JPer pens historical fiction novel

Sam Allis, a Jamaica Plain resident and prolific journalist, has released his first book, a historical fiction novel titled “A Hero of Two Worlds.”

The novel follows the life of its protagonist, Rufus Trask, along a revolutionary journey from Italy to the United States in the middle of the 19th century. Trask, an American sculptor living in Italy, is a young freedom fighter in the French siege of Rome.

“Trask is a republican and roots for the underdog,” Allis said. “He’s willing to die fighting for a good cause.”

The story takes you through Trask’s days fighting for the republic of Italy, seeking refuge in a remote Italian village, back to Rome and ultimately to the United States, which was having its own Civil War. The protagonist, a fictional character based on research, fights passionately in both wars, ultimately winning him the title “a hero of two worlds.”

The title of the book comes from a nickname of the historical figure Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian general who is famous for playing a part in Italy’s history. Garibaldi was known as “the hero of two worlds” because of his military endeavors in Europe and South America.

“I’m a complete Civil War loon,” Allis said. “So in this book, I essentially married two of my favorite things,” he said, referring to the histories of the American Civil War and Italian history.

Allis majored in Italian history at Harvard University and spent several periods of his life living in Italy. To complete this book, he spent months researching at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

“It was hard work finding out the small details,” Allis said. “What did the restaurants look like at the time? What were the hotels like? Where did people go for day trips?”

His submissions to publishers were rejected because the industry professionals thought the book wouldn’t sell since historical fiction isn’t a popular genre, especially this period in Italian history. Allis, however, felt that the book was worthwhile and appealing to those interested in Italy and in an adventurous fiction, so he self published the book through Amazon.

Allis spent his almost 40 years working at many newspapers and traveling to many parts of the world. Most notably, he is known for his work as a correspondent for Time magazine and a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Boston Globe.  Having retired from a long career in journalism in June 2011, Allis took this book on as his project. Allis now lives in Jamaica Plain with his wife, Barbara.

“Fiction lives up to its reputation as the hardest thing in the world to write,” Allis said. “It’s brutal–but I love the discipline. I can’t unscrew a light bulb, but I can write.”

Allis plans to begin working on a new book in January, which should be “more contemporary, with (his) wise-ass column voice.”

“My next book won’t require as much research as this one!” Allis said.

For more information about Sam Allis or to purchase “A Hero of Two Worlds,” visit

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