The best fiction books featuring uniquely fantastic, yet possible heroic skills

Why am I passionate about this?

Life is pretty dull without passion. Since early childhood I was attracted to Chinese philosophy, then to all the cultural aspects that reflect it. At the same time, I felt the blood in my veins drawing me to ancestral roots. Learning about other cultures helps us learn about our own. I’ve been driven by sympathy for the immigrant experience, the suffering, and sacrifices made for a better, peaceful life. What prepared me to write Wuxia America includes my academic studies, living and working in Asia, and involvement in martial arts. My inspiration for writing stems from a wish to encourage ways to improve human relations.


I wrote...

Wuxia America: The Timely Emergence of a Chinese American Hero

By Michael A. DeMarco,

Book cover of Wuxia America: The Timely Emergence of a Chinese American Hero

What is my book about?

Wuxia America’s plot is spiced like a Chinese herbal recipe. The main character is a Chinese American doctor, Dr. Lou, who becomes the target of an international criminal ring. The FBI’s meetings show the significance of this case. Dr. Lou proves vital to the investigation. He insights stem from his familiarity with his ancestors’ experience as immigrants to California at the start of the gold rush period.

A cast of robust characters animate this fascinating blend of history and mystery—a story that involves the reparation of bones to China, gold, guns, and greed. Alongside the activities of evildoers, is a love story of Dr. Lou and his family and friendships. Dr. Lou defines what it means to be a modern wuxia, “martial hero.” 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Manchu

Michael A. DeMarco Why did I love this book?

I loved Elegant’s book because he included a highly detailed account of the period, an account only possible by a top China scholar.

Manchu is a fictional work set within a vivid history of 17th-century China when the Manchus from northeast Asia battled native Han Chinese causing the fall of the Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644). The great conflict is brought to life in a personal way, including the interactions of heroic characters, Eastern and Western. The result highlights varied perceptions of politics, warfare, and social relations. 

I appreciate Elegant’s blend of academic precision and detail with creative storytelling to make history so interesting. He encases facts in an emotional plot. Elegant is a master wordsmith who stimulates thought, valuable for understanding the Manchu period as well as individual introspection. 

By Robert S Elegant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Manchu as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A young, exiled British mercenary plays out his fortunes against a rich, exotic tapestry of love and warfare as China's last glorious Ming dynasty falls to the northern Manchu hordes


Book cover of Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad

Michael A. DeMarco Why did I love this book?

The Chinese American presence in the USA started with the gold rush and the building of the transcontinental railroad.

It was a blessing to find Chang’s non-fiction work because he utilized a tremendous about of research to accurately cover the book’s topic. I’m also grateful that his writing style is not dull.

Building a railroad trestle through the High Sierra mountains in winter implies work conditions that affect laborers as well as investors. Chang strings the human sentiments throughout the history of those who participated in noble fashion, Chinese and non-Chinese alike.

In portraying the Chinese experience, Chang’s book as underscores how vital the transcontinental railroad was to the development of America. 

By Gordon H. Chang,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ghosts of Gold Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Gripping . . . Chang has accomplished the seemingly impossible . . . He has written a remarkably rich, human, and compelling story of the railroad Chinese.” — Peter Cozzens, Wall Street Journal

WINNER OF THE ASIAN/PACIFIC AMERICAN AWARD FOR LITERATURE 
WINNER OF THE CHINESE AMERICAN LIBRARIANS ASSOCIATION BEST BOOK AWARD

A groundbreaking, breathtaking history of the Chinese workers who built the Transcontinental Railroad, helping to forge modern America only to disappear into the shadows of history until now

From across the sea, they came by the thousands, escaping war and poverty in southern China to seek their fortunes in…


Book cover of Between Salt Water and Holy Water: A History of Southern Italy

Michael A. DeMarco Why did I love this book?

My grandparents were from southern Italy. Over the years, I had always wanted to learn about the area, its history, and culture. Even in the Italian language, there is a lack of any quality publications dealing with the south.

Finally, a book was published in 2005 filling this gap—Astarita’s book is praiseworthy for its in-depth coverage of south Italy. Rather than scavenging together hundreds of books and articles for information, there came this main reference work.

Written by Astarita, a professor at Georgetown University, it is a scholarly work. It doesn’t read like a novel, but the thoroughness brings out the character of the people and their contributions to Italian and world culture. I praise the author for bringing this important topic out of obscurity to world attention.

By Tommaso Astarita,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Between Salt Water and Holy Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The history of southern Italy is entirely distinct from that of northern Italy, yet it has never been given its own due. In this authoritative and wholly engrossing history, distinguished scholar Tommaso Astarita "does a masterful job of correcting this error" (Mark Knoblauch, Booklist). From the Normans and Angevins, through Spanish and Bourbon rule, to the unification of Italy in 1860, Astarita rescues Sicily and the worlds south of Rome from the dustier folds of history and restores them to sparkling life. We are introduced to the colorful religious observances, the vibrant historical figures, the diverse population, the ancient ruins,…


Book cover of The Chinese in America: A Narrative History

Michael A. DeMarco Why did I love this book?

The life and writings of Iris Chang portray a woman with a passion for learning about her cultural heritage. Like a soldier, she gave her life in the pursuit.

The Chinese in America brings into focus just how it was for early Chinese immigrants to live in this land and their place in America today. The book not only sheds light on the Chinese American experience, but indirectly on all immigrant groups as well.

I value Chang’s encompassing work enlightening for understanding Chinese Americans as much as for understanding my own heritage.

By Iris Chang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Chinese in America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A quintessiantially American story chronicling Chinese American achievement in the face of institutionalized racism by the New York Times bestselling author of The Rape of Nanking

In an epic story that spans 150 years and continues to the present day, Iris Chang tells of a people’s search for a better life—the determination of the Chinese to forge an identity and a destiny in a strange land and, often against great obstacles, to find success. She chronicles the many accomplishments in America of Chinese immigrants and their descendents: building the infrastructure of their adopted country, fighting racist and exclusionary laws and…


Book cover of History of the Kingdom of Naples

Michael A. DeMarco Why did I love this book?

Benedetto Croce was an Italian historian, politician, and, above all, a philosopher.

I read his book on the History of the Kingdom of Naples to better understand south Italy. It is evident that he made great effort to gather his references and his presentation is well-organized and very scholarly. What made the book a pleasure to read, and brought great admiration for Croce, is how he writes history with a human focus.

While other historians often write by covering the grand elements such as battles, social changes and economic development, Croce looks at all these aspects as products of human character and their ethical and moral principles. Reading this book was an important turning point for me, especially as a writer.

In the end, writers are influencers of culture and in large part responsible for cultivating human character. 

By Benedetto Croce,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked History of the Kingdom of Naples as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

RED CLOTHBOUND HARDCOVER- PUBLISHED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS-1970-THIS TRANSLATION BASED ON THE 6TH EDITION-1965-WRITTEN BY BENEDETTO CROCE


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Book cover of Liddy-Jean Marketing Queen and the Matchmaking Scheme

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