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It’s 1944. Sauli Berglund watches from the edge of his property as ninety-six German POWs arrive at a work camp on Big Bear Lake. These young German soldiers, so full of life, so healthy, so very safe. And they would remain so. He watched them dodge no bullets. He watched them wipe no blood from their hands. He watched the tears they wouldn’t shed for the friends who wouldn’t die in their arms. Here, they were an ocean away from the battle. Here, they ate hot food every day. Here, they enjoyed their lives in the very place Sauli had raised his children. His mind sees a little boy, Ronnie, laughing, jumping off the dock into the cool water. “Ronald Berglund, Lieutenant, U.S.Navy,” the telegram had read. “Missing in action.” A father protects his children; that’s what a father does. He wraps his powerful arms around them pulls them against his chest where they’re safe. And as long as they are safe, so is he. But when they’re not? Three more telegrams will find the Berglund family before the war is over, but Sauli doesn’t know that yet. Nor does he know that Anni, his fiery daughter, will fall in love with a German POW or that someone close to the Berglunds will fan the flames of intolerance that threaten to engulf the community and harm Sauli’s family. What Sauli does know is that on the home front, in the Suomi Hills, there are no lengths to which he will not go to protect his family. Wars are not always fought on the battlefield; the combatants are not always soldiers. And telegrams are not always bad news.
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Doug grew up in Chicago, which is not at all accurate, but people from Hammond, Indiana, where he really grew up, think they’re from Chicago, as if Indiana is a Chicago suburb. In Vietnam during the war, Doug was exposed to Agent Orange. In 2006, he was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma, a cancer the Veteran’s Administration has recently included in their list of maladies resulting from such exposure. He has been cancer free since 2007. He attended Parkland College where he was first published in the college literary annual. Subsequently, he attended the University of Illinois as a geology major. In 1991, Doug and his wife, Trish, moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. They have recently moved from their home in St. Paul to a cabin on a tranquil, Minnesota wilderness lake in the Chippewa National Forest— though the winter months will find them closer to the equator. Two miles through the woods from their home in northern Minnesota, stand the ruins of the camp that was the inspiration for the Big Bear Lake POW Camp in the novel, “Telegram.” Doug and Trish enjoy nothing better than looking out over the lake from their porch swing and savoring the rich, historical flavors that mingle with the pine-scented air. Doug is currently at work on his next novel set in the wilderness town of Deer River, Minnesota at the turn of the 20th century.
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