Book Parts (Dedication) – Mark of the Spider

Book dedications are special. You should read them.

After all the work the author has put into writing the book, he or she devotes a few words to one or more special people.

Dedications are not acknowledgements, which simply let the reader know that more than one person helped out.

Paraphrasing the Free Dictionary definition, a dedication is an announcement to the world of affection or esteem.

In my Viet-Nam era memoir, HOTEL CONSTELLATION: Notes from America’s Secret War in Laos, I went overboard and dedicated the book to half of the people I knew at the time. Every one of those people deserved the dedication.

With my latest book, The Mark of the Spider, I point out two people who were special not only in my life in general but were special to all the work I did on the book.

My wife, Elizabeth, leads this exclusive list. She has encouraged me to write books almost since the day we met 50 years ago this summer. I could write a lot more about her, but you get the idea. Fifty years.

John Morrow-bw vert_IMG_8947

John Morrow, nature photographer. Photo: Sharon Lerner

The other dedication goes to John Morrow, (1947-2009).

We knew each other only a decade. We shared a few similarities, like our dirty hands blue-collar backgrounds, but were in most ways very different people.

John did a handful of things to perfection — construction, photography, shooting, cooking, mentoring —  and I like to watch people doing the things they love.

He made things, at first small things like leather goods and later much bigger things, like the U.S. Institute of Peace on the National Mall.


U.S. Institute of Peace model. Photo:


John loved to grill, and my wife and I enjoyed watching him tango around his wife, Sharon, in the kitchen he built for them.

Like so many self-made people, he had endless curiosity but a determined ability to focus on one thing at a time.

When he died (far too young) at the age of 62, John was devoting more and more of his time to photographing wildlife, in particular bears, moose and other potentially deadly critters.

It is no coincidence that Sebastian Arnett, the protagonist in The Mark of the Spider, is a nature photographer.

Almost ten years after delivering a eulogy for his life, I find myself still missing the evenings we spent together, drinking red wine, listening to music and arguing over who played what instrument on the arrangement.

I am fascinated that our differences enhanced our friendship. I think readers might recognize that theme in The Mark of the Spider.

The next time you take up a book, I hope you will read the dedication and find a little something that you can identify with. I’m pretty certain that is what the author intends.

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