Two of the most controversial events in the history of Vernon County, Wisconsin -the 1946 speech by Gerald L. K. Smith and the 1888 lynching of mass murderer Andrew Grandstaf (both events taking place in Viroqua, near the courthouse) are linked, psychologically, in this second novel by John H. Sime. In the process, a sweeping portrait of local and national history is provided.
Smith was a graduate of Viroqua High School, a spell-binding orator, and an American fascist and hate monger, who is still an inspiration to like-minded individuals. Grandstaffwas the illegitimate son of the fifteen-year-old daughter of a minister. His life was one of pain-his own and that he inflicted upon others.
Both men are taken on a surrealistic tour of their own histories by the spirit of another Wisconsin historical figure—Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright plays a role not unlike that of poet Virgil who took poet Dante on a guided tour of the afterlife. Numerous historical figures appear: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Huey P. Long, Father Charles Coughlin, Col. C.M. Butt, and Al Capone. Fictional characters, as well, are created to delve into the lives of both Smith and Grandstaff.