Saturday, October 5, 2019


The year is 2009 and America is on the brink of a second Great Depression.  Looking to avoid economic disaster an unethical think-tank called the Studebaker Institute of Washington, D.C. is advising the newly-elected President of the United States about the urgent need for the country to return to the gold standard. However, the stumbling block is where to find all the gold required to do so and estimated by Studebaker to be 900,000 metric tons.  
In the history of humankind only 130,000 metric tons of gold have been brought to the Earth’s surface. All of it amounts to a cube only 60 feet on each side.  After various meetings with the U.S. Geological Survey, Dr. R. Cinza Brown, the chief economist of the Institute is convinced by the Survey’s eccentric Dr. Benjamin “Pig” Lemkau that despite certain obstacles, the quickest solution is to harvest vast amounts of gold on Mars using high-yield thermonuclear warheads. 
But Archie Jefferson, a photocopier repairman at Studebaker, has accidentally discovered this government top secret project called Operation GERDA – Gold Extraction & Relocation for Defense of America - and involved his army buddy and fellow Vietnam War veteran Sam Noble through a careless act.  Samuel Lee Noble is a Senior Courier with the U.S. State Department soon approaching mandatory retirement age and has always wanted to write a book based on his many worldwide travels but has picked the wrong time and place.  
He sends over to Archie at Studebaker using inter-agency mail some of his first chapters which are then intercepted by Studebaker’s security staff setting off a chain of events that threatens the lives of Sam, Archie, and others in their wider circle.  Now the FBI is secretly investigating the whole affair because Sam, after a lifetime of procrastination, is finally writing about his favorite subjects including legends of lost civilizations, the Holy Grail hoax, Knights Templar, and by strange coincidence he has also picked gold to write about.  
The protagonist in Sam’s book is called Duke Mitchum, a name he simply invents by combining the names of this two all-time favorite actors John “Duke” Wayne and Robert Mitchum.  Sam loves old movies.  Sam and Archie are suspected by Studebaker and the FBI of being anarchists possibly belonging to a domestic terrorist cell with Duke being their clandestine ringleader.  
Sam though has the last laugh when he retires with his mystical Brazilian wife Nellie, part Nambiku√°ra Indian from the Amazon rainforest, to her native village called Campo Dourado where nearby he makes an amazing discovery of his own not far from where Theodore Roosevelt once explored the legendary River of Doubt in 1914.  It was that night of a waxing moon and spectacular meteor shower. 

(This is a work of fiction.  Although some real-world names, organizations, historical settings, and situations are used to enhance the authenticity of the story, any similarities to actual persons, organizations, or situations are coincidental and all portrayals are purely the product of the author’s imagination.  This is the second edition abridged version 2019.  First edition Copyright © 2006.  All rights reserved)

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