REVIEW: A Thousand Shards of Glass by Michael Katakis (Review by John Purcell)

by |July 19, 2014

Click here for more details or to buy Thousand Shards of Glass

I loved this little book. A finished copy was recently given to me by Simon and Schuster Australia.

I get sent a lot of books but I suspect this one was chosen for me the reader not me the bookseller. Whoever thought to send it probably guessed I would love it.

Michael Katakis, who I have never heard of before, now feels like an old friend. Reading his short (144 pages), hard-bound book of essays, letters, quotes, one poem and snippets from conversations about the US with people he met outside America, I became engaged with the world again. His conclusions about the US have a ring of truth to them. His love of life in the face of tragedy is heroic. He has loved and has been loved in a way which will make others envious.

It is by no means a perfect book. It is human. Approachable. It invites conversation and asks you to walk with it.

I was angered, saddened, enriched and inspired by this book. Thank you, Michael (and the thoughtful folk at Simon and Schuster).

Blurb: Once upon a time, Michael Katakis lived in a place of big dreams, bright colours and sleight of hand. That place was America.

One night, travelling where those who live within illusions should never go, he stared into the darkness and glimpsed a faded flag where shadows gathered, revealing another America. It was a broken place, bred from fear and distrust – a thousand shards of glass – filled with a people who long ago had given away all that was precious; a people who had been sold, for so long, a foreign betrayal that finally came from within, and for nothing more than a handful of silver.

These essays, letters and journal entries were written as a farewell to the country Michael loves still, and to the wife he knew as his ‘True North’. A powerful and personal polemic, A Thousand Shards of Glass is Michael’s appeal to his fellow citizens to change their course; a cautionary tale to those around the world who idealise an America that never was; and, crucially, a glimpse beyond the myth, to a country whose best days could still lie ahead.

Photograph © Ralph Elliot Starkweather

Photograph © Ralph Elliot Starkweather

About the Author

Author and photographer Michael Katakis has travelled extensively for the past thirty-five years, writing about and photographing a wide range of cultures and geographic locations. His books include Photographs and Words with Dr Kris Hardin, Traveller: Observations from an American in ExileThe Vietnam Veteran’s MemorialSacred Trusts: Essays on Stewardship and Responsibility, and Excavating Voices: Listening to Photographs of Native Americans. Katakis has exhibited his work at the British Library, the Royal Geographical Society in London and the International Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. In 1991 the National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C., acquired Michael’s portrait of Maya Lin for their collection.

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About the Contributor

John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for the last twenty years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Head of Product and Chief Buyer at

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