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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, Red Hands by Colin W. Sargent is a true-life tale that spins readers into the pleasures, excesses and horrors of late 20th-century Europe, and falling under the spell of a cult of personality.
Fleeing a bloodthirsty Romanian populace hell-bent on executing anyone with the Ceausescu name, Iordana Ceausescu and her young son wound up in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, on the doorstep of writer and publisher Colin W. Sargent. Iordana put her life in Sargent’s hands, and soon, she put her remarkable life story in his hands too.
Her story is a cautionary tale, and while it focuses on her personal experience of getting involved with a dictator’s family, it represents a whole country. The more I listened to Iordana, the more I realized it was a horror story. If we’re not careful, we can all get seduced and then destroyed by the nightmare.
As much as Iordana must tell her tale, she finds the telling excruciating. She feels shame as she recounts the speedboats, designer wardrobes, exclusive access to Western culture via television and a private home theatre, and the mansions and gardens with staff enough to have a caretaker for her pet lamb.
–Colin W. Sargent
Sargent went on to protect Iordana’s and her son’s secret for several years, learning their remarkable history by conducting hundreds of hours of unique interviews. He read newspaper accounts from the time, watched Iordana’s favorite movies and listened to her favorite music to construct the framework for his powerful book based on her life, Red Hands.
Red Hands is a true-life tale, told in Iordana’s own voice, that spins readers into the pleasures, excesses and horrors of late 20th-century Europe, following her life from falling in love with, to marrying and ultimately becoming estranged from, the Romanian dictator’s son.
Nicolae Ceausescu mismanaged Romania’s money and plunged the country into crippling debt and chaos. Babies were torn from their parents and relocated to education/work farms, and countless citizens didn’t survive. Those who did were in a rage and plotted to storm the city. As Iordana’s marriage crumbled, and the Ceausescu dictatorship was overthrown by starving citizens with nothing to lose, Iordana was forced to find a way to keep herself and her young son alive against all the odds.
We’re learning in so many ways that there is no ‘them. This story is about all of us. We’re all susceptible to falling under the spell of a cult of personality.
–Colin W. Sargent
Colin W. Sargent
Founding editor and publisher of Portland Magazine, Colin W. Sargent, Ph.D. is a novelist, playwright and poet who teaches writing at The College of William and Mary. In addition to Red Hands, he is the author of The Boston Castrato and Museum of Human Beings. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he has an MFA from Stonecoast and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Lancaster University in the UK.
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