DiscoverHistorical Fiction

Newark Minutemen

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Must read 🏆

Required reading for anyone unaware of the very real danger posed by the American Bund Nazi Party in the late 1930s.

I was intrigued by the plot of this book and immediately recognized the importance of the content. Choosing to address rising fascism by taking a look back at how close Nazism came to ravaging America in the late 1930s provided a clarity that I can only wish was shared by more people. The author goes as far as to say this is part of the reason for her exploration of this material. Though we should never feel guilt for what our ancestors may have done, I admit I would feel proud to know that I had a relative who was a part of the Newark Minutemen.


It’s a story about immigrants and the melting pot that is America. It’s about the importance of fighting for democracy and the right for everyone to live their lives freely. It’s about the urgency of always remembering history because it will inevitably repeat itself. The only way we can prevent future calamities is by being aware of those that happened in the past. We must always be aware of those who will use patriotism to mask their own selfish desires to be worshipped, to be dictators, to be gods.


Often, the book was difficult to read because the racism permeated everything. There were lynchings (after carving a swastika into the chest of one victim), rape of young girls, abusive fathers and husbands-to-be, and honestly, I was just astounded by the things I had never learned in history classes. At numerous times, I physically recoiled and had to take a break from reading. The history of Nazis that we learn has been sanitized because it is so horrific, and I suspect we fear teaching our children would scar them. But that may be what is needed because the lessons of history are so quickly forgotten and remembering may be one of the most important tasks of society. 


Some of the similarities to the past and today were too obvious to ignore. The two slogans of the American Bund Nazi Party were MAKE AMERICA GREAT and AMERICA FIRST!! The American Nazis often spoke of Der Tag, the day that was coming that Germany would rise up around the world and take power, a little too similar to The Storm for my tastes. I can’t help but think that if we made more of an effort to educate new generations, we might more quickly recognize the clues when evil next rears its head. We might take it more seriously and we might make more of an effort to obliterate it before it grows and infects more people.


The narrative was a bit off-putting from the beginning, and if I’m being honest, every time the story switched to Yael’s POV, because he dropped the g’s off of words. I understand it is probably because the author wanted his voice to be unique, but for me, this kind of thing only works in dialogue. And the other POVs did not really differ significantly from one another. I think it would have been better to change POVs without changing the voice too drastically (if at all). There was also a scene in which Yael took a “selfie” of himself and Krista in the mirror. I don’t think “selfie” was a term familiar to anyone at that time so I was immediately pulled out of the story. Also, there were a couple of times, usually at the end of a chapter, when the concluding action was described in a way that was unclear to me. It seemed like an effort to be creative, but for me, it was just confusing.


It was astounding to read about people freely trading in freedom for the promise of prosperity and the cleansing of the unwanted. Some people prefer to be told what to do and what to think. But then, as stated at one point, “...a dictator isn’t gonna tell you he’s a dictator before you vote for him.” And, of course, even once they are in power, some of the people will continue to love the dictator. Until he comes for them. 


Aside from being a depiction of the Nazi movement in the United States, this is also a love story between Yael and Krista. There were a few exchanges that stood out to me and I feel are worth pointing out. Krista tried to describe to Yael the way of the Nazi American party, the Bund, who believed they were saving America. Yael responded: “Your way uses our flags to clean toilets and claims that’s patriotic because you made ‘em shine.” There were many times when the flags displayed at the Nazi events were the American flag side-by-side with the Nazi flag (though usually with the swastika above the and the US flag below). They tried to take the US flag and merge it with the Nazi flag (mixing red, white, and blue into the Nazi flag), almost as if to ease the transition, as if they could slowly switch to only the Nazi flag and no one would notice. The American Nazis got their weapons for free from the NRA and joined the National Guard so they could get free training to use the weapons and learn combat techniques. It’s not so very different from the NRA getting funding from foreign governments to fight for the rights of militias, and the police and military of the US infiltrated by white supremacists.


Krista, who was born in Germany, has been brainwashed by her Nazi father and older sister. She is treated as nothing more than a potentially fertile woman (since she is not yet 18). At one point, standing in a room listening to the men talk, she thinks, “For a second, I think that the men have forgotten about me. I’m just standing here like the k in know.”


Yael is the young Jewish boy whose parents escaped the horrors of Russia to find a better life in America. He works for Longie Zwillerman, the Jewish mobster in Newark NJ, who bankrolls the Newark Minutemen. Longie talks to Yael about his parents and how they wanted more for him saying,  “‘Keep their dream alive, and they’ll be with you every day and help you know who you are. This is your legacy.’ He pats me on the shoulder and then withdraws into the darkness to give me light.” (I absolutely loved that last sentence!)


In explaining the importance of the number eight (for reasons that become clear in the book), Longie states, “Eight is one rung above normal.” He then goes on to explain that there are seven days in week, seven notes in music, seven seas, seven holes in your head, but eight is just one better. Hanukkah is eight days, the lamp oil lasting longer than it should have. “Eight is courage that pushes men beyond normal...Eight leaders of the Newark Minutemen.” 


In addition to telling a riveting story, Barry also includes some bits of poetry and I especially liked this part: “...the skyline smears before me like smashed, runny eggs.” I also found this to be an exceedingly clever simile: “I move my eyes across the massive crowd like I’m searchin’ for a typo in a newspaper.”


I recommend the book. It’s a difficult read, if you have a heart, but it is compelling and I might go so far as to say necessary.



Reviewed by

I am a writer, editor, proofreader, and an avid reader.

Prologue

About the author

Amazon best selling author, Leslie K. Barry is most recently a screenwriter, author, and executive producer. Her professional work includes executive positions with major entertainment companies. You can visit her website at NewarkMinutemen.com. view profile

Published on October 06, 2020

Published by Morgan James Publishing

100000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by