When We Argued All Night

Written by Alice Mattison
Review by Wisteria Leigh

Along a lake in the Adirondack Mountains near a cabin in the woods, Artie Saltzman and Harold Abramowitz, friends since the third grade, thought they had the place to themselves for a week. In 1936 they are 26 and have no money and no girls, but that is about to change. Two women arrive, claiming to be the daughters of the owner. Although a bit skeptical, the two men agree to share their cabin. Better yet, the women have money and promise to bring back dinner.

Mattison begins her story during the Great Depression, and the novel is a historical field trip through the decades with Artie and Harold, witnesses who lived through it. Their cohesive bond of friendship seems eternal. They experience World War II and are shocked and weep when the chairman of the World Jewish Congress confirms the extermination of approximately two million Jews in Germany. The year is 1942. Roosevelt dies in 1945. When the Feinberg Law is passed in 1949, teachers are at risk; however, the Red Scare infiltrates the lives of Americans everywhere. It is during this time when Harold and Artie would argue all night. Harold, now a professor and Communist Party member, is at particular risk, but it is Artie who must face a difficult decision that would alter their friendship forever.

As the decades pass, the air raid drills of the Fifties and the Civil Rights struggle of the Sixties are further anchors of history that add vivid realism to Mattison’s novel. Artie and Harold could be anyone, male or female, young or old, who embrace the love of friendship and the power to forgive. Alice Mattison has a magic writing pen. When We Argued All Night is an irresistible story with universal appeal.