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Historical fiction novel “A Place Near the Front” discusses the coming-of-age-story of author’s immigrant father and his service in World War I


Detroit, MI (December 12, 2016 –  Author William G. Herbert writes about the immigrant experience in America through the eyes of his father Gordon Herbert, in his first book, A Place Near the Front. His father, born on the island of Trinidad in 1897 and unable to find work after the collapse of the sugar industry, came to the U.S. in 1915 as a teenaged merchant seaman.  Facing discrimination as both a black man and an immigrant, the senior Herbert’s coming-of-age-story recounts his experiences as a newcomer to the U.S. and his service in World War I.

A Place Near the Front tells how Gordon grew up in Trinidad dreaming of bigger things, and takes a job as a merchant seaman aboard the SS Mariposa in January 1915.  He spends grueling nights shoveling coal in the boiler room, but also marvels at the ship’s electric lights, modern plumbing, radio, navigation devices, and comfortable passenger staterooms. Craving an opportunity to experience this new world, Gordon jumps ship in New York City even though he knows he could be deported, and slips into the streets of Harlem. He works his way through Howard University and ultimately makes his way to the trenches of World War I, serving as a second lieutenant with the Buffalo Soldiers. Whether it’s dealing with the mob that’s chasing him through the dangerous streets of New York’s Hell’s 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.

“Writing this book about my dad has been a labor of love,” says Herbert. “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 US. – initially as an illegal immigrant. 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. This book is a testament to my father’s commitment, sacrifices and the love he had for the U.S.”

A Place Near the Front (ISBN: 978-1-4917-8717-5) is available at all online booksellers and from, where visitors can get information on the book and the author, watch a short video about the book and download a free sample chapter.




Author Bio

A Detroit-area resident, William G. Herbert has had a long career in computer science and engineering and served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army. Born in Harlem to a West Indian father and an African-American mother, Herbert credits his upbringing, time served in the military and his longtime membership in Alpha Phi Alpha, the nation’s oldest black fraternity (he sits on the executive board of the Detroit alumni chapter) for making him the person is today. Herbert is married with three daughters, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A Place Near the Front is his first novel.