Press Notes: Spy Thriller Creates Heat over Summertime

August 23, 2012

“An impressive first novel,” “a brilliant, exciting and profound spy tale,” “belongs on the bookshelf with John le Carré and Eric Ambler”—these plaudits and a number of others were for the spy thriller, Ministers of Fire: A Novel, published in late May by Swallow Press, the trade imprint of Ohio University Press. The first sign of this book’s critical success came in early spring, when Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and interviewed the author, Mark Harril Saunders. What followed into the summertime were reviews in places like the San Francisco Chronicle, Library Journal, Richmond Times-Dispatch, and, most recently, in The Washington Post.

Saunders himself was interviewed on a number of radio programs and on the publishing site Shelf Awareness. An op-ed he wrote relating to the book’s plot and current events appeared on The Huffington Post. And author events took place at notable stores such as The International Spy Museum and Politics and Prose, both in Washington, DC, as well as other locations in Virginia and Maine. Saunders will be participating in a book festival at George Mason University in September, joining a list of authors that includes Alice Walker, Neil Gaiman, and Michael Chabon. Ministers of Fire is now in its second printing and is available as a hardcover book at booksellers and online; e-book versions are also available from vendors such as Kindle.

— Jeff Kallet

Cover of 'Ministers of Fire'

Ohio University Press is the largest university press in Ohio, publishing 40–50 books annually on a variety of topics. These books carry the Ohio University name into the world, receiving national and international attention from leading scholarly journals, prominent review media, and prestigious award competitions.

Since April, Ohio University Press books and authors have appeared in the following media:

The Washington Post (“An incredibly rich reading experience”), African Studies Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Le Monde (“if one had to pick a single great book early this summer, it would have to be that of American historian Diana K. Davis”), The National (Abu Dhabi) (“Powerful”), Chicago Bar Association Record, Butterfly Gardener, The Journal of African History, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies (“a brilliant example of listening to one’s sources, rather than talking past them”), Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Charleston Gazette, Solidarity (“quite an accomplishment”), Victoriographies (“thorough and smart”), Huffington Post, The Hook (Charlottesville, VA), Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry, Barn Journal (“everything that a lover of traditional folk culture could desire”), Mid-American Review, WTJU-radio (Charlottesville, VA), Eclectica Magazine, Historia Agraria (Spain), Cincinnati CityBeat, Akron Life, Glencoe News, ForeWord Reviews, SirReadaLot.org, Ms. magazine, Examiner.com (“one of the more enlightening works that I’ve read this year), The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, NUACHT (Newsletter of the St. Patrick’s Society of Montreal) (“a stunningly beautiful coffee table book”), Ohioana Quarterly, San Francisco Chronicle, Journal of American History, Canberra Times, The Midwest Book Review, WTTW-TV’s “Chicago Tonight,” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, Canadian Journal of History (“makes the reader both intellectually and physically hungry”), Appalachian Heritage, Kentucky Living, Choice, News Letter (Belfast), Adams County Crossroads, The Hopkins Review (“It’s rather extraordinary that this is only his first book. It makes you joyful at his promise.”), Make: A Chicago Literary Magazine, Green Bay Press Gazette, Love of Quilting, WMRA-NPR, Missouri Prairie Journal, Acreage Life Magazine, Love of Quilting, International Journal of Intelligence Ethics.

Recently published titles from Ohio University Press:

Congress and the Crisis of the 1850s, edited by Paul Finkelman and Donald R. Kennon. This collection of nine essays in the Perspectives on the History of Congress, 1801-1877 series considers the looming “train wreck” of the Civil War that could be seen in various tensions during the 1850s decade.

Degrees of Allegiance, by Petra DeWitt. A fresh look at the German-American experience in the Midwest during WWI shows that German-Americans in Missouri were largely spared the hate crimes experienced by others in different parts of the country.

Violence: Analysis, Intervention, and Prevention, by Sean Byrne and Jessica Senehi. This book presents a multidisciplinary approach to the analysis and resolution of violent conflicts.

Dance of Life: The Novels of Zakes Mda in Post-apartheid South Africa, by Gail Fincham. Literary criticism that focuses on five novels Mda has written since South Africa’s transition to democracy. Fincham explores how refigured identity is rooted in Mda’s painterly imagination that creates changed spaces in memory and culture.

The Ontology of Becoming and the Ethics of Particularity, by M. C. Dillon, edited by Lawrence Hass. At the time of his 2005 death, Dillon—a world-leading Merleau-Ponty scholar—had nearly completed two books to which he was passionately committed. This volume in our Series in Continental Thought brings them both together under one binding.

Metaphor and the Slave Trade in West African Literature, by Laura Murphy. Murphy’s study examines the different ways in which African and African American writers acknowledge the slave trade in their literary works. “A timely and highly innovative work,” remarked the editor of the Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature.

Doctoring the Novel: Medicine and Quackery from Shelley to Doyle, by Sylvia A. Pamboukian. If nineteenth-century Britain witnessed the rise of medical professionalism, it also witnessed rampant quackery. Doctoring the Novel explores the slippery meaning of medical quackery and orthodoxy in works by Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Rule, by Catherine Higgs. This character-driven historical narrative tells how Cadbury Brothers Limited dealt with the claims, at the turn of the 20th century, that its cocoa was being harvested by slave labor. An Englishman named Joseph Burtt was chosen to investigate two Portuguese island colonies, which led to a longer journey into other parts of Africa.

Charity and Condescension, by Daniel Siegel. Charity and Condescension explores how condescension, a traditional English virtue, went sour in the nineteenth century, and considers the ways in which the failure of condescension influenced Victorian efforts to reform philanthropy and to construct new narrative models of social conciliation.

Indigenous Knowledge and the Environment in Africa and North America, edited by David M. Gordon and Shepard Krech III. Indigenous knowledges are often viewed, incorrectly, as pure and primordial cultural artifacts. This collection draws from African and North American cases to argue that the forms of knowledge identified as “indigenous” resulted from strategies to control environmental resources during and after colonial encounters.

Taifa: Making Nation and Race in Urban Tanzania, by James R. Brennan. This book shows how nation and race became the key political categories to guide both colonial and postcolonial life in Dar es Salaam.



  • Cover of ‘Congress and the Crisis of the 1850s’

  • Cover of ‘Degrees of Allegiance’

  • Cover of ‘Violence: Analysis, Intervention, and Prevention’

  • Cover of ‘Dance of Life: The Novels of Zakes Mda in Post-apartheid South Africa’

  • Cover of ‘Modernism and the Women’s Popular Romance in Britain, 1885–1925’

  • Cover of ‘Metaphor and the Slave Trade in West African Literature’

  • Cover of ‘Doctoring the Novel: Medicine and Quackery from Shelley to Doyle’

  • Cover of ‘Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa’

  • Charity and Condescension: Victorian Literature and the Dilemmas of Philanthropy’

  • Cover of ‘Indigenous Knowledge and the Environment in Africa and North America’

  • Cover of ‘Taifa: Making Nation and Race in Urban Tanzania’