AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– History jumps off the pages as memoirs and mementos connect the dots to an exciting, dangerous, and secret past. The Suitcase: the Life and Times of Captain X is an epic tale of Vladimir George Taussig’s incredible life growing up in Czechoslovakia, spending years in Shanghai, England, and eventually New York.

The authors of The Suitcase: the Life and Times of Captain X are with me today. Debbie Boehner, who is the owner of her father’s suitcase and its contents… and Lauren Housman, who is an emerging writer from Aiken.

Debbie Taussig-Boehner and Lauren Housman, authors of The Suitcase: The Life and Times of Captain X

In the book Boehner explains that she or her sister, whoever had the space, was the caretaker of this suitcase for years.

“Yes, for decades! And, finally, after I retired, I decided I really needed to see what was in the suitcase. And, so it was in September of 2012, and I dragged it out, and the suitcase had disintegrated. All that’s left is the top of it now. And, I put it in a shadow box, but it was filled with albums and matchbook from all sorts of restaurants and resorts. It had just letters, so many letters from Czechoslovakia. They were written in Czech. I had to have them translated. And, just reports that he had written over the years to the government in exile of the Czech, now Czech Republic, but Czechoslovakia then. And, I laid it all out in front of me. Many of the photographs had fallen out of the albums. So, I was like a detective trying to say, well, who was wearing what and how did these fit together? And, the story emerged.”

She began to put the pieces together and realized her father, a veteran of the Great War, fled his native Prague and spent years in Shanghai, falling in with high society. His life takes him to New York, where he had friends who were radio stars…. to Britain, where he spoke out against fascism…. and eventually back to the United States where he married and had children. She also learned that Taussig’s family, back in Czechoslovakia, experienced the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust.

Boehner spent the next two years traveling and researching.

“I went to Prague, I went to Shanghai, I went to New York. Thanks to the internet, I was able to find my father’s name mentioned in several other books that other people had written. And, one lady who was 98 at the time still was alive. So, I made contact with her son and traveled to Montreal, visited with her, and I brought some documents that were still written in Czech, and she translated them for me. One was a picture of a woman, and the back was in Czech, and she looked at the picture. She said, ‘That’s my sister.'”

In time, Boehner reached out to Housman, who has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction.

“When I came in, Debbie had done so much organizing, and timelining, and putting things together. So, we knew what we knew, what we didn’t know, what we wanted to know. And, you had made some attempts to turn it into a manuscript. So, we had an idea of where the story would begin, what scenes we wanted. It was just a matter of actually writing it and getting it all to come together…. I made a lot of outlines, timelines, maps, who was doing what, when, and what part of the world. And, then trying to figure out how the history had influenced them, when maybe they didn’t realize it themselves as they were living the events in the story. That was probably the most time consuming part was just onboarding me to the story.”

The Suitcase: The Life and Times of Captain X is available through online booksellers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can also order the book, and see the contents of the suitcase here and on social media at @ReadTheSuitcase.