It happened forty years ago. Part of the story was kept secret until 2003. Another part of the story was not known until 2009. Now the story can and will be told. Within a couple of weeks Sunbury Press will release Fireproof Moth in paper where prepublication orders are now being taken.
In the Foreword, Richard Kagan, a specialist in East Asian Studies, writes
The book reveals how Milo and [his former wife] Judith successfully and secretly organized the escape of Peng Ming-min from Taiwan. Peng’s importance in the Taiwan Independence movement is seen on the island as a struggle similar to that of South African political prisoner Nelson Mandela. The Thornberrys were Peng’s closest foreign friends, and they met regularly with him and other dissidents. When they discovered that his life was in danger, they spirited him out of the country, which created an international incident...
But Milo’s memoir is much more than the story of personal danger involving secretive escape and loss of the freedom to travel out of America to foreign shores. Like a Graham Greene novel, the plot is a vehicle for a philosophical and spiritual journey...
Milo has created a document that should become a classic in both the realm of the missionary experience in repressive environments and the broader community of political activists. The narrative’s style is a combination of the detective thriller and the personal memoir. The characters’ conversations are unique to their personality and condition. Each chapter leads the reader into deeper domains of the mystery of the plight of the author and the terror among his friends. Throughout the narrative, there is a running theological and moral debate that gives the story universal meaning.
Jim Campbell, former missionary in Alaska and Director of Humanitarian Aid to the Russian Far East for the United Methodist and Moravian Churches, has written on the back cover,
“Everything in the book is below the radar of 95% of Americans….to this day. It is further insight into the American mind and agenda of the 1960s leading into President Nixon’s trip to China. What is more, the book has relevance to this moment, to the KMT back in power and Chen in prison. Thornberry’s encounter with Taiwan is one not only of intrigue but moral struggle; all the while revealing the crudeness, brutality, and sometimes even comic nature of paranoiac despotism. The storytelling style is involving and then when you think it’s over there is more and more.”For these kind words from old friends I am deeply grateful.
If you want to keep up with the events around the book as they develop, you can check out the "Fireproof Moth" Facebook page. You can also send links to the page to friends you think might be interested.