Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Written by Jack Martin
Review by Viviane Crystal

In the 1930s, America is clearly a county in transition. The economy is on a downward spiral, and the majority of citizens are turning to anyone offering a change of fortune. Criminal bosses control the flow of money, liquor, etc. Senator Huey Long controls politicians, affluent businessmen, and the general population, who demand social and economic parity. A pipe dream?

Suddenly, an assassination attempt on President Franklin Delano Roosevelt indicates that someone is looking for a different, radical leader who will provide the same hope that the “madman” Adolf Hitler offers to the German people. FBI Director Herbert Hoover hates being powerless, and so he assigns agent Harry Bierce to find out who is truly behind the attempted assassination. This is the story of Bierce’s mission and his free-wheeling, independent, supposedly willy-nilly methods that will get the job done, with Hoover’s reluctant approval.

This is an intriguing novel because the narrator assumes a neutral stance, which compels the reader to admit that all men have positive and negative attributes, that motives are complex, that one may have to overlook the tyrannical control of a leader in order for the common man to receive a decent wage, education, and so on. It’s also the story of the infamous couple, Bonnie and Clyde, a secret cult supporting the German Führer, and so much more. The pace never slackens, and yet we can’t stop reading because we have no idea whether a solution or resolution is around the corner. The title, an actual poem/song, accurately reflects America’s power and weakness, a theme pervading every page of this excellent historical novel. Highly recommended, indeed!