Divide the Dawn: Fight

Written by Eamon Loingsigh
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

This is an epic novel of gang warfare during the winter and into the summer of 1919, fought along the waterfront of Brooklyn, New York. The Irish White Hand, led by Dinny Mechan, currently controls the Red Hook District of Brooklyn, which includes the longshoremen who load and unload the ships. Wild Bill Lovett returns from the war with a vengeance: to take the leadership away from Dinny. The Longshoremen’s Union, along with the Black Hand, an Italian gang, may have a say in who controls the waterfront.

Major characters include young Liam Garrihy, who works for Dinny and wants to rise up in the ranks; Darby Leighton, working for Wild Bill, is ordered to find Anna Lonergan, a former love interest of Bill’s before the war, and the location of Sadie Mechan, the absent wife of Dinny. When Detective William Brosman is found murdered, his son-in-law Danny Culkin looks for the culprit and tries to pin the murder on Dinny.

This novel is historical writing at its best. The gang war between the Irish factions, along with the Italian mob, all wanting to control the waterfront during the early 20th century, results in an exceptional story of love, cruelty, vengeance, and hope. The author flavors his narrative with just enough detail of life in the slums of New York, describing the daily living conditions of the poor and those helpless to deal with the gangs. If you enjoyed reading the book or watching Gangs of New York, set in the 1920s, this novel will provide a worthy comparison.