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Al Q. Gansee is driven by a naive vision that he can help create a blissful world of perfect equality, while also creating culinary masterpieces. After traveling the world on Cold War KGB missions, his silver tongue and silver spatula fuel his sudden rise to power in his tiny hometown of Southland Springs, Michigan. Accompanied by his wife and first cousin, his twin terror sons, and his Russian-born “left hand man,” he guides the quaint and quirky Socialist Union of Algansee during the tense years of 1961 and 1962. “I speak with your voice,” he tells them.
The small-town Communist dictator’s dazzling (and vaguely familiar) oratory and monthly Casserole Nights can only go so far. To overcome growing turmoil and discontent, Chief Comrade Gansee casts his vision on a plan to conquer tiny nearby Cambria, watched over by the blind and fiercely loyal Old Man Johnston. Will Gansee and his ragtag Revolutionary Guard succeed in spreading the joy of socialism to their unwilling neighbors, or will the sleepy town be able to fend off the attack from the “Red Devil”?
Follow Al Gansee’s army on its eastward trek to the Battle of Cambria. And follow Al Gansee’s quirky life as he and his closest companions wrestle with personal tragedy while brushing shoulders with the larger stage of world history. Find out how far the Chief Comrade’s political and culinary dreams will go, as he seeks to create a socialist utopia and, along the way, transforms a small town forever.
This work of fiction first emerged from the diversion of three bored Hillsdale College students on a gray Michigan Saturday in 1996. The author’s friends played the respective roles of driver and reluctant passenger, leaving him to assume the mantle of tour guide. The rest, as they say, is history. Sort of.