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When the dust settles on a momentous election, many Americans will begin thinking about the holidays and the importance of family, friends and the people in their lives for whom they are most thankful.
That’s the spirit of Michael Savage’s first, truly non-political book, “Train Tracks: Family Stories for the Holidays”, which debuts today.
Savage, the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant, takes his readers on an engaging, thought-provoking journey back in time, to the Bronx of the late 1940s and early 1950s, beginning with a vivid portrayal of a train trip from New York City to Pennsylvania to visit relatives at Thanksgiving.
A New York Times bestselling author and top-rated talk host known to his listeners as a master storyteller, Savage describes the big hissing engines at Penn Station and the coal-fired steam-driven locomotive that bathed the cars in dense black smoke as it chugged through New Jersey.
“The big monstrous train” arrives at the station in Pennsylvania with a roaring, hissing stop, engulfing the entire platform in black smoke and white steam.
“I didn’t know if my relatives were there, because you couldn’t see anybody in that fog,” Savage writes.
“As the fog lifted, out of the fog came the big uncle and the smiling aunt and my smiling cousins. Oh my god, was that happiness.”
In an interview, Savage told WND that memory is “particularly graphic and vivid for me.”
The vignette encapsulates the book’s “celebration of family, home and tradition.”
Savage said his aim is to highlight the extraordinary in every “ordinary” person and show how everyone in a person’s life contributes in some way to a unique destiny.
“Ordinary people, if you actually bother to study their lives, can be very dramatic,” Savage told WND. “I don’t care who the person is. Having children, raising a family sounds boring. Trying to sustain it is not very boring at all. It’s quite a roller coaster.”
He emphasized that “Train Tracks” is more than about raising children.
“It’s about men and women in my childhood who looked ordinary from the outside, but who were not,” he said.
“If you passed these people on the street in New York in the ’50s, you wouldn’t have looked twice,” he explained. “They didn’t look like movie stars. They didn’t wear designer clothing or drive fancy cars. They were ordinary men and women, but their lives struck me as interesting.”
Savage’s show, “The Savage Nation,” is now broadcast from 9 p.m. to midnight, Eastern, via Cumulus Media Networks.
“Train Tracks” features a long list of bite-sized chapters that include “Setting a Peanut Man on Fire,” “Woodchuck Bill,” “Fat Pat & Tippy the Dog,” “Talking to a Bum About God” and “Slum Dialect.”
In “Slum Dialect,” Savage, who now speaks to millions of Americans each week, recalls how a teacher played a crucial role in helping him overcome his shame about public speaking.
“I was terrified when I was asked to give a speech,” he said, noting his language as a child was peppered with “dem and dose” and “dis and dat.”
He divulged his fears in a private conference with a speech teacher, who told him, “Don’t worry about that; just speak and eventually that will be forgotten.”
“Look at the influence a teacher can have,” Savage told WND. “What if he had been an elitist, anti-immigrant teacher or he hated kids from the slums?”
Instead of saying, “Don’t even bother speaking, you sound like a bum or a longshoreman,” this “college-educated young man, who knew what he was doing, was committed to educating boys from the wrong side of the tracks into becoming speakers.”
Savage’s immigrant, working-class father, who came to America from Russia at the age of 7 with no money and no English, looms large as a throwback figure who toiled with every ounce of his energy to take care of his family.
Savage’s father, he told WND, taught him that “work was sacred.”
“The man is judged by his work, not by his pleasure, he would say,” Savage remembered. “Instead of teaching me how to play golf or tennis, he taught me how to work.”
Savage noted there was no government for his father to fall back on.
“There was no social network where a person could slack off,” he said. “Now there is, and millions do. I mean, why work at a minimum wage job if with a little fudging, they can have not only their basic needs taken care of but far more than their basic needs?”
Increasing government dependency has diminished the “bread winner,” he said.
“There’s no bread winner anymore, the government is the bread giver,” Savage told WND.
Savage sees the love of family and the value of hard work in immigrant families today.
“The Hispanic families are very much how my family lived,” he said.
“It’s not all gang-bangers with tattoos on their neck,” he added. “I can extrapolate and say it wasn’t the mafia that represented the Italian people. There was a Jewish mafia who certainly didn’t represent the Jewish people.”
“I think at the end of the day, everybody wants a home with stability.”
“Train Tracks” is Savage’s 29th book.
He has written six non-fiction New York Times best-sellers, including “Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama’s Dream of the Socialist States of America,” “Trickle Up Poverty: Stopping Obama’s Attack on Our Borders, Economy, and Security,” “The Savage Nation,” The Enemy Within,” “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder,” “Political Zoo,” “Psychological Nudity: Savage Radio Stories” and “Banned in Britain.”
As WND reported, he has signed a deal with St. Martin’s Press for two new fiction thrillers.
Savage’s previous novel, “Abuse of Power,” was a New York Times bestseller last year. His next fiction book, “Time for War,” will be released in February. The new books are tentatively scheduled for 2014 and 2015.