Michael Boylan

Author of To the Promised Land

Do you share any personality traits with (name of main character)?

One of my main characters, Peter Simon, is a philosophy professor at a small Catholic college in Arlington, VA who also works with national think tanks—that’s like me (though in most other respects we are quite different).


Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?

Generally yes, but years ago I didn’t mind my children climbing on me as I pinged away at my manual typewriter (Underwood, 1928).


What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

To the Promised Land uses two primary techniques to tell its story. The first is to make every chapter a first person narrative from one of the characters in the book. This gives different takes on the same subject. The second, is an alteration on the epistolary form as one character is revealed solely through a personal journal he gave to another character in the story. This gives an added time detachment. These two techniques help stimulate reflection on the part of the reader.


What is your favorite movie based on a book, where you preferred the movie?

Atonement by Ian McEwan. The book was wonderful, but the movie took sides on issues that McEwan left up in the air.


What is your favorite non-writing pastime?

I enjoy cycling and swimming. I do around 30 small biathlons a year.


Michael Boylan is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Marymount University. He is the author of 26 books and over 120 articles in Philosophy and Literature




To the Promised Land

“Michael Boylan’s thought-provoking novel, To the Promised Land, is a gem. Read it for its suspense-filled, fast-paced action, for the philosophic insights its characters raise as easily as they breathe, or for probing its main mysteries: why did Moses Levi disappear; why did he send his journal to his college roommate; and, more profoundly, how can one heal a guilty conscience or live without harming others?"

—Virginia L. Warren, Professor of Philosophy, Chapman University

Every student leaving the protected grounds of school wonders: must I now throw away my ideals, or can they guide me through the rough-and-tumble city? The philosopher Socrates’s descent into the bloodsports of business and politics was called “ketabasis.” But for the old college friends Moses and Peter, it is betrayal and murder found in Michael Boylan’s fast-paced and gripping novel, To the Promised Land. Can their friendship, and their morals, survive in the Washington world of corporate crime, backstabbing bosses, floundering do-gooder groups, and a media ravenous for scandal? The old adage, “Do no harm,” is pulverized in Washington’s internecine power-struggles: for nearly every action brings an unexpected harm, and several enemies.


Moses leaves the law, seeking atonement for shielding a company that poisoned a town; Peter leaves the small world of the campus, and takes up a controversial campaign to alter affirmative action, seemingly to bring about “the greater good.” Their threads of ethics must do battle against lawyers, private detectives, secretive lobbyists and, looming over all, the charge of first-degree murder. Boylan sets philosophical passions, and an engaged dialogue about forgiveness, inside a film-noir world, where affection, family loyalty, and trust come under threat.


"Propulsive and witty, To the Promised Land is smart about ideas, and smart about people negotiating justice and power in public life."

—David Gewanter, Professor of English, Georgetown University

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