Sunday, May 26, 2013

SHOWgrins by Betty Collier

Tour Date: May 28th

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

XLIBRIS (February 12, 2013)

***Special thanks to Betty Collier for sending me a review copy.***


 Betty Collier is a nurse by profession, author by passion, and storyteller by the grace of God. After reading the headlines that tennis pro Venus Williams suffers from Sjogren's syndrome, Betty discovered she had many of the same symptoms. This began her quest to share the journeys of five other remarkable women battling this incurable illness. The third in her Living Inside The Testimony Book Series, Betty hopes others will discover that they too live inside testimonies meant to be shared. Betty lives in Bartlett, Tennessee, with her husband, the absolute love of her life, and their two sons. Betty's passion for increasing awareness of this silent disease takes her beyond the inspirational stories she has written about to the streets of Nashville, TN where she will run with Team Sjogren's on April 27, 2013 in the Country Music Half Marathon to help increase awareness and raise funds for Sjogren’s research.

Visit the author's website.


Award-winning author Betty Collier has intricately woven a beautiful, edifying and inspirational book that informs readers of Sjogren's syndrome - its signs and symptoms, diagnosis, medication and treatment, complications, and other related information. Readers will be captivated by the inspiring and uplifting story of five remarkable women who embarked on the same journey through Sjögren’s syndrome. This book takes Venus Williams’ fight against the same autoimmune disease many women are suffering right now as a concrete instance. Along with her story, Collier brings into the limelight the cases of Cathy Taylor, Estrella Bibbey, Judy Kang, Lynn Petruzzi, and Paula Beth Sosin, the five women who opened their hearts and shared their Sjogren’s stories with the world for everyone to understand more about this incurable disease. Through the heartwarming stories of these five women and the intimate details of their journeys, millions will be inspired, encouraged, and motivated to face the crossroads in their lives.

Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 102 pages
Publisher: XLIBRIS (February 12, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1479780154
ISBN-13: 978-1479780150


Fame, Fortune, and Fatigue

Who wouldn’t want to be like Venus Williams, one of the most admired professional athletes in the world? Continue reading for about three or four minutes, and I’ll answer that question. But first, let’s take a quick glance at the trophy room of this phenomenal tennis superstar. She has won an astonishing forty-three singles titles, including two U.S. Open Singles and five Wimbledon Singles. Along with her sister Serena Williams, she has also won an amazing nineteen doubles titles which include two at the U.S. Open Doubles, two at the French Open Doubles, five at the Wimbledon Doubles, and four at the Australian Open Doubles. And lastly, she has been an Olympic gold medal tennis champion for an unprecedented four times.
In addition to her tennis accolades, Williams is CEO of her interior design firm, “V Starr Interiors” and realized a dream come true by launching her fashion line “EleVen.”  She has been recognized by Forbes on numerous occasions such as Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women in the World, Forbes Most Powerful Black Women In The U.S., and Forbes the Celebrity 100. If that’s not enough, she’s also part-owner of the Miami Dolphins along with her sister Serena, making them the first African-American females with ownership in an NFL franchise.

So why am I talking about Williams in my book? After all, she wrote a New York Times Bestseller, a book entitled Come to Win: Business Leaders, Artists, Doctors, and Other Visionaries on How Sports Can Help You Top Your Profession. What does her book have to do with my book? Absolutely nothing. However, this book does have a lot to do with Williams. You see, Williams had to pull out of the U.S. Open in 2011 due to yet another undertaking, undoubtedly her toughest challenge yet, one that up to four million Americans are also battling to live with.

Williams is fighting Sjögren’s syndrome, the second most common autoimmune disease. Prior to her announcement, Sjögren’s syndrome was probably the most common, unknown disease in the world even though it was first identified in 1933 by Dr. Henrik Sjögren.

Classic symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth, but Sjögren’s may also cause dysfunction of organs such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system. Williams, along with millions of others, experience extreme fatigue and joint pain, which is likely why she had to withdraw from the tournament.

I will ask the question again. Who wouldn’t want to be like Venus Williams? Up to four million Americans can answer in the affirmative, with approximately 3,600,000 of them being females. I think I am one of them. I have not been formally diagnosed yet, but I am seeing the specialist my primary care physician referred me to. Before I finish writing this book, I will know for sure if I have it, but that's another chapter toward the end of the book.

For now, let's see what happened after Williams pulled out of the U.S. Open. I read a story on the internet a couple of days after she withdrew, Venus Williams Battles Sjögren’s Syndrome. Needless to say, my curiosity got the best of me. I wondered how she could have such a dreadful disease which forced her to leave the tournament after only one match. Would she ever be able to return to this sport that she loved and once ruled?

Much to my surprise, the article only had two paragraphs about Williams. She was quoted as saying, “I am thankful I finally have a diagnosis and am now focused on getting better and returning to the court soon.” The rest of the article was about the disease, not Williams. It was only one day after reading Williams had to withdraw that I began writing the first chapter of this book.

As I was trying to comprehend what had happened to me over those twenty-four hours, I had already self-diagnosed myself as being affirmed with this same condition, and I was now totally obsessed with writing a book about it to help others. I just wish Dr. Smith had identified the illness instead of Dr. Sjögren. Hence the book title, SHOWgrins, because I read that Sjögren’s is pronounced “SHOW-grins.” In my haste to start writing this book the very next day, I entitled it SHOWgrins so I wouldn’t forget how to pronounce my new diagnosis and new book title.

So how does this story fit into my book series of uplifting, real-life, inspirational testimonies? Let’s see what Venus Williams had to say about all of this.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Diamond in the Rough (Charm & Deceit Series Book 1) by Jennifer AlLee and Lisa Karon Richardson

Tour Date: May 24th

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

Whitaker House (May 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***


Veteran authors Jennifer AlLee and Lisa Karon Richardson have combined their considerable skills to create the action-packed historical romance series, Charm & Deceit, for Whitaker House.

 Jennifer AlLee is the bestselling author of The Love of His Brother (2007) for Five Star Publishers, and for Abington Press: The Pastor's Wife (2010), The Mother Road (April 2012), and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (November 2012). She’s also published a number of short stories, devotions and plays. Jennifer is a passionate participant in her church’s drama ministry. She lives with her family in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Visit the author's website.

Lisa Karon Richardson has led a life of adventure — from serving as a missionary in the Seychelles and Gabon to returning to the U.S. to raise a family—and she imparts her stories with similarly action-packed plot lines. She’s the author of Impressed by Love (2012) for Barbour Publishing’s Colonial Courtships anthology, The Magistrate’s Folly, and Midnight Clear, part of a 2013 holiday anthology, also from Barbour. Lisa lives with her husband and children in Ohio.

Visit the author's website.


Grant Diamond is a professional gambler on the run from his past. When he comes across a wagon wreck, the chance to escape his pursuers is too good a gamble to pass up, so he assumes the identity of the dead wagon driver. His plan takes an unexpected turn, though, when heiress Lily Rose mistakes him for the missionary she had asked to come to Eureka, California to work with the local Wiyot Indians. Seeing Eureka as a promising place to lay low, Grant plays along. Before he knows it, he’s bluffing his way through sermons and building a school. But with a Pinkerton on his trail and a rancher rousing fresh hatred against the Indians, Grant fears the new life he’s built may soon crumple like a house of cards.

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (May 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603747427
ISBN-13: 978-1603747424


April 1861

Eureka, California

“They’re dying, Hodge!” Lily burst through the door of the general store. “I don’t know what’s wro—oomph.” She jerked to a stop as her hoopskirt caught in the door. Again.
A handful of choice phrases leaped to mind, but she settled for inarticulate grumbling as she reached back with one hand to wrench the flexible metallic hoops free. As she staggered forward, her skirts belled out, knocking over a display of stacked baking soda tins. She stooped to prevent the cans from rolling willy-nilly across the floor, only to have the back of her skirt swing in the opposite direction and make contact with something solid.
Hodge wiped his hands on his apron as he hurried around from behind the counter. “Just leave it, Miss Lily.”
Lily straightened, shifting the cumbersome flowerpot she held in the crook of one arm. With her free hand, she swept the loose tendrils of hair from her eyes and tucked them behind her ear. “You really need to widen that door.”
Hodge cocked his head and planted his hands on his hips. “You really need to wear skirts that don’t endanger life and limb.”
Lily narrowed her eyes and opened her mouth to correct him, but she snapped it shut again when she noticed a man leaning against the counter. His dark hair stood up in spiky patches, as if he’d run his fingers through it repeatedly since removing his hat. His craggy complexion was saved from severity by the quirk of a dimple at the corner of his mouth and the glint of humor in his green eyes.
With a barely perceptible nod, Lily turned away from the stranger’s amused glance and squared her shoulders. She wasn’t above arguing with Hodge, but she couldn’t afford to antagonize him right now. She needed his help.
She thrust the flowerpot she carried at the shopkeeper. A feathery purple peony drooped listlessly over the side, its leaves marred by irregular black spots. “Can you tell me what’s wrong with this thing?”
Hodge plucked off one of the saddest-looking leaves and rubbed it between his fingers, then lifted it to his nose and sniffed. “You’ve got blight.” He tossed the leaf back into the pot.
“Blight?” That sounded bad. And pervasive. Whatever it was hadn’t afflicted just this particular plant. Half the peonies in the greenhouse looked the same. Mama was going to have a fit when she got back from San Francisco. “What did I do?”
“Don’t flatter yourself. It’s caused by a fungus.”
“Oh.” That was some small consolation. “Is there any cure?”
“Sure, there is.”
Lily tamped down her irritation, forcing a smile instead. Getting information out of Hodge was more tedious than pulling weeds from the garden. “And what might that cure be?”
“Steep a handful of elder leaves in hot water with some Castile soap, then rub it on the leaves.”
“Castile soap?”
“Yep. I’ve got some in the back.” Hodge held up his hand, halting her attempt to follow him. “Oh no, you don’t. You’ll leave another trail of destruction in your wake.”
Lily sniffed and raised her chin. Hodge didn’t know the first thing about fashion. Granted, she hadn’t quite gotten the hang of these hoops yet. But, when she did, the whole town would be impressed with her grace and style. And Mama would finally be happy.
With great care, she glided across the room, mindful not to knock over anything else. No use proving Hodge’s point. She halted at the counter and picked up a seed catalog. Maybe Mama need never know. Lily could order replacement seeds, or bulbs, or whatever these plants came from. Only, how long did they take to grow?
The black-clad stranger stood only a few feet away, studying a sheaf of paper in his hands. For some reason, his dimple showed. Lily made a pointed flip of the catalog page. If he thought she’d come over here to speak with him, he was sorely mistaken.
“You’ll need root cuttings to plant peonies.” The stranger turned his head and offered her a roguish smile.
Lily nodded once. They hadn’t been introduced, but a lady wasn’t rude without reason.
“I don’t think they’ll carry them in that catalog, though.”
“Where might I get some?” The question crossed her lips before she could frame it in her mind. Her hand jerked to her mouth, as if she could catch her words and snatch them back before they reached his ears.
“Special dealers, horticultural friends, botanical gardens.” The words rolled effortlessly off his tongue.
Lily blinked. He looked so…rough. What did this sort of man know about frivolities like flower gardens?
He pushed away from the counter and turned to face her fully, giving her an accurate picture of just how tall he was. At eye level with her was his neck, which, she now noticed, was encircled by a clerical collar. Her jaw dropped a notch. A clergyman? Mindful of Mama’s opinions on good breeding, she pressed her lips together again, but she couldn’t tear her eyes away from that stark white square.
Hodge bustled back in from the storage room. “Here you go, Miss Lily. Had to open a new crate.” He held out a bar wrapped in paper.
“Thank you.” Lily accepted it, then glanced at the stranger again. The way he looked at her made it feel as if the room were ten degrees warmer. Resisting the urge to press her palms against her cheeks, she fumbled with the clasp of her reticule. “How much do I owe you, Hodge?”
“A dime’ll do it.”
The preacher put on his hat, tipped it at her, and headed outside.
Lily found the coin and handed it over without bothering to quibble about the outrageous price.
“See you were talkin’ to Reverend Crew. He’s fresh from out East. Sent by some missionary society, think he said.”
Lily’s head jerked up. “Missiona—oh, no!” Snatching up her flowerpot and bar of soap, she whirled around and strode toward the door, heedless of the destruction she wrought in her pursuit of the stranger.
The smell hit him first. Pinkerton Detective Carter Forbes covered his mouth and nose with his handkerchief. His trusty mare, Friday, hesitated, and he patted her neck. “It’s okay, girl. Whatever caused this should be long gone by now.”
She whickered softly in response, then moved forward with cautious, delicate steps, her muscles bunched and ready to gallop if necessary.
Around the next bend in the trail was a covered wagon toppled on its side. Carter scanned the area. The horses that had been hitched to it were nowhere in sight. Enormous redwoods stood like sentinels protecting the smaller denizens of the forest. One wagon wheel had caught against a tree. Leaves covered the chassis and littered the torn canvas. Nothing moved.
Senses jangling, Carter dismounted and looped Friday’s reins over a nearby tree limb. The birds overhead ceased their chattering, and even the breeze stilled, as if the whole forest held its breath in anticipation. The rustle of his footsteps through dry leaves sounded remarkably loud in the hush. His fingers grazed the butt of his pistol.
He twitched aside the flap of the canvas. The stench redoubled nearly knocked him off his feet. He staggered back, letting the fabric fall closed again. Gagging, he sucked in a gulp of relatively pure air, but the foulness refused to be purged from his lungs. Over and over he inhaled, pressing his nose against his shirtsleeve in a futile attempt to mask the disgusting odor. At last, he clamped one hand over his mouth and, with the other, wrenched the canvas away with a terrible rip.
The dead man lay on his back. Carter swore under his breath. Why did he always give in to his infernal curiosity? A prudent man would’ve ridden on by. Minded his own business. But not Carter Forbes. Oh, no; he had to see. The quality made him a good Pinkerton, but it could be downright inconvenient.
He squatted and moved closer to the man. The scurry of tiny, clawed feet against the wood made him flinch. The corpse had lain exposed to the elements and scavengers long enough to make identifying the fellow impossible. Carter shook his head. The poor man hadn’t had anyone on hand to mourn his loss.
Sighing, he backed away. The least he could do was dig the man a decent grave. A shovel was still tied to the outside of the wagon. He grabbed it and began digging. The rhythmic thump of the blade biting into the earth sounded a primitive lament.
By how much would this set him back? He had made up a lot of time by riding hard. Still, Diamond probably had almost a day on him.
At last, the hole was large enough. Panting, Carter put aside the shovel and scrabbled out of the pit. He removed his coat and vest and slung them over Friday’s accommodating back. Now for the worst of it.
He ducked inside the wagon again. He couldn’t bring himself to touch the body’s decaying limbs, so he grabbed a fistful of pant fabric and another of jacket. The corpse was heavier than he’d expected it to be as he dragged it to the edge of the makeshift grave.
Lord, keep me from such an end. Carter rolled the corpse over so that it lay facedown. A small round hole penetrated the back of the jacket at about the level of the heart. The area around the hole was stained with blood, but death must have been nigh instantaneous.
He stood and pushed his hat back from his forehead. Why hadn’t he passed on by when he’d had the chance? Blast. Maybe God was punishing him for leaving his sister alone for so long.
He maneuvered the body so that it was face-up again and then methodically searched the pockets. He needed to figure out who the victim was. Then he would ride to the nearest town and turn the matter over to the local sheriff.
When he reached his hand inside the inner breast pocket of the jacket, his fingers found something hard. He plucked out the item—a locket on a gold chain. Could it be? He opened the tiny silver clasp to reveal the serious-eyed gaze of a striking young woman.
Triumph tasted bitter—too tangled up with the scent of death. Could it be that he’d finally found Grand Diamond, the infamous murderer?
His search intensified, as though the evidence might begin to vanish if he wasted any time. He turned up a pocketknife, a handkerchief, a twist of string, a pencil stub, and a thin packet of letters. No gun. Carter frowned. A man wanted for murder wasn’t likely to travel unarmed. Whoever had killed him had probably stolen his weapon.
Carter sat down on an overturned bucket and took up the packet of letters. He pulled on the end of the faded satin ribbon that bound them together. The pages were fragile and scarred with soft, fuzzy creases, as if they’d been folded and unfolded with great frequency.
Grant, my love, I will wait for you in the conservatory at midnight.
More confirmation that the dead man was Diamond. After three years of near misses, Carter finally had his man. Now he could collect his bonus, return to Emily, and get her started on her new treatments.
Yet he didn’t feel any sense of accomplishment. His fingers caressed the worn paper. These letters would be enough proof for anybody. But it was wrong—all wrong. The body was damp, as if it had been out when it had rained two days ago. The letters weren’t. They were almost entirely dry.
And the body was too far decomposed to have been dead only a day or two. This man must have been killed at least a week ago.
Carter pinched the bridge of his nose. He’d been after Diamond for so long, and he wanted nothing more than to close the case and go home. But he couldn’t. Not yet. There was more to this thing than met the eye, and Carter had to see it through, no matter where it led.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Fearless Passage of Steven Kim, by Carl Herzig with Steven Kim

Tour Date: May 23rd

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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Whitaker House (March 14, 2013)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***


Seung-Whan (Steven) Kim is a South Korean/American businessman and leading human rights advocate described by ABC news as "a face and a voice on behalf of suffering North Koreans." After serving four years in a Chinese prison camp for rescuing North Korean refugees, Kim returned to the U. S. and founded 318 Partners, a humanitarian organization that continues the work he began, focusing especially on the plight of trafficked North Korean women and children being sold into the sex trade. Kim and his wife are the parents of three grown children and live in Huntington, New York.

Carl Herzig, PhD, is a professor of English at St. Ambrose University where he teaches sacred poetry, contemporary fiction, and creative writing. He is a fellow of the National Writing Project and reviewer for a variety of literary and creative arts journals. Dr. Herzig has served as an Iowa Humanities Scholar and evaluator for the Hearst Foundation U.S. Senate Youth Program, the Iowa Humanities Board, and the Illinois Council for the Humanities.

Visit the authors'  website.


Seung-Whan (Steven) Kim was a successful but self-absorbed businessman living the American dream as a South Korean-turned-American citizen when he felt God calling him to intervene on behalf of North Korean refugees. In 2003 Kim was arrested in China for harboring and helping refugees escape through an underground railroad. He would serve four years in prison camps where his faith flourished despite the harsh environment. Immersing himself in Scripture and prayer, he secretly lead fellow inmates and their guard to Christ at great personal risk. Today Kim's refugee mission continues and he's known as a powerful voice for human rights, especially North Korean women and children being trafficked for profit. The Fearless Passage of Steven Kim serves as an inspiring reminder of what God can accomplish through one willing and obedient heart.

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (March 14, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 160374729X
ISBN-13: 978-1603747295


New York

Saturday, May 31, 1975

“Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.”
—Job 8:7

Though already twenty-seven, Steven Kim felt like an excited teen as he stepped onto the tarmac at New York’s Kennedy Airport. His heart was bursting with an overwhelming sense of possibility, his head swimming with American-Dream visions of unbridled prosperity. He knew some English, if not as much as he thought, and crossed to the terminal with every assurance that a bright future awaited him around the first corner.

Steven had dreamed of this moment for almost twenty years, ever since he and his classmates in South Korea had studied English as a second language in middle school. For him, the United States had always been a nation of salvation; a champion-state of equality, individualism, and democracy; a bastion of both personal and political freedom. In the late 1960s, he had gone so far as to volunteer to fight alongside American forces in Vietnam.

And the U.S. was a mostly Christian nation, Steven knew. There would even be Korean churches like the ones he’d grown up with back home, established by Korean immigrants generations before, in the early the twentieth century. In South Korea, the number of churches was increasing dramatically, and there were already more Korean Christians than there were adherents to any of the country’s other religions. By this point, Steven figured, there must be tens of thousands of Korean Christians in America, and plenty of churches in New York from which to choose.

Most important for Steven, the American flag had become for him, as it had for Koreans in every walk of life, a banner of unlimited economic promise and business opportunity. For them, the U.S. was the place to go if you wanted to become rich. Wages were higher across the board, even at the lowest level, and one’s earnings, he believed, in the tradition of Horatio Alger, were in direct proportion to how hard you were willing to work. It was simple ingwa ŭngbo, cause and effect, based on initiative and poram, worthiness. The U.S. economy was less vulnerable to market fluctuations than Korea’s, and, in stark contrast to Korea’s highly politicized atmosphere, family and political connections in the U.S. were not always required for commercial success. All one needed, Steven thought, were initiative and a willingness to work hard—and he was chock-full of both.

The long path that had brought him to America hadn’t been easy, though. He’d been born Kim Seung-Whan to Korean parents in Seoul, South Korea, in 1949, just a year before the outbreak of the Korean War, and had grown up in a world full of violence, poverty, and hunger.

Seung-Whan’s father, Kim Ki-Hong, was from Sineuju, a lumber town on the northwestern border across the Yalu River from China, and had spent his youth in the town of Sariwon. After high school, Ki-Hong went to Japan to study photography, and he later moved to China and opened a studio in Beijing, where he lived for over ten years, earning a respectable income as a well-regarded photographer.

During the Second World War, Ki-Hong joined the Chinese Army to fight the Japanese, whose brutal, genocidal occupation of Korea had lasted thirty-five years, since 1910. When the war ended, he was still relatively young, and his army service earned him the freedom of travel. He chose to return to his “liberated” homeland in the north.

Ki-Hong arrived in Sariwon expecting to help build a new, free Korean society. With the 1945 division of the once-unified country at the 38th parallel, however, he found that one occupying force—the Japanese—had been replaced by another: the Soviets. Conditions were just as repressive as they had been under Japanese rule, in some ways even worse. Many of the Soviet soldiers stationed in North Korea had been criminals and prisoners. Now, disdainful of what they saw as a subhuman foreign populace and free to act on even their grossest desires, they rampaged through the towns and countryside, taking what they liked; raping women and young girls, often in front of their parents, husbands, and children; and pillaging family homes and property. Anyone who protested their behavior was mercilessly beaten or executed on the spot.

Ki-Hong had never considered himself a communist or espoused an overtly political position, but neither had he been averse to the philosophy. Now, however, his hatred of the occupation forces caused him to despise all communists, and he did so with a vengeance, not making a distinction between Soviets and Chinese. He helped organize an underground resistance group called Young Friends against Soviet Soldiers, comprised mostly young North Koreans, whose goal was to protect the citizenry and fight against the new army of foreign invaders. Every night, they went out into the streets to search out isolated Soviet soldiers to kill and confiscate their weapons.

Ki-Hong was one of the leaders of the emerging grassroots resistance, but his position was difficult to keep secret. Other members of the community became aware of his role, and within months, an infiltrator in the Young Friends exposed him publicly and informed the Soviets of his identity. Suddenly Ki-Hong was on the run, a wanted man, facing sure execution if apprehended. Only with the help of a few trusted friends was he was able to disappear, eluding the search and, in 1946, escaping to South Korea.

When he arrived in Seoul, Ki-Hong sought out like-minded activists. Still filled with hatred for the Soviets in the north, he searched for the most anti-communist group he could find and eventually joined the influential West-North Youth League.

As he had in the north, Ki-Hong helped direct the anti-communist campaign. But he no longer needed to conduct his activities underground, since he had the support of the South Korean government. He and his fellow activists searched the country for communist sympathizers and North Korean agents. Eventually, his role was formalized, and after the war he joined the South Korean police. Now it was his job to arrest communists and send them to prison. Fluent in Korean, Chinese, and Japanese, he soon rose to the rank of detective, and he remained there until his retirement.

Ki-Hong soon met and married a South Korean woman, Hong Do-Won. And on April 17, 1949, in Seoul, the couple celebrated the birth of their first child, a son, named Seung-Whan.

One of Seung-Whan’s few early or happy memories of his father was riding on the back of his motorcycle down a dusty city street. But Ki-Hong never really committed to either his wife or his child. They rarely ate or enjoyed activities as a trio, and the family didn’t hold together for very long. In 1956, when Steven was six, his father left to live with another woman.

For the next six years, until Ki-Hong returned for good, Do-Won was without her husband or the benefits of his income; he didn’t send them anything or stay in touch. As a single mother without other means of support, she was forced to work long hours in the nearby textile mills to keep herself and her son housed, clothed, and fed.

Ki-Hong’s mother, Grandma Hong In-Sung, remained a part of their lives. A proud woman of strong Christian faith, she looked after Seung-Whan’s religious upbringing, taking him to church and Sunday school every week. When he was sick, or pretending to be, he might miss school, but he never missed church; his grandmother would go so far as to carry him there on her back, if she had to. After the war, he later remembered, she would always iron paper money for him to place in the offering basket, even when times were lean.

Despite the witness of Grandma In-Sung, church was more a social opportunity than a spiritual experience for Seung-Whan. He had been born into a Christian family and had attended worship services for as long as he could remember, so he didn’t feel as if there was anything more for him to learn; he just practiced without thinking. Unlike the many South Koreans who converted to Christianity during and after the war, Seung-Whan was hardly conscious of the tenets of his faith; being a Christian was just like being a member of a family, in his eyes—a birthright, not a belief. His converted friends had to learn about who Jesus was and what He had taught—for them, a whole new philosophy—but Seung-Whan never really thought about those things. They were automatic, routine.

“I didn’t know Jesus Christ personally,” he said years later. “‘Jesus Christ—oh yeah, I believe in Jesus Christ,’ I always said, but inside I didn’t really know who He was.”

At age fifteen, Seung-Whan sang in the church choir and helped teach Sunday school, but he wasn’t moved by the services or inspired by the knowledge the ministers passed down; he didn’t feel anything inside. As he grew older, he continued to tithe money to the church, but in his life outside, he did whatever he wanted, not treating Sundays—let alone any other day of the week—as God’s.

Like all South Korean children, Seung-Whan learned English in school and developed a steadfast belief in “the land of the free.” He pushed himself hard in his lessons and made friends with American officers serving as volunteer teachers. To him, the United States was both a land of opportunity and a refuge from communist oppression.

In the early 1960s, when the Vietnam conflict had expanded into a full-fledged battle between the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese government and the communist north, South Korea provided the second-largest contingent of foreign troops. Never having left Korea, Seung-Whan was desperate to see the world, but no one could travel abroad without fulfilling his compulsory military duty. And so, immediately upon graduating, Seung-Whan enlisted with the Korean army, along with 320,000 of his compatriots.

Despite having grown up in a war-torn land, his youthful exuberance blinded him to the dangers of fighting. As luck would have it, he landed a job in the Educational Department of the 36th Regiment of the South Korean Army’s Operational Command Post, where he was tasked with preparing annual education timetables for the entire regiment. Although he was safe in his position, he was restless; he wanted to fight. Four times he applied for a transfer to combat duty, hoping to join the American forces on the ground in Vietnam. His job was vital to the regiment, though, and not everyone had the ability do it, so none of his four applications were supported or forwarded by his commanding officer. Seung-Whan was destined to serve his nation from the peaceful security of operational headquarters.

Upon completion of his term of duty, Seung-Whan returned to civilian life and decided that he wanted to go back to school. He’d always excelled in academics, and he knew that a degree could serve as a gateway to a more fulfilling life. To his disappointment, however, he wasn’t able to afford the tuition, nor could he obtain a scholarship to help cover the expenses. So, he accepted a paid position as tour director with church-run cultural youth group.

Seung-Whan enjoyed his job coordinating appearances for the young performers, and it satisfied his appetite for travel, but it still wasn’t what he was looking for in terms of a career. He wanted to succeed financially—to earn “real” money. This, he decided, should be his main focus. And so, after considering the best places in the world to launch a prosperous career, he weighed his options and turned his attention to his capitalist dreamland: the United States.

When Seung-Whan arrived in New York, the Korean and Vietnam wars were over, the last of the American troops having been lifted out of the chaos of Saigon just weeks earlier. The world was entering a new, modern age, based on the evidence all around him, and New York would be the center of global commerce—it was the place to be. He could hardly believe his good fortune as he set foot on U.S. soil for the first time. He had even adopted an English name to fit his new identity—Steven Kim. And he felt sure that nothing could hold him back.

Steven’s most pressing challenge was money—he was practically broke. With just a few bills in his pocket and not a penny more to his name, he needed to find a job immediately, that very day. Whatever work he could find, he told himself—whatever he was offered—he would do. I’ll do anything, he decided as he passed through customs. If I don’t work, I’ll die.

Fortunately, Steven had a contact—a high school friend who had come to the States a few years before and, like so many other Korean immigrants in New York since the beginning of the 1970s, opened a fresh produce store.

In 1960, only around four hundred Koreans lived in New York City, many of them students at Columbia University. By the end of the decade, however, Koreans had become the fastest-growing ethnic group of small-business owners in America’s largest metropolitan area.

Early on, the Koreans mostly sold wigs and other Korean-made goods or subcontracted in the garment industry. Then, first in the poorer minority neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, Koreans began buying up grocery stores from their American owners, who were retiring at an increasing rate. They also set up shop in vacant, abandoned buildings. Many of these entrepreneurs had come from Korea with experience managing or working in small retail outfits. Now, grocery stores, produce shops, and fruit stands owned and run by recent immigrants from Korea were sprouting up weekly on almost every block and street corner in the residential districts of Manhattan. Some of these businesses operated around the clock seven days a week to take full advantage of the “City That Never Sleeps.”

Without question, Steven was ready and willing to do his part. Before the sun had set on his first day in New York, he had a job selling fruit and vegetables in his family friend’s produce shop in Massapequa, on Long Island, just an hour’s train ride east of Manhattan.

The next morning, the owner walked Steven through the shop, pointing out bins and crates brimming with unfamiliar produce. “What’s this long green thing?” Steven asked in Korean. “What do you call that red one?” He was practically bursting with questions and nervous enthusiasm. He could barely wait to start.

“You have your work cut out for you,” the owner said. And he was right. But Steven didn’t mind hard work. Neither did he mind getting up before dawn to prepare the store for opening, nor staying late into the night, long after the last of the evening customers had returned home, to shut it down. He quickly learned almost all of the hundreds of names for the fruits and vegetables for sale in America, and it didn’t take long for his English to improve enough for him to converse comfortably with Korean and American customers alike.