The Flight of the Sorceress

The Flight of the Sorceress
Front and Back Covers

Monday, December 26, 2011


Scrounging around some old archives, I recently uncovered a stack of long-forgotten stone tablets hoarded by a Roman news junkie more than fifteen hundred years ago. For those readers not up on their ancient history, "Around the Empire" was the premier news organ of its day, bringing all the latest stories to the cognoscenti in every province. The tablets were pretty dusty but I was able to make out the headlines. Here they are:

(April 410 A.D.)

(August 410 A.D.)

(June 411 A.D.)

(April 415 A.D.)

(April 415 A.D.)

Read all about these stories and more in The Flight of the Sorceress.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Two for One Holiday Offer!

What will it take to put YOU between the virtual covers of a brand new e-copy of my new mystery/thriller, Burning Questions? All you have to do is buy a copy of The Flight of the Sorceress!

There’s murder, Russian roulette, burning hotels, Mafia, a NAZI general’s overcoat, a ghost town, witches, wild doggies, some sex, surfing, cops and donuts, crooked politicians and lawyers, some religion, a little bit of marijuana and pizza. It’s just the right length to read on a single plane trip across the country. Why settle for a crappy airline movie when you can read about all this good stuff? Part Two of this trilogy, A Shot in the Arm is coming up in April . Why not read part one first? Do you really want to be Left Behind?

Buy an e-book copy of Flight of the Sorceress from Amazon before Jan. 1, 2012 and I’ll give you a copy of Burning Questions free. So when you give that certain somebody that new Kindle this holiday season, they can have something to read on it. (Here's Amazon's "buy" link, Buy Sorceress get Burning Questions free! ) When Amazon sends you an order confirmation, email a copy to me at with the email address of the person to whom you want me to send the gift copy. I will send them a copy. That's it: two books for $5.95.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Interview with Barry Willdorf!

Inteview on Wild Child Publishing Blog

Today’s author interview spotlights Barry Willdorf.  Author of the Historical Novel, Flight of the Sorceress.
WCP: What was your inspiration for The Flight of the Sorceress?
I was visiting Bath, England a number of years ago and went to the ruined Roman baths where I picked up some literature that said that within three generations of the Romans leaving England the population didn’t even know what the baths were, much less how to run them. I was taken by how quickly a people could lose all science and history and basically return to virtual caveman status. How did that happen? I began to look into it and that gave me the history. But the trick was to personalize it --to relate the history through what I could imagine were similar to real lives. What were the forces that crushed knowledge? And how would a real person have experienced that?
WCP: Do you have any other genre you’d like to try your hand at?
I also write mystery/thrillers. I love noir. I was a trial lawyer for 40 years but I began my career as an investigator for the NYC Legal Aid Society. I was trained by a retired NYD police detective. We’d go out investigating criminal cases for the defense. We went to some really sketchy places, just the two of us, with his one .38 special. You would be crazy to do that today. A .38 isn’t enough firepower to go where we went. It was very noir. I got off on it. But over the years, I really got into forensic investigation ¾things like forged documents, different kinds of chemical tests, scientific evidence. Plus I got pretty good a cross-examination. Most of the stuff I write in that genre is inspired from cases I had over the years. I make a lot of it up but the nuggets are perfect background for mystery thrillers. 
WCP: Do you have any favorite authors? Or ones that have influenced you more than others?
I like Raymond Chandler for the ambiance. I like Dashiell Hammett for his spare stiletto-like writing. I have always been moved by Remarque’s novel, All Quiet on the Western Front. I like Jack London, the way he hits nerves.
WCP: Is there anything you would like the readers to take away from the story?
Absolutely. When zealots get into power, whether they be motivated by religion or a political philosophy that is basically intolerant, such as Nazism or Communism, the outcome will always be that disagreement will be viewed as treason or heresy. Dissenters will invariably be terrorized and eliminated. Their ideas will be eradicated. Eventually we will be pushed into a dark age. The best idea is to keep power out of the hands of people who can’t live with different opinions or beliefs. 
WCP: Now for some fun questions: What about writing life/being an author took you by surprise?
How much like a business it is. I HATE promotion. I hate having to sell my writing as if it were a product. I like the writing part. I love doing the research and learning stuff. I love making up stuff. But selling it? UGH!
WCP: If you could be any one, living or dead, who would you want to be? Why?
That’s a hard question. When I think about it, I tend to go for anonymity. Right there, you can’t get much of an answer can you? All the famous people, the one’s most people pick when they answer this question, have baggage. You get famous, people tend to fantasize you, love you, admire you, hate you. Who wants any of that? Probably I’d want to be someone none of us ever heard of. Like I’d be living in a tropical paradise, kind of like a Garden of Eden shtick. (But close by a good ski slope and not far from some really nice mellow surf. A caterer at your beck and call. Etc. etc. You know what I’m driving at.) And the best part would be that no one would really know you were there, so they wouldn’t move in next door and screw up all the fun you were having, knocking on your door asking to borrow a cup of your “sugar” or just your “sugar” forget the cup.
WCP: Any last words? Um, for the interview, that is. (grin)
YEAH, I would like everyone who reads this to buy my books for themselves and everyone they know. If they want to sell them for me, I wouldn’t say ‘no.’ I’ll even cut them in on the action, such as it is. I can get them wholesale. I have an “in” with the publisher.
My website:   A Gauche Press
Blog: The Flight of the Sorceress
 Wild Child Books by Barry Willdorf:

       Purchase link

Wednesday, December 14, 2011



“Pogrom”: an organized massacre of helpless people; specifically: a massacre of Jews. Yiddish, from Russian, literally, devastation. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) “Pogrom” signifies “the destruction of Jewish life and property --through a thuggish or thug-like encounter of organized mob violence and vandalism-- against Jewish individuals, shops, homes or businesses that were directly or indirectly supported or organized by the government” according to K.K. Brattman of the Holocaust Survivors and Remembrance Project.

When we think of a pogrom, what springs to mind is a frenzied mob whipped up by religious fanatic descending upon a Jewish community as local government authorities stand by watching. Because the Jews have been dehumanized, the mob believe they are doing God’s work and the killing, maiming raping, looting, burning and destroying of Jews and their worldly goods is justifiable.

Although the term pogrom is generally associated with massacres in Russia and the Ukraine, such anti-Jewish violence was not invented in 19th Century Eastern Europe. Similar incidents were common during the Middle Ages and particularly during the Crusades.But just how far back in history did this go?

In the course of eight years of research for my historical novel, The Flight of the Sorceress, I was able to find a prototype for the stereotypical Eastern European pogrom, the expulsion of the Jews from Alexandria, Egypt in 414 or 415 A.D. under the leadership of Saint Cyril. Though history records a number of massacres of Jews before that time, they all had aspects similar to the traditional behavior of plundering conquerors -- armies engaged in warfare or in its retaliatory aftermath. The virulent anti-Semitic religious justifications were absent. It was not until the church and state combined to form a Roman Catholicism under the auspices Emperor Constantine that the violence took on a decidedly anti-Semitic context with calls for ethnic cleansing. Before that time, state/religious-sanctioned claims of a Jewish pariah were not common. (The reader should be aware that when discussing the Roman Catholic Church, I distinguish the institution from the flock.)

Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chapter 47, describes the Alexandria pogrom of 415 A.D. thusly:

"Without any legal sentence, without any royal mandate, the patriarch (Saint Cyril), at the dawn of day, led a seditious multitude to the attack of the synagogues. Unarmed and unprepared, the Jews were incapable of resistance; their houses of prayer were leveled with the ground, and the episcopal warrior, after rewarding his troops with the plunder of their goods, expelled from the city the remnant of the unbelieving nation."

The foundation for this new kind of ethnic oppression, based upon an inferior status before God, began a century earlier, with Roman Emperor Constantine’s dissembling Edict of Milan in 313. A.D. by which he freed Christians from the brutal repression they experienced under the preceding emperors. But with this edict, Constantine actually began empowering a Roman Catholic Church, giving it the green light to vilify and harass Jews. And soon this cacophony of hate, preached from the pulpit began to dominate the public forum, laying the groundwork for further oppression.

From then on, anything but toleration prevailed for Jews in the Roman Empire. Soon after, others of Constantine’s Imperial decrees isolated Jews by prohibiting conversions to Judaism and banning inter-faith marriage, which often entailed conversion. He changed the Sabbath to Sunday. Later emperors restricted visitation of Gentiles to synagogues, barred repair of Jewish places of worship and instituted restrictions on Jews holding public office. Thus encouraged, by the latter half of the fourth century, CE, Roman Catholic bishops, such as John Chrysostom were spewing libels and hate against Jews that would rival anything Joseph Goebbels could crank out of his Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, such as: 

“[The Jews] are inveterate murderers, destroyers, men possessed by the devil... debauchery and drunkenness have given them the manners of pigs and lusty goats. They know only one thing, to satisfy their gullets, get drunk, to kill and maim one another. They murder their offspring and immolate them to the devil ...The Jewish disease must be guarded against. The Christian's duty is to hate the Jews.”

For this hate mongering, John Chrysostom was canonized and is still revered to this day as a saint. 

Though not as vituperative as Chrysostom, even St. Augustine got into the act. "Let them live among us, but let them suffer and be continually humiliated," he counseled. 

Originally brought to Alexandria Egypt as soldiers seven hundred years earlier, just before the pogrom of 415. A.D. the Jewish population of Alexandria was said to have numbered between 40,000 and 75,000 --one quarter of the city’s inhabitants. Jews enjoyed the civil rights of citizens as decreed by Augustus and as a guarantee their rights were engraved upon a tablet of brass mounted in a public space for all to see. But as in Spain in 1492, once the Roman Catholicism became the state religion, such “guarantees” became meaningless.

Early Roman Catholic accounts of the Alexandria pogrom read like NAZI propaganda.  
Socrates Scholasticus, the fifth century Roman Catholic historian claims that the expulsion of the Jews from Alexandria was provoked after a priest named Hierax shouted down a dance performance claiming it was blasphemous. Socrates claims that when Jewish audience-members complained Orestes, the city’s prefect, arrested and tortured Hierax. He writes that Saint Cyril… 

on being informed of this, sent for the principal Jews, and threatened them with the utmost severities unless they desisted from their molestation of the Christians. These menaces, instead of suppressing their violence, only rendered the Jewish populace more furious, and led them to form conspiracies for the destruction of the Christians. Having agreed that each one of them should wear a ring on his finger, made of the bark of a palm branch, for the sake of mutual recognition, they determined to attack the Christians on a certain night; and sending persons into the streets to raise an outcry that Alexander's church was on fire, they thus drew the Christians out in great anxiety and slew them readily distinguishing each other by their rings. At daybreak the authors of this atrocity could not be concealed; and Cyril going to their synagogue attended by an immense body of people, took it away from them, and driving the Jews out of the city, permitted the multitude to plunder their goods. Thus were the Jews, who had inhabited the city from the time of Alexander the Macedonian, expelled from it, stripped of all they possessed, and dispersed, some in one direction and some in another.”

Bishop John of Nikiu, an eighth century Copt, with little to support his account but the account of Socrates, embellishes further:

“(The Jews) added outrage to outrage and plotted a massacre through a treacherous device. And they posted beside them at night in all the streets of the city certain men, while others cried out and said: ‘The church of the apostolic Athanasius is on fire: come to its succor, all ye Christians.’ And the Christians on hearing their cry came fourth quite ignorant of the treachery of the Jews. And when the Christians came forth, the Jews arose and wickedly massacred the Christians and shed the blood of many, guiltless though they were. And in the morning, when the surviving Christians heard of the wicked deed which the Jews had wrought, they betook themselves to the patriarch. And the Christians mustered all together and went and marched in wrath to the synagogues of the Jews and took possession of them, and purified them and converted them into churches. … And as for the Jewish assassins they expelled them from the city, and pillaged all their possessions and drove them forth wholly despoiled.”

Not being completely satiated by their violent expulsion of Alexandria’s Jewish population, Bishop John delights in recalling how the Christian mob then went on to murder the Neo-Platonist librarian-philosopher, Hypatia. “They tore off her clothing and dragged her through the streets of the city till she died. And they carried her to a place named Cinaron, and they burned her body with fire.” (Other, more graphic versions recount that this mob -- the same frothing band that were at the vanguard of the pogrom -- actuality ripped her skin from her bones using broken clamshells while she was alive. There is no reason to suspect that she was the first such victim.)

It should go without saying that each of these surviving accounts comes down to us because the historian/propagandists were apologists for the institution that was the Roman Catholic Church. No other account would have been permitted to see the light of day and would more likely have been relegated to the fires. Indeed, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius I, it became a crime, punishable by forfeiture of all property to even possess written materials offensive to Christians. Many literate Roman citizens burned their entire libraries out of fear that their lands would be confiscated by Church stool-pigeons eager to enrich themselves by informing.

That Jews dared to fight back against the “menaces” of Archbishop Cyril, would, of course, render them the aggressors in these propaganda pieces. We are asked to accept that this pogrom only occurred because a few Jewish theatergoers complained about the disruption of a performance. And further, those Jewish complainers instigated the punishment of the Christian disrupter by a non-Jewish prelate.  However, the historical evidence shows that Cyril, from the moment he ascended to head the Alexandrian archbishopric campaigned to rid the city not only of Jews, but also of pagans and non-Catholic Christian sects. The ethnic cleansing of Alexandria was on his plate all along.

We are then asked to believe that despite the fact that armed and allegedly well-organized Jewish “assassins” were in the field and had successfully massacred Christians all that previous night, this brave Archbishop rallied his allegedly unprepared believers and lead them to victory. How he was able to manage the defeat of these well-armed Jews (many of whom had military experience)  even as his followers were simultaneously being slaughtered by them is never explained by the Roman Catholic chroniclers. Both Socrates and Bishop John are equally silent on how Cyril was able to burn every synagogue in town within a few morning hours without encountering resistance.

Gibbon, again in Chapter 47 of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, dismisses this nonsense.

“Having purged the official Church of Alexandria of its dissenting minority, (Saint) Cyril next targeted the Jews. This numerous community, he decided, should be expelled from the city and the privileges, which they had enjoyed for seven hundred years, since the time of Alexander the Great, rescinded. Without any legal sentence, without any royal mandate, the patriarch, at the dawn of day, led a seditious multitude to the attack of the synagogues. Unarmed and unprepared, the Jews were incapable of resistance; their houses of prayer were leveled with the ground, and the episcopal warrior, after rewarding his troops with the plunder of their goods, expelled from the city the remnant of the unbelieving nation."

The evidence is overwhelming that what occurred in Alexandria in 415 A.D. was a quintessential pogrom instigated by a virulent anti-Semitic zealot who was canonized for his ethnic cleansing, just as John Chrystostom was canonized for his hate-mongering. Each of them remains sanctified despite the blood on their hands.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Egypt - The Vortex

As told in Sorceress, the Dark Ages begin when religious zealots murder of Hypatia in Alexandria in the year 415 A.D.  Their reasons? She was pagan and an independent woman. They were Christians then. Today, Alexandria is predominantly Muslim, and religious parties are set to take power. Do they have the same mindset as Hypatia's murderers? What can we expect from the new Egyptian paradigm? Read Arab Spring-Islamist Winter at A Gauche Press