As Sounding Brass (New York City, 1964) is a novel written by Indianapolis attorney and Civil War expert Alan T. Nolan. Published by Houghton-Mifflin, the book focuses on the experiences of Adam Johnson, a probationary worker at the Faultless Pump Company, who is shot by police as a robbery suspect and becomes a paraplegic due to the bullet lodged in his spine. The author never reveals whether Johnson was guilty. Rather, the book is a chronicle of Johnson’s trip through the criminal justice and social welfare systems of an “average” American city.

Each group or organization Johnson encounters manages to pass his case on and rationalizes that nothing can be done for him. Johnson finds salvation almost literally through money provided to him by Father Gleason, the “bingo priest”.

Nolan based his book on a real case that had occurred in Indianapolis many years earlier. In interviews at the time of publication, he emphasized that his intention was to tell a story that could have happened in any American city. Nevertheless, reviewers in the Indianapolis News and the Indianapolis Star devoted much time and ink in matching people and places in the book with Indianapolis equivalents.

Revised February 2021

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