Ali Hassan, an Egyptian immigrant, has kept his story about his life in Egypt in the 1950s a secret for decades. In 2014, his American-born grandson Alex shocks the family by deciding not to attend college. Instead, he travels to the Middle East to do what he feels he must do by joining the holy war. In response to telling the family he is cutting off contact with them, his grandfather emails a request to him saying that if Alex keeps in touch with him he will share the truth about his past. Alex tentatively agrees and what follows is one of the most intriguing books I have ever read. Can Ali's story have the impact he hopes that it will? Will Alex understand the message?
Peter Blauner skillfully brings to life post-war Egypt while perfectly blending in the intricacies of Cecile B. DeMille's making of The Ten Commandments on location in PICTURE IN THE SAND. Ali manages to land the position of assistant to the famous director, but his life rapidly spins out of control. He becomes a victim of the times and faces a future of not his own choosing. Amid the political unrest, despair, and violence somehow romance and hope prevail.
There is so much about PICTURE IN THE SAND that makes it well worth reading. It is powerful, profound, and thought-provoking. Peter Blauner has created a truly unique reading experience. Highly recommended.
Peter Blauner's epic Picture in the Sand is a sweeping intergenerational saga told through a grandfather's passionate letters to his grandson, passing on the story of his political rebellion in 1950s Egypt in order to save his grandson's life in a post-9/11 world.
When Alex Hassan gets accepted to an Ivy League university, his middle-class Egyptian-American family is filled with pride and excitement. But that joy turns to shock when they discover that he’s run off to the Middle East to join a holy war instead. When he refuses to communicate with everyone else, his loving grandfather Ali emails him one last plea. If Alex will stay in touch, his grandfather will share with Alex – and only Alex – a manuscript containing the secret story of his own life that he’s kept hidden from his family, until now.
It's the tale of his romantic and heartbreaking past rooted in Hollywood and the post-revolutionary Egypt of the 1950s, when young Ali was a movie fanatic who attained a dream job working for the legendary director Cecil B. DeMille on the set of his epic film, The Ten Commandments. But Ali’s vision of a golden future as an American movie mogul gets upended when he is unwittingly caught up in a web of politics, espionage, and real-life events that change the course of history.
It's a narrative he’s told no one for more than a half-century. But now he’s forced to unearth the past to save a young man who’s about to make the same tragic mistakes he made so long ago.