Monday, 5 May 2014

Luminis Books 2014 Spring Collection of Titles Blog Tour: Ghosts of Tom Joad by Peter Van Buren

A story about growth, failure, and redemption, Ghosts of Tom Joadtraces the rise of the working poor and the don’t-have-to-work-rich as it follows the fortunes of the protagonist Earl. A product of the post–Korean War era, Earl witnesses his parents’ kitchen table arguments over money—echoed in thousands of other Rust Belt towns—experiences bullying, relishes first kisses, and comes of age and matures as a man before the economic hardships of the 1980s and 1990s wear on his spirit. Earl takes his turn at a variety of low-paying retail jobs in the new economy before becoming mired in homelessness and succumbing to meth, alcohol, and destitution. As he takes a final, metaphorical bus ride, Earl reflects on his past, considering the impact of the war on his father—and, subsequently, on himself—his own demise, and the romance between himself and Angel, which ultimately redeems him. This is a tale about the death of manufacturing, the deindustrialization of America, and a way of life that has been irrevocably lost. Anyone interested in the impact of political and business policy on the American Dream will be drawn to this profound, humorous, and moving novel.


January 15, 2014
Media Contact:
Brian Buerkle, Publicist 


Van Buren Autopsies the 
American Dream in a 
Stunning New Novel
An absorbing look into the death of manufacturing, 
the deindustrialization 
of America,and a way of life lost for generations

Carmel, IN—“The longest day of my life started when accidentally I shot myself, went
downhill from there” is how Earl begins his story in Ghosts of Tom Joad, A Story of the
#99Percent  (Luminis Books, Spring 2014). It is Peter Van Buren’s newest project—
a fictionallook at the new American economy.

Ghosts of Tom Joad is about growth, failure and redemption. It is Earl’s story, tracing the rise
of the Working Poor, and the don’t-have-to-work rich. It is funny and serious,
Holden and Joe Dirt. It’s a question about how to still own something—your labor,
your self-respect—you’d sold.

The story takes place during Earl’s final metaphorical bus ride. Most of the folks who get on
the bus with Earl have been long missing. Now they are coming and going, even talking to him,
“just as if it was no big deal.” As Earl laments, “imagine running into both your mom and
your old girlfriends in living color.”
With notes of Woody Guthrie, John Steinbeck and their more modern counterparts Bruce Springsteen, Tom Morello and Rage Against the Machine, Ghosts of Tom Joad tells the story of a working class abandoned, still trying to create a better life for themselves, unaware that they are staking their futures on a myth.

Where did the 99% come from? They were always here, in Reeve, Ohio. This is their story.
“Politicians come and go, but the critical issues tearing at our society do not. In his new book, Ghosts of Tom Joad, Van Buren turns to the larger themes of social justice and equality, and asks uncomfortable questions about where we are headed.”

Daniel Ellsberg, whistleblower, The Pentagon Papers

Luminis Books was launched in October 2008 with a mission to publish meaningful fiction for
children and adults. As an independent publisher, Luminis has the opportunity to champion
excellence in fiction from new authors who might not get the attention of the larger houses.
Luminis Books is distributed by IPG.

For more information, to arrange an interview, or review copies, 


Peter Van Buren, a 24-year veteran Foreign Service Officer at the State Department, spent a year in Iraq leading two State Department Provincial Reconstruction Teams. Following his book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books), published in 2011, the Department of State began judicial and then termination proceedings against him, stripping him of his diplomatic credentials. Through the efforts of the Government Accountability Project and the ACLU, Van Buren instead retired from the State Department with his full benefits of service.

Prior to Iraq, Van Buren was assigned by the State Department to Taiwan, Osaka, London, Seoul, Tokyo and other locations in East Asia. He attended The Ohio State University, graduating with a B.A. in photography and an M.A. in Education. He also attended the Osaka University of Foreign Studies and the Hyogo (Japan) University of Teacher Education for post-graduate study.

Van Buren, along with other Federal whistleblowers like Tom Drake, John Kiriakou and Jesslyn Radack, is also working closely with Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker James Spione on a new film called SILENCED: Washington’s War on Whistleblowers, due out in 2014.

Van Buren speaks Japanese, Chinese Mandarin, and some Korean (his book’s all in English, don’t worry). Born in New York, he lives in Virginia with his docile Rottweiller.

To find out more about Luminis Books and their titles go to:

Check out the full Virtual Tour for Luminis Books 2014 Titles, go to

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