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Philly Warzone

Kevin Purcell loved growing up in Southwest Philadelphia. He loved its playgrounds filled with kids playing non-stop in the summertime. He loved how almost everyone knew everybody in his racially diverse neighborhood. This fostered a community spirit that lasted throughout his childhood. Then came the race riots of the 1970s, when Kevin was just 11, and the harmony was shattered.

"To face so much danger at such a young age was a story that needed to be told", Purcell revealed.

Purcell now operates a home-based advertising practice based in Philadelphia. The World Recession of 2008 provided him ample time to complete the telling of this story which he began crafting over 15 years ago, working on it in-between writing assignments. In late 2011, he finally self-published Philly Warzone with Xlibris to favorable reviews and a strong reception from the very people who grew up in the same area.

"My chief aspiration for writing the book was to try to paint a picture with words for my children, and the children of my four brothers, so they could understand what our childhood was like, good and bad". Purcell's memoir vividly captures the tense atmosphere of the time with harrowing narratives of daring escapes, near misses and regrettable violence as seen through the eyes of a child.

"These are activities most young kids don't think twice about. Yet, for us, during those years in that neighborhood, every move we made had to be calculated if we wanted to stay out of harm's way", observes Purcell.

Summing up his book's message Purcell repeats his mother's lesson that was taught to him before their neighborhood turned into a racial background: "There are good whites and good blacks. And there are bad whites and bad blacks. Skin color is just that, a color. It's what is inside the person that counts."

The public's reaction to Philly Warzone has been overwhelming. "I have received hundreds of texts, emails, and Facebook posts from friends, family, and total strangers who have praised the book," added Purcell.

"I've been particularly touched by many readers who lived through those dangerous years with me. So many have thanked me for capturing the essence of what those times were like. Many have said that now, at last, they can just hand my book to others and say, 'Read this. This is what it was like.'"

It seems Purcell hit his mark with his debut effort aided ably by Xlibris. "The production process, spearheaded by my Author Services Representative, Jessie Klingler, was handled in an extremely professional manner. Coming from the advertising world, I know how detail-oriented the print production process can be. Jessie and her staff were terrific to work with in every way, and I am extremely pleased with the printed result."

Asked about his advice to would-be authors, Purcell shared: "First, don't be in a hurry. I started jotting down notes for my book 14 years before it was ultimately published. Second, be very critical of your own work. I wrote 51 drafts of my book before I felt it was finally ready to submit for publication. As advertising great Walter Weir, one of my mentors, once told me: 'Good prose is not written, it is rewritten over and over again.'"