The year was 1899, and Private David Fagen had a decision to make. He'd volunteered to serve in America's first overseas war to prove to the folks back home a black man's blood just as good as a white's when spilled fighting for Old Glory. Now, at the dawn of a new century, Fagen realized he was only a pawn in the white man's crusade for empire. Every time he pulled the trigger he helped enslave the people he came to liberate. In his world pandemonium ruled, anarchy the High Sheriff, and every way Fagen saw it his past was a blind alley and his future dead-ended.

Immersed in America's four-year pursuit of conquest and occupation in the Philippines, the young private was torn between loyalty to his country, his love for Clarita Socorro, the beautiful and mysterious guerilla fighter, and sympathy for her people's struggle for freedom. Unable to reconcile his participation in this violent clash of national wills and personal tragedy, Fagen defected and fought on the side of the Filipino guerillas, thereby making his mark on the history of two nations. 

Cousins of Color is an illusion-free exploration of an ugly period in America's past when obsession with racism dominated. ("Looks like Uncle Sam and Jim Crow arrived in the Philippines at the same time.")  Already flawed, the book's characters become victims of horrible circumstance rendering them irreparably damaged and beyond redemption. Does David Fagen's search for honor and justice in a world gone mad make him a hero or an archfiend? Free of morality lessons and consoling conclusions, Cousins lets the reader determine whether justice is served, whether things broken can be made whole.

Based on actual events, Cousins of Color is written with the attention to detail of Peter Burchard's One Gallant Rush (Glory) and the passion for humanity found in Barbara Chase-Riboud's Echo of Lions (Amistad). Not only a novel about American Imperialism and a metaphor for the black experience in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, Cousins strips bare the dark forces powerful enough to compel a man to sacrifice his country, dreams and aspirations to help another people gain freedom ("Men do not renounce their flag for light and transient reasons."). David Fagen's struggle for moral purpose brings focus to America's continuing obsession with conquest and racism and provides insight into many of today's prevailing sentiments.