On May 20, 1938, a young man from the Bronx informs his parents that he is leaving for the Catskills to begin his new job as a waiter. Instead, he sails for Europe to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, the opening round in the fight against Hitler and Mussolini. The man, Dave Lipton—the author’s uncle—sends letter after letter home detailing his hopes and begging for forgiveness. He never receives a reply.
Decades later, Eunice Lipton stumbles upon clues for this silence, uncovering details of Dave’s exhilarating political life in New York, his shuttered romantic life, and his deep friendship with another volunteer. A Distant Heartbeat: A War, a Disappearance, and a Family’s Secrets tells a tale of passion and heroism, centered on a fierce competition between brothers, a packet of missing letters, and the unforeseen results of family betrayal.