'To Save the Nation'


Attorney pens legal thriller featuring political intrigue

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

A mysterious plane crash, millions of missing dollars, and an Argentinian military junta murdering thousands of citizens—all the ingredients of a legal thriller with a human rights message from Detroit attorney Robert E. Kass.

Kass, who previously co-authored two legal guides for laymen: “The Executor’s Companion,” and “Who Will Care When You’re Not There? Estate Planning for Pet Owners,” has penned “To Save the Nation,” drawing on his early years of practice in international law, as well as research and interviews around the globe.

The book was launched on November 6 with an event at the Bloomfield Township Public Library. An audience of around 100 people enjoyed coffee, cakes and conversation, and heard Kass speak about the story behind the story.

“Fascinating intrigue, all the way to an interview of a colonel from the Argentine Dirty War era, how I got the interview, and what he said to justify killing thousands of people,” Kass says. “I concluded with a discussion of how disappearances are continuing around the world today—the human rights message of the book—and how journalists are one of the main targets.”

A University of Michigan Law School grad with a master's degree in taxation from New York University Law School, Kass is an attorney with the Detroit law firm of Barris, Sott, Denn, & Driker where he chairs the firm’s Tax, Estate Planning & Probate group.

This is the first foray into writing a novel for the Huntington Woods resident. His book is inspired by events that started in the 1970s when Kass spent five years as a young attorney in an international law firm in Belgium.

“One client was an Argentine banker whose charter jet crashed in Mexico. His remains were identified, he was cremated, and within weeks all the banks in his group worldwide failed. Millions of dollars were missing. There was speculation that he wasn’t in the plane, that it was a set-up,” says Kass, a fan of legal thrillers by John Grisham and Lisa Scottoline.

“The novel is inspired by this event and is an international legal thriller with political overtones. But to be clear, I don’t know where the money is!”

The novel starts—as did real life—with the crash of a private jet in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains. Three people perish, including an Argentine banker—or did he?

It turns out more than $200 million is missing from the bank, and this banker— rumored to have links to the left-wing Montonero guerillas, notorious for ransom kidnappings—was the only person with knowledge of possible financial shenanigans.

An American lawyer, who once represented the banker, meets a woman who may be the banker’s daughter and whose real mother was a prisoner during Argentina’s “Dirty War,” from 1976 to 1983.  During that period military and security forces and right-wing death squads hunted down political dissidents and anyone believed to be associated with socialism, left-wing Peronism or the Montoneros movement. Students, professors, publishers, lawyers, judges, and labor activists all “disappeared.”

Taking on this woman as a client, the lawyer starts investigating whether the banker’s disappearance was faked.

Kass draws on an interview he did in 2010 with a former colonel from the Argentine right-wing civic-military dictatorship of the ‘70s.

“Somewhere between 8,000—the colonel’s estimate—and 30,000 people, the figure advanced by the opposition, were disappeared to ‘save the nation,’” Kass says. “‘Trials,’ said the colonel, ‘were not necessary.’ He said, ‘We had information—they were rebels, they were guilty, and we killed them.’”

Kass, who hopes the novel might one day reach the screen, originally wrote the book to raise awareness of the disappearance of thousands of Argentinians in the 1970s.

However, he also hopes his novel will draw attention to human rights abuses around the globe, with disappearances continuing in nearly 100 countries; and he hopes to provoke a serious conversation about how far a country should go in violating human rights when its leaders believe the nation is under a threat.

The book has drawn praise from such dignitaries as Christine Van den Wyngaert, former judge at the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice, currently judge at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers; from attorney Olivia Venet, president of the Belgian Human Rights League; and from Swiss politician Antonio Hodgers, whose father was one of the “disappeared” in Argentina. Hodgers voted for the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

For more information about the disappearances in Argentina and around the world today, visit https://www.robertekass.com/press-1 and check out the video trailer at www.robertekass.com. The book is available in print, e-book, and audiobook, and purchasing information is available on the website.


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