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Understanding Perry Cockerell's Work of Art

Updated on October 9, 2019
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Understanding A Private War by Perry Cockerell

1. What is your background and how did it inspire you to write the trilogy?

I am a trial and appellate attorney in Dallas, Texas having practiced 38 years. I am also a retired Navy intelligence officer serving 28 years in the Navy reserve and on active duty three times during Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

I ran across my name in Afro.com after an internet search and discovered that there was a Private Perry Cockerell, a black Army soldier from Mississippi, who served in France in Normandy during World War II. He was interviewed by Ollie Stewart, the first credentialed black foreign correspondent by the U.S. government to cover the Allied campaigns in Europe and Africa. I studied his life and originally tried to create a non-fiction book about him but ended up with a fiction book that followed the life of Ollie Stewart in part. 2. Tell me about the three books in the trilogy.

A Private War is a book with two independent story lines that merge in the middle of the book. The first story is about Andre and Booker from Alabama who join the Army and serve in Africa and Europe. Andre lost his family in a house fire after he and Booker were in the attic playing at a young age. Andre is helped by Sister Camille, a nun at a local Catholic parish that helps the young boy after losing his family. Andre is influenced by Sister Camille’s beliefs.

The second story line is about Oliver Smith, Tatiana Phillips and Cub Miller who are black reporters who are sent to Europe looking for stories of the contributions of the African American solider to World War II. They write dispatches back to their newspapers. Andre finds himself in trouble after accidentally shooting Booker in friendly fire and an investigation ensues where a prosecutor believes that Andre intentionally shot Booker as revenge for the fire at his home at young age. The three reporters have trouble covering his trial.

A Private War II is the sequel and follows Andre returning to work as a new journalist at the newspaper arranged for by Oliver Smith. Andre is visited by a war time friend who works with the FBI trying to bring down the KKK. Andre experiences regrets from his time in the service and questions why he was prosecuted. He suspects that his trial was racially motivated. He is affected by what he reads. After he falls and hits his head a dream sequence plays out in the book where researches racism in America and its origins and why he was put on trial. The book takes place during 1948 during the election of Truman and Dewey in the background. 3. How does Tatiana’s PTSD manifest itself? Without revealing too much of the book, Tatiana’s PTSD is dealt with in dream sequences based on the books that she reads. She reads several books by Ernest Hemingway and imagines she and the other journalists playing out roles in the books. She is obsessed with finding out the real story behind Sister Camille and the fire at Andre’s home that caused Andre’s strange testimony on the witness stand that resulted in his conviction in the first book.

4. How is Tatiana’s war a comedy, parody and satire?

Tatiana believes that Andre and the nun believe in an incorrect interpretation of the Bible by promoting what is referred to today as the Law of Attraction, where the universe brings you want you focus on.
Andre is being fed stories by an FBI source who reveals the existence of the Deep State which Tatiana says is false and conspiratorial.

The book includes another “play within a play” where the journalists are delivered a mysterious script that is supposed to be a joke but is a roadmap for the existence of the Deep State. Suddenly the plot of the play called “Fake News” takes over and becomes reality.

Tatiana reads Joan of Arc and realizes that she must rescue the Governor of Alabama from the Deep State who reports to Zoros who has ordered the invasion of Alabama by the Russians. Tatiana, a liberal journalist, saves the state by rescuing the deposed Governor, whom she personally detests and opposes in order to preserve the rule of law.

Here is a photo of P. Cockerell.
Here is a photo of P. Cockerell.

5. Tell me about how Todd Rundgren’s music plays into the book?

There are between 6 to 8 Todd Rundgren songs in each of the books that are printed with license agreements. The books are musicals and the songs were picked based on matching the meaning in the book.

6. How do these three books tie together?

All three of the books involve the effect of war on people, on the soldier and the journalists. The books question the concept of the Law of Attraction with Biblical principles, whether dreams are really reality and whether our world is created by what we focus on and call into question the media’s role in delivering news or promoting fake news. 7. Who is the target demographic for Tatiana’s War?

Tatiana’s War is political satire and should appeal to anyone interested in current politics and the role of journalism in providing stories or providing opinions.

8. Are you planning a sequel to the books?

No. I think the story has played out. I didn’t think there would be a sequel to A Private War and then I wrote the second book and then after that I couldn’t stop so I ended with Tatiana’s War.

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