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The Columbiad

This is a family saga of 7 novels involving three generations of an Irish-American family fighting its way toward enlightenment during the Twentieth Century. It’s the story of one family’s social, intellectual and economic development and the growth of America through turbulent times — two big wars, several smaller ones, a Depression, several revolutions (social, race, gender and sexual), and the rise of the middle class and the nation during these dynamic times. There is a subtext that chronicles the rise of American classical music.

#1 – EAGLES RISING (1896-1934) – The Mahoney family saga evolves from pioneer life on an Iowa farm and includes a migration to Chicago after the questing spirit of the Columbian Exposition transforms Martin Mahoney. This is mainly the story of his son, John-Arthur, a soldier in WWI haunted by an accident in his youth. It is the story of what happens to someone who confronts trauma at the age of ten. This Chicago neighborhood novel involves the moxie girl who becomes John-Arthur’s wife, his nemesis from the Prairie Avenue Gang, and a friend, who happens to be a Wizard.

“This is a book that lingers in the mind after the final page is turned as if a wise historian has rearranged some of our preconceived platitudes.” 
Easton Star-Democrat   12/21/07

Available at (where you can read the first 25 pages free).

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#2 – FIRST LIGHTS (1935 – 1942) – The story of John-Arthur’s son, Jim, from his frightening childhood in Chicago, through his epiphany as an adolescent on Long Island. This is a portrait of a maverick kid jousting against the restrictive religious, social and economic mores of the prewar years. It’s about being a kid in the Depression and about losing a father. Mainly, the novel concerns overcoming a bad start.

"Perhaps taking a clue from Joyce, the novel ends where it begins: the 1939 World's Fair, where a mysterious wizard lords over the Earth, their church, not cathedrals, or synagogues, but radio, music and media, adding an extra layer of import to an already rich story."
Delmarva Quarterly   Summer 2009

"It will also touch its readers with its treatment of specific yet universal problems, including the loss of a parent, blended families, guilt, loyalty and friendship, as well as the comedy and terror of emerging sexual pressure."
Taste of the Bay   2/09

"First Lights is evocatively nostalgic without being sentimental and honest in its assessments of the fears and fantasies of childhood and adolescence."
The Independent, East Hampton, NY  8/13/08

"The clear answer is Sweeney's gift with words. It lifts this chronicle to a rare level. He seems to choose words like nuggets, for their shine."
Easton Star-Democrat   4/25/08

Available at (where you can read the first 25 pages free).

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#3 – CRASHING INTO SUNRISE (1943- 1952) – Continuation of Jim’s story into young manhood, struggling toward maturity. The story with a Long Island/ New York background describes how a jerky kid pulls himself out of mediocrity onto a higher spiritual plane and of those who travel with him—his friends and lovers. Jim becomes involved in the renaissance of New York’s cultural and intellectual life at mid-century—Village life surrounded by the New York School of Art, the Beat poets, Miller and Tennessee’s Broadway, the rise of music via Lenny B.

"His command of the language and ability to translate nostalgia and zeitgeist of an era into an intellectual reality for readers of all ages makes his work substantial and a worthwhile endeavor."
Coastal Style   September, 2011

Available at (where you can read the first 25 pages free).

#4 – A TOURNAMENT OF A DISTINGUISHED WHITE ORDER (1953-54) – Jim’s army experience in the ranks and at home. The story involves his wild ride with a struggling and passionate blonde actress in Manhattan, and his choice between two army friends, one a tough street-smart New Yorker, the other a sensitive aesthete.

Tournament follows the complicated love duel between a creative army private and a sensuous young actress, a pair energized by a romance set during the "forgotten" Korean War. Jim learns how to soldier while Fawn Adams battles for a career on the New York stage during Broadway's Golden Age.


Meanwhile the aching needs of their bodies clash with societal and religious taboos before the time of the Sexual Revolution. They are caught up in the ritual that imposes military and career disciplines on their minds clogged with Catholic rules that hinder the sex-charged lovers.

"He knows about the American Military and the Korean War. He knows about the national zeitgeist of the 1950's and beyond. And he knows about love, great love, and the all-consuming inferno that comes with it."

Coastal Style Magazine, Ocean City, MD

Available at (where you can read the first 25 pages free).

#5 COMES THE ELECTRIC CIRCUS  (1956-1961) is a novel that reflects the tumultuous changes from the traditional 1950’s to the mind-blowing 60’s. The story of the romance between two young Manhattanites at a time when New York became the world’s capitol of finance and the arts, captures the evolution of their love in the midst of the radical developments in the social and intellectual shifts that re-shaped America.  Working in the lively television and magazine communication business, the couple witnesses conventional conservative values spin out of control with the advent of the Sexual Revolution, the Beats, the Boomers, cool jazz, new journalism, the rise of television and the continued escalation of the Cold War and Space Race. How does the young couple survive the mayhem and maintain their closeness?

Alice Casey is one of the “Today Show Girls” who brighten up life in Manhattan. Jim Mahoney is a would-be writer learning the fast-paced magazine business. Their love story flourishes in the bright settings of Manhattan: cocktails at the Plaza, concerts at Carnegie Hall, ballet at City Center, weekends in the Hamptons, visits to the Newport Music Festivals and Tanglewood.

Available at (where you can read the first 25 pages free).

#6 – YO! COLUMBIA (1980’s) – Jim, divorced, falls in love with a beautiful young black girl, Columbia Ruth. A romantic novel—retaining characters like the Wizard, a friend of his father, as well as his father’s piano that plays by itself—set against the lively Manhattan magazine business. It is also the story of Jim’s quest to find his father and the music from a lost Scott Joplin opera. Also chronicles the rise of a smart black woman in the cutthroat New York marketplace.

"I loved it so much, I read it twice."
Star Democrat   4/25/08

"If you enjoy novels that expound upon art and culture as the characters maneuver the landscapes of the heart, then volume 6 of the Columbiad series is for you "
Delmarva Quarterly   Autumn 2009

Available at (where you can read the first 25 pages free).

#7 – WIZARD HO! (1990’s) – In this quest novel, a merry band of Manhattan artists search for a Wizard who operates a pirate radio station that represents the embattled voice of the 20th Century. A troubled interracial couple leads a parade of dancers and musicians to find this radio maverick amid the glittering multicultural mix of New York at century's end.

Available at (where you can read the first 25 pages free).

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