In My Father's Shadow

Updated: Oct 25

Excerpts and Reviews:


"The basement, unadorned with any decorative semblance, had a simple poured concrete floor and cinder block walls. It had an earthy smell, and even though it remained relatively dry, it also faintly smelled of wet concrete. Illuminated by only two incandescent light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, created shadowy spaces where the light struggled to reach, certainly a breeding ground for monsters. Father kept a work bench along one wall and mother did laundry in a tub at the far end of the basement. It was also where my brother and I received haircuts from father; as I recall, a somewhat painful process which left the recipient traumatized. He would have us sit on a stool supplemented with phone books and other paraphernalia to elevate our heads so he would not have to bend over. I am not sure what the paraphernalia included, but it only took a few minutes, with legs dangling off edges, before they would start tingling from lack of blood and go to sleep. Wrapped with one of mother’s old discarded bed sheets, father would fasten it at the neck with a clip in a strangle hold so tight our faces turned beet red, with tongues enlarged and protruding, we gasped for air. He paid little or no attention to our distress. Father was always a little rough with his boys, grabbing us with vise like grips at various places, like noses, jaws, and foreheads to obtain the desired angle and to prevent us squirming in the stool and our heads from wobbling on our thin necks…”sit still”, he would demand! With scissors and comb he would commence to bang about our heads, snipping and clipping with intensity. Once the intended length was achieved he would extract thinning shears, a most unpleasant cutting implement. The purpose of thinning shears was to add texture and reduce bulk, but his method of pulling it through our hair after he had closed the scissors resulted in large clumps of hair being ripped from our scalps. Satisfied he had attained the desired effect, despite our protests, he would draw electric clippers across our necks to remove peach fuzz. The clippers pulled our tender and delicate skin into the whirring mechanism pinching and slicing off chunks. Our wounds, fortunately, were immediately cauterized by the intense heat from the electric motor. By the end of the haircut we felt mugged and punished for allowing our hair to grow. The only thing worse than getting your hair cut by father was to watch as your brother got his haircut first, knowing that you too would be next. Ascending the steps from the basement, my brother and I looked like two skinheads going to a birthday party for Hitler. The process was repeated on a regular basis until we reached an age where we were allowed to visit a legitimate barber shop. On my first few visits I would wince thinking I was going to receive the same treatment father had inflicted; and, was pleasantly surprised to learn haircuts didn’t have to be disagreeable. But father’s haircuts weren’t so much for grooming as they were to toughen us into little men…only he would know if he had succeeded."

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IN MY FATHER’S SHADOW commemorates the life of a man who made a big difference by doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.

John M. Tabor’s father learned sacrifice and responsibility at an early age, when he was left to provide for his mother and sister after his father’s sudden death. As the book recounts his experiences at a young age to struggle to fulfill this role, it becomes apparent that one of the most important lessons he learned was to provide more than financial security for his family members.

Over the years, the senior Tabor instilled his two sons, one of which is the author, with values that ensured they would be strong and determined young men with a sense of family history and support. The childhood home of the author is described in great detail, because it reflects his father’s ability to visualize and create a structure that embodied his personality, but more importantly, to provide a stable life for his family. This is significant because it evolved from his father’s younger years without his own father.

One of the most valuable gifts any father can give his children is simply to be part of their lives. It is evident from the experiences relayed in the book that the author’s father cheerfully welcomed the role of fatherhood. He was a consummate boater and fisherman and passed these skills along to his sons. Even when miles separated the two, father and son would continue to share fishing stories by phone on a weekly basis. When his father decided the boys should learn to alpine ski, they were horrified. The story of their skiing lessons and subsequent experiences as they tackle this new skill is hilarious. Many children would have given up and refused to proceed, but the author and his brother persisted and eventually learned to love the sport as they triumphed over the initial challenges. It is worth noting that character-building was achieved through the free-time activities arranged by their father. This could serve as an example for today’s stressed-out parents who drive their children from one extracurricular activity to another. Quality time spent one-on-one with children has its rewards.

The story ends with the last days of his father’s life, which takes the reader to a more somber place, but it is heartening to recognize that the legacy of John M. Tabor’s father will live on in his sons. IN MY FATHER’S SHADOW is more than a biography. It is a solidly conveyed tribute to John M. Tabor’s father which includes a great deal of history and humor.

~Karen Collins for IndieReader

I had the opportunity to read this before publication and I am beyond excited to have this book available for the world to read. John goes into such intricate details of his father's life that you find yourself sitting on the edge of your chair hoping his dad will survive. While it is easy to go online to look for a job these days, John's father had to hide on various train cars traveling hundreds of miles because there was "word" of work. He was responsible to feed his mother and sister and had an incredible burden on his life at a very young age. The stories of war and the horrific battles around him made me hold my breath in anticipation of his return to safety. Add to that the tender moments of fishing with his boys and his beloved boat and you find yourself sitting among the fish guts while the waves crash at your side, and somehow it all seems like fun! This book should be read by anyone who enjoys history or just plain loves a story about a man and his legacy! Great book!! I loved it!


Dr. John Malcolm Tabor writes a true story of a man, his father, who lived a life few of us in the 2000's generations can truly appreciate. It is a story of hardship; it is a story of survival; it is a story of overcoming loss; it is a story of "rising from the ashes" to becoming successful. Dr. Tabor goes into great detail in his writing which allows the reader to not only understand the man but to understand the times and the situations. It is a personal story filled with humor, gentleness, roughness, kindness, honesty! This book provokes thoughts for all of the readers of the true essence of our own fathers (and mothers). There are wondrous stories behind the people who raised us throughout generations. Dr. Tabor took the time to explore that which made his father a very special human being.


Dr. Tabor's first book is an absolute masterpiece. A wonderful family history that weaves Americana in its truest sense through coastal adventures and mid-century life in rural Pennsylvania. Mr. Tabor was a remarkable man who indelibly left his mark on all that he touched and his passions were as inspirational as his philosophies were true. Punctuated with humor, intrigue and introspection, Tabor takes the reader on an incredibly detailed journey through the eyes of a boy becoming a man desperate to emulate his father's every accomplishment and desperate to avoid each of his father's many entertaining pitfalls. I highly recommend this fascinating read.

~Joe C.

This book demonstrates the importance of the values and integrity that lives through us from generation to generation. The stories unfold in several discrete events that provides picturesque images of the settings and the characters, intertwined with humors and sadness. However, it brings all together at the end showing how one father taught his son the true value of life. This book brings us back to the painful history that our older generations had to endure and the beauty of the values and the integrity that will continue to live through us and to our future generations.


I rarely have free time and leisurely reading is a luxury for me. I loved this book. It transported me to every adventure. I laughed, I cried. It was so thoughtful and beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this real life story. I can’t wait to read whatever is next from the author, John Tabor, he’s a great story teller.

~Barney Rubble

John chronicled the life of his father and told of the ways he struggled and persisted dealing with all life's challenges. The hardships and triumphs, told with humor and wit, helped define the attributes of strong character. As I read, I couldn't help comparing John's father to my own and how each of the lessons I learned from him helped chart my own direction in life. It was a great read and gave me a lot to think about and be thankful for.

~Mike C

This book gives you a front row seat to a story of a man who pushed through his entire life trying to overcome merely survive. John Tabor gives such vivid details of his Fathers journey. Every single chapter had me engaged and made me think… how lucky I am and how complicated we make life. What a remarkable and intriguing life story. This book really captured my heart. We all can relate to the authors Father by recalling our own Fathers life story and hardship. I felt like I knew his Father by the end of the book and wished I could have met someone who is so special. This is a very touching book and the final chapters had me in tears. This is a collection of short stories from birth, the war, trying to find work, family times, boating, skiing, and his final days. I don’t know about you but the Author John Tabor seems to have a lot of qualities of a modern-day Superman. I will also make sure to look out for liberals eating blue crab in fancy clothes…. They cannot be trusted.

This book is a must read!


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