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Newark Minutemen

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In between the world wars, during the Great Depression, American democracy is being threatened by a shadow Hitler-Nazi party in America, complete with a self-proclaimed American Hitler and a 1939 Nuremberg-like rally at Madison Square Garden. Inspired by a true American legend, a Jewish boxer trained by the mafia and FBI fights the rising American Nazi party. During his undercover mission to rid the country of the American Führer, he falls in love with the enemy’s daughter.

347 pages, Paperback

First published April 28, 2020

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About the author

Leslie K. Barry

1 book37 followers
Leslie K. Barry is most recently a screenwriter, author, and executive producer. Her previous professional work includes executive positions with major entertainment companies including Turner Broadcasting, Hasbro/Parker Brothers, Mattel, and Mindscape Video Games. Other areas of business include executive for the first e-shopping platform called eShop and marketing for Lotus Development, the US Post Office, and AOL. She was an Alpha Sigma Tau at JMU (James Madison University) in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley and attended a grad program at Harvard. She has spent the last twenty-five years with her husband, Doug Barry, in Tiburon, CA raising their four kids, Zachary, Brittany, Shaya, and Jackson, and their dog, Kona. On the side, she's devoted to genealogy where she has uncovered many ideas for developing untold stories that help us appreciate the context of history, preserve lessons of the past, and honor memories through family storybooks. For fun, she likes to travel, ski in Sun Valley, Idaho, play tennis, and visit her family in Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina, where she most enjoys Maryland hard crabs and hush puppies, Ledo's pizza, and chocolate horns. You can visit her website at NewarkMinutemen.com.

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5 stars
56 (46%)
4 stars
36 (30%)
3 stars
14 (11%)
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6 (5%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews
1 review2 followers
April 25, 2020
My 94 year old mom told us these stories growing up but it seemed to far fetched and unbelievable. As the family got together with long lost cousins found through Ancestry, the stories connected and turned out to be true. I cannot put the book down knowing now what went on in the back of the candy store near my mom’s apartment where she and her four brothers were raised. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Profile Image for Sharon Zemil Whitt.
1 review1 follower
April 15, 2020
Excellent details of history brought to life!
Thank you for educating me on a part of American history that I was never taught. The lesson that freedom and equality are never free is still true today.
1 review1 follower
April 14, 2020
This is a very important part of American history that few people are aware of. It is a must read!
Profile Image for Katrina.
675 reviews31 followers
April 30, 2021
Special thanks to NetGalley for providing a digital copy in exchange for an honest review

I have to DNF this one. I know when it comes to advanced copies, we're supposed to overlook grammatical and format errors. But this has been published for almost a year, and theres errors on every practically every page and it's so difficult to sift through.

And even if that wasn't the case, the writing style just isn't for me. It's repetitive. For example, Krista mentions how her mother died giving birth to her and her sister Heidi has had to fill the motherly role for her twice. I'm paraphrasing here, but it's pretty verbatim two chapters in a row. once we get that info once, we don't need it a second time. It's just redundant.

I feel really bad about this because I was so interested in the history behind the story, but I'm sorry I just can't continue on with it
Profile Image for Elizabeth Connor.
1,135 reviews15 followers
February 16, 2021
This book is 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.

I received an ARC from Reedsy (https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/new...).
Profile Image for Katya Cengel.
Author 3 books38 followers
November 18, 2020
Although it is a novel, Newark Minutemen is based on a true story, one the author, Leslie Barry, learned from her family. Uncle Harry was more than just a boxer in Newark in the 1930s, he was also a Newark Minuteman, a title given to a group of boxers under the leadership of the Jewish mob who partnered with the FBI between World War I and II to battle fascism in America. The terminology used by the American Nazis – Make America Great – will sound familiar to contemporary readers. The insight the main characters possess at times also sounds familiar, as if they somehow know the outcome of the war before it has even begun. Contemporary readers may find this makes it easier for them to relate to the characters.

What will no doubt come as a surprise are the details to which the American Nazi party was able to infiltrate America. More than two dozen camps trained youth in Hitler’s ideology, there was an American Führer and weapons were weaseled from the unsuspecting NRA and National Guard. Other details, although less important, are what make the world between the wars come alive. There is a penny slipped under a wobbly table leg, whiskey placed in a cat dish and a particular cologne that is shared by two characters. Of the boxers, Barry says: “There’s endless stories behind each scar on their bodies.”

The book is cinematic, with clear good and bad guys and plenty of action. This will probably make it quite appealing to a younger demographic. That the main protagonists, Yael and Krista, first appear as children also lends itself to a younger readership. But cameos by Frank Sinatra and famous mob bosses and politicians of the time will appeal to an older crowd. The love story is a West Side Story, Romeo and Juliet, set in a very different time and place. It is the characters and their very personal battle with identity that really make the tale stand out. This struggle is voiced best by Krista when she describes her family and community.

“I study them in turn – the way Axel’s shoulder twitches when he’s tense, how Fuhrer Kuhn’s forehead wrinkles when he frowns, how my father’s nose flares when he’s angry, how Heidi swipes her tongue across her lops when she’s nervous. These mannerisms are familiar. They remind me of me.” She wonders: “What am I without them? Who am I alone?”

The answer: “No one.”
Profile Image for Gina Stamper.
525 reviews17 followers
October 21, 2020
Newark Minutemen is a very well put together book. To write a Historical novel, you have to be very knowledgeable and do your research. I think that Leslie K. Barry has really managed to bring an authentic feel and facts into her fiction.
I liked the historical background to the evolving story. I think the fact that the author knows the history of what she is writing really shines through.
I loved the book from beginning to end. I found this to be very moving at times. I’m so glad I took the time to read this.
850 reviews4 followers
May 1, 2021
This is a blockbuster story of the Nazis in America, but mainly in Newark New Jersey. I was mesmerized by this book. This is an absolute must read novel based on fact and is an incredibly
powerful read. There are many layers to the story that struck many emotions and thoughts about the situation as well as the characters.
Profile Image for _sassy_39.
1,516 reviews54 followers
November 16, 2020
Newark Minutemen is a historical novel by the author Leslie K Barry. Story is set in 1930s when boxing was a popular sport in America. Jewish boxers were recruited by Mob King Longie Zwillman and trained by champion fighter Nat Arno to help the FBI fight a Hitler-shadow party of Nazis taking over America. These boxers are the Newark Minuteman. Longie Zwillman, a 34 years old man is the godfather of Newark, New Jersey. Yael's father was murdered by Nazis in 1933 and his mother died after listening to the unfortunate news of his father's death. Since then, Longie is the guardian of Yael and his brothers. Longie’s mobsters and the FBI formed an unholy alliance to plug Hitler from seeing his budding Nazi army in America.

As the story progresses, Yael meets Krista Brecht who is the daughter of German-American Nazi high command. As he shook hands with her, he could feel the current running through him.
Axel Von du Croy, son of Von du Croy from Germany announced about getting married to Krista. Krista herself was unaware of this. She is attending Camp Siegfried, a German Bund Camp in Long Island. A Nazi with a Jew definitely gonna be a trouble. Read this story to know what happens in the story next.

Leslie must have done vast research before writing this book. Although it's a lengthy novel and took me much time to finish but it is worth reading. If you are interested in history to know more about the wars and the tensions between two countries, you couldn't put this book down. I wasn't aware about this part of American history. Book is written very well. Cover of the book looks nice and title is apt.
4 reviews
October 15, 2020
A very important part of history, but I couldn't get beyond the grammatical errors and writing style to finish reading this book. 😞
1 review1 follower
May 16, 2020
Wonderful. The writing is clear and compelling, the characters feel genuine and complex, and it zooms along like a thriller. One of those wow who knew stories. It would be a great read even if it wasn't scarily on point for our current political times - which it is.
Profile Image for C. Gonzales.
782 reviews27 followers
November 6, 2020
This is a powerful, beautiful story and not to be missed. It is not at all necessary to understand the time period to appreciate everything there is to experience in this novel.

I finished the book very quickly, but I will be thinking about the questions raised for a long time to come.
Profile Image for Terry Marsh.
Author 1 book1 follower
April 19, 2021
In an electrifying adventure full of romance and suspense, Leslie Kaplan Barry makes the bold choice to tell a spellbinding story through the minds and hearts of her main characters on both sides of the divide. Based on actual events, we are reminded that evil exists in the world, that psychopaths and narcissists start wars and destroy lives, and that without the sacrifices of a courageous few in each generation, peace and freedom would perish from the earth.
Profile Image for Leslie Barry.
Author 1 book37 followers
June 26, 2020
“A roller coaster ride of revenge and avenge. Inglorious Bastards, Peaky Blinders, and Titanic all rolled into one.”–Kevin Joseph, producer, Fulwell 73 Productions

“An almost unbelievable true tale of the 1930s. Imagining Nazi swastikas draped across George Washington’s portrait feels like a sinister made-for-movie dystopian story.”–Susan Turley, documentary film producer and executive producer, XRM Media

“Newark Minutemen is a fascinating account about America’s lost history. The unholy alliance of the mob and FBI prevented the story from being printed until now. An untold family story that was meant to be told.”–Steve Katz, senior vice president, CBS Corp.

“The unlikely love affair in Newark Minutemen carries the epic conflict of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story and the Titanic’s Jack and Rose.”–Leo Pearlman, managing partner and producer, Fulwell 73

“Newark Minutemen tells the inspiring story of how an unlikely group of Jewish boxers helped wake up Depression-era Americans to Nazis on our doorstep. It is the book for anyone interested in understanding how complacency can be our worst enemy and how the Newark Minutemen were a heroic example of how to fight back.”–Ethan Tuttle, Congressional intern and University of Maryland student

“Leslie K. Barry’s narrative brings to life in vivid detail a lost era of heroes who give voice to victims even as authorities turn a blind eye.”–Stacy Friedman, rabbi, Congregation Rodef Sholom

“A rare perspective of 1930s American defending their own soil.”–Lt. David Hall, United States Navy

“Newark Minutemen is a timeless tale of the vigilance, intelligence, and surveillance necessary to thwart vulnerabilities against our country.”–Robin Abrams, former director Investigative Services, Entertainment Security Company

“Newark Minutemen is a fascinating story made even more potent by the author’s personal connection. A must read!”–Rabbi Stacia Deutsch, New York Times bestselling author

“A dramatic tale of the brave Newark Minutemen who with muscular patriotism stopped the American-Nazi’s from wiping their feet on the soul of America.”–William S. Hochman, short story writer and Newark resident from 1935–1942 who vividly remembers the dangers posed by the German American Bund

“A striking and poignant tale of an oft-neglected part of U.S. history, including the rise of the pro-Nazi movement that gathered 20,000 supporters in Madison Square Garden in 1939 and recruited children to attend Nazi summer camps in New York. An important reminder of the dangers of anti-Semitism and white Nationalism that are still prevalent in our country today.”–Samantha Parent Walravens, award-winning journalist and New York Times acclaimed author

“The history of the Nazis’ rise to power in the U.S. should be part of every high school curriculum. Why do we not learn about this in school? Recognizing the vulnerability of our democracy will inspire my generation to pay attention to what’s happening in the world, to become more involved, and to not take our freedoms from granted.”–Satchel Kaplan, high school student

"Based on a true 1930s story, Newark Minutemen tells an unforgettable tale about forbidden love, intrigue and a courageous man’s search for avenge.
During the heart of the Great Depression, Yael Newman fatefully meets Krista Brecht, daughter of the German-American Nazi high command. When his affections turn from superficial to real, his friends warn him against crossing the line.
When Krista leaves for American Nazi summer camp in Long island, New York, he swears to rescue her. But his mission becomes much more when he is recruited by the Jewish mob and FBI to go undercover and fight the American Nazis taking over America."
1 review1 follower
April 30, 2020
An incredible true story about unknown heroes that takes place in the United States during the 1930s~ fascinating and compelling ~ hard to put down ~ a must-read!!
April 13, 2020
What an exciting read. It was quite the page turner!! It usually takes me weeks or more to finish a book but O finishes Newark Minutemen in just a few days. You can tell this author wrote this with love and put her soul into it. BRAVO!! I can’t wait to read your next masterpiece too.
Profile Image for Rachel.
1,680 reviews16 followers
March 12, 2021
Novels based on true stories: there are several ways these can be written. One is to create characters who borrow from the experience of real people, but who are definitely fictional. Another is to treat a real person as a character and write a fictionalized version of a biography or memoir. Two recent novels offer versions of both types of novels. While “Newark Minutemen” by Leslie Barry (Morgan James Publishing) features several real life characters, its main protagonists are only loosely based on real people. “Sargeant Salinger” by Jerome Charyn (Bellevue Literary Press), on the other hand, imagines the experiences and thoughts of J. D. Salinger before the writer became famous. Both novels take place before and during World War II, although Barry concentrates on events in the U.S. while the majority of Charyn’s work focuses on events in England and the European continent.
See the rest of my review at https://www.thereportergroup.org/past...
1 review1 follower
October 5, 2020
A Time in History Worth Remembering

The events of these times of Nazi infiltration in our history should never be overlooked or forgotten,lest they be repeated. Newark Minutemen takes us back to that time, with both engaging characters to root for, and characters heartily against. The plot can turn dark at times,but adds to the overall intensity. A heartfelt ending as well. Worth a read.
Profile Image for Samantha Turley.
540 reviews11 followers
November 5, 2020
I liked the historical background to the evolving story. It really added another element to the story and gave it heart. I think the fact that the author knows the history of what she is writing really shines through.
I loved the book from beginning to end. I found this to be very moving at times. I’m so glad I took the time to read this.
Profile Image for Cortney Donelson.
Author 5 books11 followers
April 19, 2020
This is a phenomenal historical fiction tale based on true events. I highly recommend! The author is an incredible story-teller, building characters and settings that have depth and tension. Everyone should know this story, and everyone will love this book.
45 reviews1 follower
September 18, 2020
Loved this book! Compelling story and well written. This was a part of American history I was unaware of. Scary to think things could’ve turned out so differently had the Nazi party in our country gained the power they sought here. We have to keep our eyes open.
1 review
July 24, 2020
Fascinating read! A captivating take on a piece of American history lost to the history books. Couldn’t put it down!
1,614 reviews13 followers
July 20, 2021
Princess Fuzzypants here: This is a true but largely unknown story that will both fascinate and repel, excite and frustrate. Most people think the Nazis only concerned themselves with events in Europe both before and after they attacked Poland. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sadly, there were many people who admired Hitler and the Nazis in both the UK and America. Some were celebrities who used their fame to entice others to the cause. People like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Charles Lindbergh were some whose admiration blinded people to the evil. But even those who know something of the Quislings amongst us have no idea of the pernicious spread that threatened liberties at home.

This is a story of a rag tag group of Jewish boxers in Newark NJ, who may have skirted the lines between legal and illegal activities, who did what the people like the police and the FBI and so many others were unwilling to do. They attacked the Nazis who were trying to turn America into another Nazi Germany. The Bund was using the very things like the freedom of speech and the right to bear arms against the democracy it was trying to bring down. This book, which is based on a true story, shows just how close the Nazis came to realizing their dream. It is chilling.

The two protagonists are fictional but based on two real people. Many of the characters in the book lived the story, including the author’s family. It was from the stories that 90 year old Esther told that the genesis of the book began. Many conversations and much research later a book emerged that should be read by any student of history. It shows how complacency in the face of hatred can destroy people. We all need to be vigilant and not let it happen again.

Five purrs and two paws up.
Profile Image for Allyson.
59 reviews
February 4, 2021
I thought this was a bit hard to follow because the character POV changed so often. Sometimes one POV only lasted a few short paragraphs before flipping to the next character. The characters all had similar voices too, so it wasn’t easy to distinguish who was who due to the flatness. Sometimes I need to flip back a few pages to figure out who’s POV I was reading.

It was hard to follow the timeline of what was happening too. Having dates at least at the beginning of each chapter if not each character would add tremendous value. Towards the end of the book, it feels like everything is gearing up for Feb. 20 and progressing, but then a news scene sets the date at the November beforehand. Then as quickly as the November date was introduced, it is February.

Last, the epilogue switched to a supernatural POV, which wasn’t present in the book until that point. It was an odd switch right at the end and didn’t feel natural.

Despite these drawbacks, the overall story was incredibly interesting. I didn’t know there were Nazis in America and that they had such a following, so it was a great way to see a new piece of (fictionalized) history.
Profile Image for Marsha.
51 reviews
October 23, 2020
The subject is fascinating, but the execution less so. It's about Jewish boxers working with the FBI and organized crime to counter the rise of American Nazis in the 1930s. Evidently, most of the shocking events in the book were true, and I was quite interested in learning more about them. I wish it were a nonfiction book, as the fictionalized narrative left much to be desired. I like a romance as much as the next person, but between the Jewish boxer and the daughter of a Nazi official? The narrative strains credulity, especially with some plot twists that I don't want to reveal.

And this author needs a better editor. The attempt at a Jersey dialect involved simply an annoying dropping of the 'g' at the end of words, even in the characters' thoughts. And there were a few inexcusable grammar/spelling errors (gave it to 'her and I', she couldn't 'bare' the pain, anyone who 'mettles' with us--that sort of thing).

There's a good story in there somewhere, and I wish this had been better.

Profile Image for R.K. Emery.
902 reviews30 followers
November 4, 2020
That synopsis completely drew me in. I knew I wanted to read this novel and had high hopes for the story and writing.
There are a lot of moving parts to this novel and it did take me a bit to settle in and fully understand everything that was going on. That being said, this is a very active book that is full of historical references and nuances.

You will not be disappointed by the writing and book Barry has created.
Profile Image for Victoria.
203 reviews
January 29, 2021
An important story for sure. After a Q and A session with author Leslie Barry, I learned that how truly personal this story is to her family and how important it is to pay attention to history as we navigate the present.
As important as the story is, I wish I liked the execution more. There are a lot of changing 1st person POV sections (at least 4 POVs), even within chapters, which was a bit disorienting to me at times.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews

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