What’s in a name?

A lot of people have asked me where how did I come up with the names of the characters? Specifically, they are asking about the principle character Josh Haman whose full name is Joshua Jonathan Haman.

First, let me be clear, most of the names of the characters in BIG MOTHER 40 and the other planned novels are fictitious. Rather than use the actual names of senior officers in Josh’s chain of command, I used their titles rather than put words in their mouth, so to speak.

Second, one reader who was a student of Soviet history asked me if I realized that many the Russian names were Russian generals. If they are, it is a coincidence.

So how did I come up with Joshua Jonathan Haman? I picked Joshua because (a) I liked it and (b) because Joshua was one of the great warriors in the bible. If you look at the first five books of the Old Testament as a military text, it has, as a professor military history once commented, many descriptions of tactics that are followed today.

Jonathan was picked again, because I liked the name. Here’s a family secret. Growing up, I hated my middle name and wanted my parents to change it to Jonathan. They refused, so now the hero in my novels has Jonathan as his middle name.

Which brings me to Josh’s last name which some might think comes from the Old Testament and what many archaeologists say is the origin of civilization as we know it today, i.e. the area we know of Iran and Iraq. For those of you have read the book of Ester, you know that Haman was the villain who wanted to exterminate all the Jews in ancient Persia.

Haman is also a German name and is also a common Arab male first name. Etymologists, i.e. the folks that study the history and make-up of words note that ancient Greek historians associated the name Haman with the Persian name Omanes. What I found, after I written BIG MOTHER 40 was that Haman was also the derivative of the ancient Persian word Hamayun which means illustrious or magnificent. Hmmmmm…. I wish I had known that when I picked his name!

Marc Liebman
October 25th, 2012