In 701 B.C. the Assyrian empire was in its ascendancy. It had already vanquished the kingdom of Israel to the north including the capital at Samaria. It then prepared an assault on Judah and its capital at Jerusalem.

But in one of those significant events that changes the course of world history, Assyria was repelled. Jerusalem was saved until 586 B.C. when the Babylonians sacked the city, forcing its leadership class into exile.

Henry Aubin, in a major feat of scholarship, determines that Jerusalem was aided by a Kushite army from Africa which had marched northeast from the Nile valley. While the Bible attributes the Assyrian retreat to an angel and secular commentators cite pestilence, Aubin, in a meticulously documented work, demonstrates that an alliance with the African nation of Kush bolstered Jerusalem’s defences.

Kush, also known as Nubia, was located in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan. A monarchy that existed for more than 1000 years, from 900 B.C. to A.D. 350, Kushites held sway over Egypt from 712 B.C. to about 660 B.C. Of Egypt’s 31 dynasties, this, the 25th Dynasty, is the only one that all scholars agree, was black.

The commander of the Kushite expeditionary force was Taharqa (or as the Bible calls him Tirhakah). This Kushite prince, who had his own interests in halting Assyrian expansion, likely caught the aggressors by surprise as they prepared their siege of Jerusalem.

Aubin offers a thrilling military history and a stirring political analysis of the ancient world. He also sees the event as influential over the centuries.

The Kushite rescue of the Hebrew kingdom of Judah enabled the fragile, war-ravaged state to endure, to nurse itself back to economic and demographic health, and allowed the Hebrew religion, Yahwism, to evolve within the next several centuries into Judaism. Thus emerged the monotheistic trunk supporting Christianity and Islam.


“Martin Knelman probes deeper to find the real John Candy, a much more ambivalent figure… he’s rescued him from the sanctimonious prison of his image. We can laugh now.”
Mark Breslin/Toronto Star

Penguin Canada Oct/96
St. Martin’s Press (U.S.) Oct/97

The Life Of John Candy

John Candy — the actor and comedian who died of a heart attack at age 43 in 1994 — was one of film and television’s best loved personalities. In the 1970’s, Candy became an audience favorite on the cult-hit series SCTV, creating such hilarious characters as the self-indulgent, conniving conman, Johnny LaRue. Then, following friends and colleagues Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, John Candy made the move to Hollywood — appearing in more than two dozen pictures, including Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Uncle Buck.

When John Candy met entrepreneur/movie producer/sports promoter Bruce McNall, he thought he had met the man who embodied Hollywood success. Candy saw McNall as a role model, and someone who was in control of his career — a position that had so far eluded Candy. They became partners (along with hockey star Wayne Gretzky) in an ill-fated sports venture — the ownership of Candy’s beloved hometown football team, The Toronto Argonauts. When the McNall empire crashed in 1993, Candy apparently was a victim of a man who bore a distinct resemblance to Johnny LaRue.

Martin Knelman shows how small roles in successful comedies like Stripes and The Blues Brothers led John Candy to one of his best roles ever, the high-living brother of the hero, Tom Hanks, in Splash. As Freddie, Candy is endearing and hilarious; he plays racquetball with Hanks, smoking and drinking beer from a large cooler he has brought to the gym. The character of the lovable slob, full of sweetness, mirrors Candy’s life. He was a compulsive over-eater, a chain-smoker and a heavy drinker. He was also a sensitive, generous and much-loved man whose rapport with millions of fans was based on the fact that he always came across as an ordinary guy.