In the fall of 1957, the United States lost its self-assurance. That summer, the Soviet Union had successfully tested an ICBM. Then, in October, it launched Sputnik. For the first time, the U.S. as a society faced death as an imminent threat. Blue Night takes place within the context of that lost self-assurance. It traces an evening and night in the lives of four people in New York on October 25, 1957: a jazz musician, a Palestinian refugee, a school teacher, and a woman of means. It is a book about the crossing of their lives, about the city, and about a night.