Caribbean-American Author Memorializes Father with Fictionalized Memoir

William Herbert turns father’s story of risk and reward into first novel
Caribbean-American Author, William Herbert Memorializes Father with Fictionalized Memoir

William G. Herbert

DETROIT William Herbert realizes his life is a product of the gambles and sacrifices made by his father as a young man. In the face of relentless discrimination and under the threat of deportation, the senior Herbert never stopped reaching for his dream and building a life for himself in America.

Now, his son recounts his life journey in the fictionalized memoir “A Place Near the Front.”

In 1915, William Herbert, better known as Gordon, boards the SS Mariposa hoping for a life beyond what his homeland of Trinidad can provide. Despite the danger of deportation, Gordon jumps ship in New York and shelters in the streets of Harlem. He faces discrimination as both a black man and an immigrant when he enlists at Howard University before joining the Buffalo Soldiers in World War I.

“My dad passed away when I was 18, but he shared with me and my siblings many stories of his life as an immigrant in the U.S.,” Herbert said. “Unfortunately, he died before he could tell me all the details of his life so I filled in the remaining pieces based on my own insight. A Place Near the Front is a testament to my father’s commitment, sacrifices and the love he had for the U.S.”

Whether it’s dealing with the mob that chases him through New York’s Hell Kitchen, battling German soldiers or facing his most insidious enemy—his own military commanders who resent black officers—Gordon never stops reaching for his dreams.


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