurtling, gripping read.”
From The Denver Post
“Scaling the rock of youth: Men climb against time in a Yosemite thriller”
by Tom Walker January 8, 2006
To what extremes will men go to fend off guilt and remorse and at the same time push their aging bodies beyond their physical and psychological limits to recapture a long-lost youth?
Boulder author Jeff Long asks those questions in his new novel, "The Wall," and in giving up the answers, Long has produced a tense and taut thriller that keeps the reader enthralled right up to its harrowing and surprising denouement.
You always can count on Long to dig a little deeper into the human psyche and make you think a little more about the almost gravitational pull of human motivation than most thriller writers, and "The Wall" could be his most emotionally intricate work to date.
Something of a Renaissance man, Long has led anything but a sheltered life. He has worked as a stonemason, a journalist and a screenwriter. He's a veteran climber who has gone to Mount Everest in the Himalayas and has served three months in jail, falsely accused of smuggling in Nepal. In the mid-'90s, Long served as an election observer in Bosnia. In addition to seven novels, Long also has written two nonfiction works, including "Duel of Eagles," a revisionist history of the battle at the Alamo.
But climbing is his passion and like "The Ascent," his first novel, "The Wall" centers on those adrenaline junkies who attach themselves to rock walls attempting to attain a summit just because it's there.
"The Wall" is the story of two men, Hugh Glass and Lewis Cole, who have known each other for most of their lives. They have come together to climb Yosemite's El Capitan, the rock where several decades ago they made names for themselves in the climbing world by pioneering a new route from its base to its summit.
Of course, the two men are carrying more baggage than pitons, jumars and ropes. Both men met their wives at El Capitan in the 1970s, but Hugh's wife, Annie, has disappeared in the Saudi desert while suffering from Alzheimer's disease and Rachel, Lewis' wife and the mother of their two daughters, is thinking of dissolving their marriage now that the kids are grown. Both men are looking for a new lease on life and to regain the innocence they had when they first climbed El Capitan.
Things get off to a disturbing start when Hugh stumbles upon the body of a fallen climber in the woods at the base of El Capitan on the day before the climb is to begin. As it turns out, the climber is one of three women attempting to climb El Capitan by a new route, but now the remaining climbers need rescuing.
Hugh and Lewis are hooked into helping with the rescue by Augustine, a search-and-rescue climber. One of the stranded climbers is Augustine's lover, and he will stop at nothing to get to her.
Long accelerates the pace of the story as Lewis eventually bails out of the climb and Hugh pushes on in an effort to save either of the women stranded on the face of the rock, partly just to prove that he can and partly to come face to face with his own demons.
He also knows his way around nature and uses it to great advantage, be it the unforgiving rock or ravages of forest fire and raging storm.
Long tells his story in the arcane patois of the climber and the universal language of people who are in the pangs of guilt or on a quest - a search for redemption or for the innocence of an earlier time. He has a way of addressing the big issues that we all face at one time or another in our lives, and "The Wall" is Long at his piercing, probing best.
From Boulder Daily Camera
“Siege vertical: Harrowing thriller hauls readers up legendary El Capitan”
by Clay Evans January 15, 2006
Setting can make or break a novel. Exotic locales, well-described, have long buoyed the work of writers from Michener to Conrad to William Gibson when the story, prose or characters couldn't carry the load.
But there some successful novels — and movies — in which the author limits himself to a spare or mundane setting and you hardly even notice. Think "My Dinner with Andre" or Nicholson Baker's "Vox."
When I learned that Boulder writer and former rock climber Jeff Long's new thriller, "The Wall," was set on the famous big-wall climb, El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park, I figured he'd spend some hefty time — as much as 100 pages, perhaps — getting his characters up El Cap. But on either end, I expected a lot of setup, perhaps a chase once they got to the top.
Because no sensible writer can expect his readers to stick with a story that that lingers too long on a 3,000-foot, vertical granite wall. Bo-ring.
But Long is lacking in that sense — thank goodness. Once past the thrilling setup in the first 60 pages, the author sends his protagonist Hugh Glass on an epic, late-middle-age climb with his old pal, Lewis Cole — and readers will be on the wall for the next 240 pages.
Yet "The Wall" is anything but tedious, and surprisingly — at least to this casual climber who would never consider a multi-day hump up El Cap — the steep granite setting is both exotic and harrowing.
As younger "wall rats," Hugh and Lewis were Yosemite daredevils whose aura attracted two beautiful women, Rachel and Annie, who became their wives. But that was a long time ago, and now the pair are hoping to rekindle the old thrill — and perhaps recover a lost sense of youth — with a new attempt on El Cap.
For Hugh, the climb may also serve as a tonic: His wife, Annie, wandered off into the Saudi Arabian desert while suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's, and never returned. Meanwhile Rachel, Lewis' wife, confides to Hugh on the eve of the climb that she intends to leave her husband; Hugh makes it part of his mission to subtly prepare his friend for the loss while they creep to the summit.
But before they can get started, a trio of women climbers attempting to pioneer a new route has a terrible accident, and one of the victims crashes into the forest before Hugh's eyes. A strange, seemingly psychotic "caveman" who haunts the forest steals the body and accuses Hugh of murder.
"The hermit lifted his hiking stick, as if to block him. 'Now all hell's loose because of you.' His breath stunk of road kill."
Meanwhile, the lover of one of the doomed trio, Augustine, refuses to believe that the women are all dead. He vows to retrace their route and rescue them.
It's clear from early on that Lewis has the jitters, and when Augustine and a young, fast climber pass the middle-aged pair, Lewis decides to go down with the young climber, while Hugh continues on the rescue mission with Augustine.
But then, the old hermit's predictions about hell breaking loose seem to come true. A forest fire breaks out below them, sending ash and heat and burnt-winged birds skyward, and Hugh finds a buried remnant of his distant past, including pictures of Annie, on a ledge.
And as they approach the hideous tangle of ropes and "portaledges" (it gives me the willies just thinking about sleeping on a bit of nylon and aluminum tubing 2,000 feet above the ground) where disaster befell the women, it becomes clear that at least one remains alive. But something is amiss, and what had seemed a mere harrowing climbing adventure suddenly turns into something much creepier.
I doubt many readers will guess the shocking ending, or detect the unsettling deception that leads to it. The story has a powerful, and potentially controversial, message.
In each of his last three novels — which have earned him New York Times bestseller status — Long has deftly blended many genres, from horror to science fiction to outdoor adventure, occasionally succumbing to kitchen-sink syndrome.
But "The Wall," like his last novel, "The Reckoning," manages to entwine plenty of elements without feeling overstuffed. I was expecting a straight-out climbing adventure, and that's what I got until ... well, read the novel.
And as readers have come to expect from Long, the novel contains bits of intriguing trivia that may or may not be germane to the story. Whether describing for readers the Arab traditions of djinns or the lingo of climbers, he liberally salts his narrative with factoids that fascinate.
"His veins would bulge as he grappled with holds that thinner climbers — stick or bone people, or Biafrans, or Twiggies, all in his lexicon — danced up on with ease. ... His specialties were brute hand-and-fist cracks, fearless hook moves, and the hauling of massive amounts of baggage from the depths."
But in a Long novel, this stuff isn't always as extraneous as it may seem.
As with all his recent work, Jeff Long has written much more than a page-turner in "The Wall." But the fact that he tells his tale so compellingly will keep most readers from grasping what he's up to until the moment he chooses, with great deliberation, to plunge them into a heart-stopping abyss.
ANGELS OF LIGHT
From The Rocky Mountain News
Jeff Long’s first novel, Angels of Light, is a first-class ticket to the unusual and fascinating. Long speaks with the authority and assurance of an insider about the arcane and intimate cult of the rock climber. He goes far beyond offering a well-told, tightly crafted story in Angels of Light. He displays an admirably facile command of the language, a celebration of word music that is entirely appropriate to the mytho-poetic setting of his story. Finally, the author offers well-informed insights into the character of the climber whom we often glimpse only imperfectly from the safety of our living room armchairs.”
From The Boulder Daily Camera
“Long began his writing career jotting out fiction for the host of magazines aimed at climbers. As you might expect, his passages detailing climbs are the most riveting parts of the book. Long puts all the reader’s senses into play as he recreates a strange vertical world filled with cold and pain and rock and ice. On the subject of man clawing rock, he achieves that rarest of things in writing, drawing a picture of a strange world so palpable that it becomes part of the reader’s experience. Those passages alone make the book worth reading and suggest that Long’s best books are still ahead of him.”
From The American Alpine Journal
“Jeff Long has written a climbing Western, with philosophical overtones. Yosemite Valley provides the setting and much of the substance of his exciting and extravagant novel. This is not the Valley that seemed, to a member of the discovering party of 1851, to be a ‘fit abode for angels of light’, but the tourist-ridden, climber-infested scene of the last two decades.”
From The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Jeff Long, a mountain climber himself, has delivered an exceptional novel combining technical expertise, fully drawn characters and a compelling story about one of the world’s most dangerous pursuits, using language as pure as the sheen of an untested rock face.”
From Publishers Weekly
Set in beautiful Yosemite Valley, Long's first novel explores the passions and values of hard-core mountain climbers, here a band of mavericks living in tents or under National Park benches in Camp Site Four. When a ton and a half of marijuana is discovered in a plane downed in a mountain lake, the group of climbers, including veteran John Dog Coloradas, ascends to claim the bounty. Their score makes national headlines, along with pictures of the pilot's body. But bad fortune haunts the climbers afterward: young Tucker, the purest and best among them, takes a mysterious, fatal fall after an extraordinary climb; Bullseye, camp sage and '60s holdover, is found battered and broken at the bottom of a cliff; the camp bully, Kresinski, becomes even nastier. Finally, John returns to the lake with Kresinski to confront the danger stalking the climbers and the destructive forces within himself. Long explores the mythic properties of climbing and the situation of essentially solitary men brought together in a common pursuit. Climbers will relish this rapturous and penetrating, slightly macho paean to their passion.
“The Ascent is an astonishing novel, a darkly brilliant tale haunted by the ominous yet charged with hope and beauty. By embedding the climb of a new route on Everest within the larger story of the cultural tragedy of Tibet, Jeff Long weds suspense and moral vision in a fashion reminiscent of Joseph Conrad.”
David Roberts, author of Moment of Doubt and Other Mountaineering Writings
“From the summit of the earth to the chasm of human rights abuses in Tibet, Jeff Long weaves the Asian truths of his own experience into eloquent fantasy.”
Galen Rowell, coauthor of My Tibet
From Publishers Weekly
The memory of a Wyoming climbing disaster 18 years earlier links two members of an expedition striving to conquer Mt. Everest. Long ( Angels of Light ) sets his second novel on the mountain's remote, virtually impassable Tibetan side, where a 12-person team challenging the (fictional) Kore Wall Route must cope with brutal Chinese occupation policies as well as the dangers of the climb itself. Daniel Corder is the expedition's de facto leader, while Abe Burns is the medic. Neither can afford to dwell on the past, but the disaster is never forgotten, leaving readers to wonder throughout how the tension will be resolved. Meanwhile, there's a moral dilemma concerning a Tibetan Buddhist monk who has escaped Chinese torture and who asks the team's succor. The author, himself an experienced climber, firmly establishes the obsessional aspects of high-altitude mountaineering and offers a superb depiction of the physical and psychological effects of ascending imperial heights. Techno-thriller fans will appreciate Long's detailed descriptions of modern high-tech climbing--from the use of specialized ropes to high-priced endorsements--and his frequent, effective use of military metaphors to emphasize the life-or-death nature of his characters' adventure.
From Library Journal
The author of Angels of Light here turns to adventure set in the Himalayas, as a group of American mountaineers attempt to climb Mount Everest. The characters have diverse motivations and backgrounds, and conflicts between the Chinese government and Tibetan nationals provide interesting foils to the Americans' saga of courage and survival. Beneath the conventional plot lies an existentialist drama of human nature and individual responsibility for one's actions. As the expedition begins to unravel, Long describes in sometimes graphic detail medical problems, emergency surgery under appalling conditions, and the constant possibility of death. He reminds us that each person is the product of past choices. The provocative, by no means conventionally happy ending will have readers debating whether the expedition's final acts were courageous and responsible or merely inevitable.
From Kirkus Reviews
The melodrama and suspense that weighed down Long's previous climbing novel, Angels of Light (1987), are jettisoned for a story of an American assault on Mt. Everest. Sino-Tibetan politics and the echoes of an old climbing disaster are the primary outside complications in this starkly realistic climbing adventure. Long's well- researched story is outstanding for its grimly accurate and thoroughly unromantic depiction of one of the great wild adventures left on earth. --
EMPIRE OF BONES
From The Washington Post
“Jeff Long’s novel, Empire of Bones, confines itself to the final campaign of the 1836 Texas rebellion against the authority of Mexico. Long, a capable writer and keen iconoclast, uses vivid imagery to describe Houston’s eastward retreat from Gonzales, near the Alamo, to San Jacinto, near present-day Houston, where the decisive battle was fought. Long disabuses the reader of any notion that such a retreat was planned or orderly. He sees Houston’s 700 men as desperados, always on the verge of mutiny against Houston’s authority, and he assaults the reader with strong doses of violence, sex, scatology, wanton cruelty and even a touch of cannibalism. Houston appears as a vacillating leader – a mere pawn in the momentous events that fortuitously redounded to his later adulation. In light of Long’s exhaustive research in his previous works, he is probably not overly stretching the truth. Still Long admires his troubled protagonist, if only for providing a touch of sanity in an army of madmen.”
From The Los Angeles Times
“Using the poetic license of fiction, Long makes us privy to philosophical ruminations Sam Houston’s head. In so doing, he perhaps paints him in more saintly hues than in those primary colors limiting biographers. But Long’s fiction also makes more gaspingly real the horrors and butcheries of battle, the disease and filth and mud of the, than do the less passionate recitations of the nonfiction authors.”
From The Rocky Mountain News
The focus of the novel is Houston, and Long’s skills as a writer have never been better used than in this book. We share in long interior monologues with this confused, opportunistic but essentially decent man as he leads a sick, starving, and almost totally insubordinate army on the long march to nowhere that ended in an orgy of violence. There is a surreal edge to Long’s writing consistent with the heat, fear, disease and Houston’s own fondness for alcohol and opium. It’s a portrait of a depressed and demoralized man coming to grips with his own failure, unaware that he was about to have a rendezvous with destiny.”
From The New York Daily News
Long’s vivid account of six turbulent weeks in Texas history begins with the tragic America defeat at the Alamo and ends with the stunning American victory at San Jacinto. That Sam Houston could the tide of history on a dime, so to speak, makes for very compelling reading. Houston is portrayed as a multi-faceted rough diamond who gained inspiration from the classics, was soft-hearted toward the boys under his command, possessed preternatural skills learned from the Indians, and was addicted to alcohol and opium. Long skillfully recreates time and place.”
From Publishers Weekly
“Long, a trenchant critic of Texas mythologizing in such historical studies as Duel of Eagles, takes a fictional look at the origins of his home state in his third novel. Long portrays Houston, his captains and the San Jacinto rank and file not as the demigods of Texas legend but as flawed human beings who became heroes in spite of themselves. His gritty yet poetic retelling of the fight for Texas's independence from Mexico probes moral dilemmas as well as tactical maneuvers.”
"Jeff Long has written a remarkable novel, an imaginative tour de force that somehow succeeds both as sober-minded allegory and nail-biting thriller. A page-turner for thinking people, The Descent is equal parts Ray Bradbury and Robert Stone, Michael Crichton and T. C. Boyle. It is a rip-roaring good read."
— Jon Krakauer, author of Into Thin Air
"Absolutely bone-chilling -- every bit as good as Stephen King at his best."
— Charles Pellegrino, author of Dust
"This flat-out, gears-grinding, bumper-car ride into the pits of hell is one major takedown of a read. Jeff Long starts his adventure/mystery/horror story quietly in the Himalayas and then warp speeds into a world seldom seen and puts a face to the reality of evil the likes of which would give Stephen King and Dean Koontz the night sweats. Long writes with force and unearthly vision, etching vivid characters who speak in an all-too-realistic manner about the horrors they encounter. What emerges is a War of the Worlds against a world that can't lose. With The Descent, Jeff Long has delivered what is bound to be this summer's really hot read. It is one page-burner of a book."
— Lorenzo Carcaterra, author of Sleepers
"Jeff Long keeps the pages turning at a feverish pace and creates a world so vivid that we are compelled to follow him to the gates of Hell."
— Jonathan Rabb, author of The Overseer
From The Book Report
"Literally every page of this novel demonstrates the meticulous work of a true craftsman. The pacing and energy level maintained throughout The Descent is a wonder and an absolute joy to experience. From its opening paragraph to its kick-in-the-head ending The Descent keeps its readers going and going and going."
From The Denver Post
"Perfect…an epic adventure tale. Long has put out perhaps the best beach-reading book in years. He has turned what could have been just another written-for-TV thriller into a fascinating, credible look at good versus evil, the degradation of colonization and a theological treatise on whether hell really exists. The Descent shows an imagination run amok, but in tribute to Long’s skills as a writer, he is able to make us believe it is possible. It’s right out of the Stephen King mold, with a touch of Dante’s Inferno thrown in for good measure.”
From Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
" In an era when the ultimate frontier for man’s future is focused on space, Long puts forth that the most fantastic frontier might just be found not by looking into the far-off reaches of the heavens, but by digging into the cavernous hell that lies right beneath our own feet. Combining the stylistic elements of adventure and horror, Jeff Long's latest novel, The Descent is a sweeping, dark epic that so deserves the clichéd label of page turner that the reader should keep burn ointment close by to treat finger blisters."
From The Rocky Mountain News
“Part thriller, part horror story and part mystery, The Descent is an all-engulfing reading experience. As frightening and exhilarating as anything in heaven or hell…and impossible to set down. This is no reworking of Jules Verne's story and not even Stephen King and Tom Clancy could come up with what happens next...I would like to tell you more, but I have a sudden compelling urge to barricade my cellar door."”
From The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Long has fashioned an irresistible tale that will keep you up three or four nights in a row reading, then induce another couple of weeks of insomnia while you try to eliminate the book’s lingering menace from your mind…Long is offering all sorts of subliminal allegories here, from the stupidity of mankind defying nature to the nobility of dying for a lost cause. He’s scaring us and teaching us at the same time. Only a fine writer could pull off both so well. The Descent is simply the best horror novel since Ghost Story, and, on pure literary merit, it could even be called a masterpiece.”
From Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
“A big, sprawling book, tying together its many strings as it moves closer to a confrontation with the forces of evil. It moves along at a brisk pace, intriguing at the same it horrifies. The vivid description is a particular pleasure, even as it is used to depict something horrible. Readers who like their gore vivid, and a narrative pace that moves fast, will find much to enjoy in The Descent.”
From The Baltimore Sun
"Long's smart and epic tale takes the reader into a Dantesque world, a journey to the center of the earth for the new millennium. And what is found there is both horrific and entrancing..."
From Publishers Weekly
"...a dizzying synthesis of supernatural horror, lost-race fantasy and military SF...Long's novel brims with energy, ideas and excitement."
From Library Journal
"...invites comparison to Dante -- but his style is more reminiscent of early Stephen King, when characters still mattered...one of those compelling books that is difficult to finish but even more difficult to put down."
"It's been a long time since an adventure novel this original, this well-developed, this genuinely exciting, came along ... Recommend it wholeheartedly to adventure-novel fans as well as anyone who likes something different...this one could become a well-deserved best-seller."
“Here's a word you don't see very often in book reviews: Wow!
There's no other word for Year Zero. It's an audacious, powerful and beautifully written novel that deals with issues of global scope. Author Jeff Long proves himself a storyteller of uncommon skill and breathtaking imagination.
The plot defies simple description, as the book defies easy categorization. The story encompasses virtually the entire world, yet focuses primarily on two people. They have little in common. Not even the catastrophe that is pushing the human race to the brink of extinction affects them the same way. What binds them is a trait of their characters. Each is searching for something.
Faith and questions
Nathan Lee Swift, an archaeologist, is looking for his daughter. Miranda Abbot, a teen-aged science prodigy, is looking for a cure to the bizarre plague that is sweeping around the world. It seems to have its roots in antiquity, perhaps among the bones of first-century crucifixion victims unearthed in Jerusalem -- not coincidentally by Nathan Lee. Miranda is motivated in her search by an abiding belief that science and logic will unlock the mysteries of the plague. Nathan Lee is motivated by an abiding belief that his daughter Grace will grant him a form of redemption.
"He was ever mindful of Grace, ever," Long writes. "It wearied him, and his weariness felt like the worst betrayal. His quest had become a curse. His love had become a disease, or worse an abstraction. He loved his daughter because she had been his to love. Now he could not move ahead with or without her. Sometimes he could barely breathe."
As the story unfolds, the reader is drawn into a world that is familiar, yet totally alien. Long spreads his narrative from the ruins of the Holy Land to the peaks of the Himalayas, from a Greek island to a New Mexico mesa.
He introduces us to heroes and villains, though their actions are not always heroic or villainous. He creates a synthesis of genres -- a bit of medical thriller, a bit of science fiction, a little romance, a dash of action-adventure -- that stands as a literary entity unto itself. He is fearless in tackling thorny issues, ranging from matters of faith to the definition of life.
Year Zero is quite simply unlike any other book you'll read this year. It is as rich in pure story as it is in characterization, as daring in its plot as it is in examining the human condition pushed to its limits. With his fifth novel, Long firmly establishes himself as an author with something to say and an extraordinary gift for saying it.
In a word, "Wow!"
From The Denver Post
“Boulder author Jeff Long is adept at using science fiction to tell rip-roaring adventure tales, with clearly delineated heroes and villains faced with murky ethical and pragmatic choices…He manages to juggle several plot lines and themes, all the while asking the tough questions: Is it moral to create humans to harvest body parts for study, even if the future of civilization itself hangs in the balance? Is it proper to create a clone from a recently deceased relative because you can’t live without them, even if you know they are doomed once again?
Then there are the religious angles Long addresses: What if we could clone the historical Jesus from a drop of blood on a remnant of the cross? How far will people go if they want to believe, even if the odds are firmly against what they actually being true?
Long seems to always tackle the big picture, usually several big pictures, in one book. He did it with The Descent and he does it here again. It’s to Long’s credit that does so while telling a fully engrossing story with believable characters.”
From Publishers Weekly
The sum of this complex tale is more than its parts of medical thriller, archeological fiction, action/adventure and doomsday scenario, as Long (The Descent) thrills with an intricate puzzle. Long mounts one nearly impossible escape scene after another and doesn't miss a step as he builds a no-win scenario, then pulls it out. The shifting terrain is vibrantly portrayed, the religious fallout is deftly handled and the characters engage completely as they face a gruesome end to civilization in this dashing, exciting thriller.
Long exploded onto the fantasy-adventure scene in 1999 with The Descent, an original, audacious, and hugely entertaining novel about an underground civilization and a place called Hell. Wisely, Long has not attempted to top that over-the-top novel; he has, however, put together a story that equals it for freshness and ambition. An ancient plague has been unleashed upon the modern world, a plague that has no cure. There is only one hope for humanity: clone human beings who survived a similar plague millennia ago--human beings from the year zero, from the time when Jesus lived. (Luckily, a recent archaeological expedition has unearthed plenty of bones from the year zero.) In the quest for the cure to the plague, will scientists clone the son of God himself? Adventure novels don't get much gutsier than this, and it is only Long's skill as a storyteller that keeps the tale from becoming ludicrous. He makes way-out-in-left-field plotlines seem plausible, and he makes the fantastic seem real. Fans of The Descent (or other bigger-than-life thrillers such as Allan Folsom's Day after Tomorrow) will no doubt flock to this one; with aggressive marketing and word of mouth, it could--and should--go through the roof.
From Publishers Weekly
Long (Year Zero, etc.) delivers a suspenseful, tightly written tale of a nightmarish journey into the dark past—and present—of Cambodia's former killing fields. Molly Drake, a would-be photojournalist, accompanies a U.S. Army-led search for the bones of a pilot shot down during the war. Long's considerable knowledge of Cambodian folklore and history is put to good use as he superbly depicts the war-scarred country, its people and its beautiful, hazardous landscape—lush, verdant, strewn with land mines, studded by bones. Although the inner lives of the characters are not as detailed as they could have been, the author's use of supernatural elements is subtle and effective, and adds an extra dimension to this solid, coolly told, smoothly paced narrative.
Long's new book is in some ways a "choose-your-own-adventure" novel. It may--or it may not--be a ghost story. It may--or it may not--have a happy ending. Some readers might be confounded by the ambiguity, but the majority will go with the flow and be thoroughly entertained. The book centers on Molly Drake, a photojournalist who takes an assignment as liaison with an American team of MIA investigators in Cambodia. At this point, it's no longer a search for the living, just the bones of the dead. Long invokes a powerful sense of nightmarish existence in a place where one's next footstep could land on an unexploded landmine. Molly and the rest of the party fight their personal wars with fever and injury during a relentless quest for the MIAs, spurred on by the oncoming monsoon season and also by rumors of a legendary city hidden deep in the jungle. Perceptions of reality blur, commingling the modern world with the sinister beauty of a civilization that has its roots in the dawn of recorded history.
THE TRUE STORY OF CLAUDE DALLAS
From Outside Magazine
This story – about a killing (two actually) and the events that led up to and followed it – is a kind we seem to like reading these days. Several have made it into the bestseller orbit since Truman Capote launched the genre with In Cold Blood. Jeff Long’s book does not quite reach those altitudes where the air is rarefied and literary, but Outlaw certainly deserves to be compared with Fatal Vision, Joe McGinniss’s book about the Green Beret doctor who is serving three life sentences for slaughtering his wife and two young daughters, and with The Onion Field, Joseph Wambaugh’s account of a particularly tragic cop killing.
The milieu for Outlaw is what Long handles best. The killings took place in a remote and wild part of the country – Idaho, near the Nevada border. This is a place where people still make a living by trapping animals, just like the legendary mountain men, and where they still like to settle things without benefit of assistance of The Law. It is a place, in short, where a lot of the myths (and many of the realities) of the old American West are hanging on, even if only by their fingernails.
When Claude Dallas, a Midwesterner who had become a Westerner through a great act of will, killed state game warden Bill Pogue (and his partner, Conley Elms), he made himself into a symbol. Because he had made himself into what he was – the closest thing to a mountain man that it is still possible to be – he could carry this heavy freight through the subsequent chase and trial, which he lost – and won – and which left just about everybody dissatisfied. Probably it is fair to say that the killing was inevitable, fated somehow, and the law was, therefore, unable to deal with it. But Jeff Long has found in that sense of the fates at work the perfect mood for a genuinely fine narrative that is “about” a crime at one level and so much more at another.
From The New York City Tribune
“Jeff Long’s Outlaw brilliantly tells Dallas’ story and dramatizes the inevitable conflict between society’s rules and Dallas’…Long is well equipped to understand the people and the land which he so skillfully describes. A native Westerner, his work has appeared in numerous periodicals, including the Denver Post, The San Francisco Chronicle and in eight anthologies. To compiles his research for Outlaw, Long interviewed 100 people, including lumberjacks, ranchers, cowboys and the families of those directly involved.
Long’s book is a study not only of an outlaw but of a Marlboro Man culture far removed from 20th century urban America.
Long does a masterful job of depicting the man and his crime.”
From The State Journal (Reno, Nevada)
“A Western murder seen as Greek tragedy….a compelling probe, attempting to be objective, filled with perspective, revealing not only extensive information on the charismatic Dallas but insight into a part of the West which is probably unfamiliar to people in its urban areas. While Long does not exonerate Dallas, or condone what Dallas has done, he does have a keen eye for the larger forces which were at work here. What comes through, consequently, is a Greek tragedy in a sparse, western wilderness.”
From The Idaho Statesman
“In ordinary circumstances, the meeting between Claude Dallas and Bill Pogue on Jan. 5, 1981, would have been little more than a game warden attempting to bring a poacher to justice…But it became far more than that when Dallas drew his .357 Magnum from its holster and gunned down Pogue and fellow game warden Conley Elms. Law enforcement authorities called it murder. Dallas called it self-defense…Legalities aside, the shootout was painted by Dallas foes and supporters alike as a classic confrontation between the Old West and the New.
Jeff Long, journalist, short story writer and author of Outlaw supports that theme in his portrayal of the events leading up to and following that fateful meeting….Long, who traveled thousands of miles and interviewed nearly 100 people, has put together a highly readable account of Claude Dallas that goes far beyond the shootout itself. (He) sets the scene well, delving into the philosophy of the Owyhee region…
Long is careful not to glorify the confessed killer of the two Idaho game wardens. He nonetheless paints a sympathetic and intriguing picture of Dallas, a man caught up in a dream of the Old West, where each man lived by his wits and was a law unto himself. He is equally sympathetic to the victims, painting the best profile of Bill Pogue that I’ve read to date. Best of all, Long ties together several years of events that became scattered and disjointed in news accounts of the shootout, manhunt, capture and trial.”
DUEL OF EAGLES:
THE MEXICAN AND U.S. FIGHT FOR THE ALAMO
Main selection of the History Book of the Month Club
From James Michener
“On two occasions I have written about the Alamo, that crucial experience in Mexican-American relations. This obligated me to review most of what had been written on this vital subject, but there was nothing in print when I worked to equal Jeff Long’s detailed study of the facts. His book is a remarkable contribution to Texas history, both a captivating account of what happened and a well-footnoted summary of the historical documents on which the story is based. This is a most entertaining and useful book.”
From Texas Monthly
“Jeff Long’s Duel of Eagles cuts through the Promethean haze surrounding the famous siege and tells a wonderful, moving story about Texas. It is the first historical work written for a wide audience that takes a long, thoroughly unsentimental look at the principals of the battle – William Travis, James Bowie, and David Crockett – and questions their motives for being there and their competence as leaders. Long’s treatment of the issue of misfiring, sputtering leadership, in particular, gives Duel of Eagles the poignancy, depth, and bald honesty that accounts of the Alamo have lacked.
Duel of Eagles ratchets the supermen of the Alamo down to life size. It places the battle, as well as the Texas Revolution, in a national context, and by so doing questions standard interpretations of the motives behind Texas’ break with Mexico. In Long’s opinion the revolution was less a quest for liberty and more a pursuit of private gain and national expansion. Finally, Duel of Eagles does not protect its readers from the facts. Long doesn’t tell us that war is hell; he gives the gory proof. Walls are speckled with blood, rivers run red, there is a stench in the air, and vultures hang in the blue Texas sky.”
From The Washington Post
“Long has mined all available sources on both sides of the Rio Grande…He succeeds in bringing the Alamo saga to life once again.”
From the Richmond News Leader
“Long writes dramatically and powerfully…He has adroitly extracted surviving fact from a deep pit of fiction. The result is the best history of the Alamo fight yet produced.”
From theNewport News Daily Press
“A superbly written narrative that manages to hold the reader’s attention through every paragraph…Duel of Eagles does for the Alamo what Evan Connell’s Son of the Morning Star did for Custer.”
From Evan Connell, author of Son of the Morning Star
“I greatly enjoyed it. I doubt anybody will do it better.”
From Publishers Weekly
“Long states bluntly that the "so-called Texas Revolution was designed only to wrench a huge chunk of Mexican territory free of Mexican control long enough for the United States to annex it." How the Anglo-Americans accomplished it is the subject of this dramatic revisionist look at the 1835-1836 war for Texan independence. The book emphasizes the white revolutionaries' racist contempt for and brutalization of the indigenous population, and the savagery on both sides during the military engagements at Gonzales, the Alamo, Goliad and the decisive victory over Santa Anna's forces at San Jacinto. Sweeping aside stock legends of the war, Long ( Outlaw: The True Story of Claude Dallas ) roasts several famed figures, including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie. The commander of the Alamo garrison, William Travis, is portrayed as a syphilitic satyr unfit to lead men in battle. Sam Houston shows up as both an alcoholic and an opium addict. Texans will be outraged. Others are likely to enjoy this brazen debunking of sacred local myths.”
From Library Journal
“The perennial story of the fall of the Alamo is about due for a modern retelling, and this popular history will nicely fill the bill. Long makes use of many Mexican accounts which have been long known but often neglected. His work takes in the entire Texan War, but he finds few genuine heroes on either side except for the long-suffering private soldiers and civilians. The book goes far to cut through the jungle of heroic myths which have grown up about the conflict. This is lively and provocative reading which all Southwest buffs will enjoy. Recommended for public libraries.”