Since its beginning as a small Dutch hamlet, the trading post at the mouth of the Hudson has had a history unmatched by any other settlement. Over the centuries, its landscape changed and with it the city itself. From its humble beginnings, it soon became the magnet for the thousands of refugees escaping the oppression overseas in the hope of finding freedom and a sense of fair play in the New World. A dream for a better life. A dream to make it in a totally different landscape. A dream that couldn’t be met in their homeland.
Its sprawling neighborhoods, each an entity unique to the fabric of the city that Jacob Riis, a Danish immigrant-turned-muckraker progressive, characterized as ‘a crazy quilt,’ giving each section a distinct New York character. No where is that uniqueness found than in Hell’s Kitchen, the stretch along the Westside from 34-57 Streets west of 8th Avenue.
From the early Irish immigrants to today’s gentrified, upscale migrants, it was a New York story replete with the most notorious gangs, criminals, impoverished immigrants and others struggling to eke out a living. From the bootleggers to the draft riots of the Civil War, the historic area took on a life of its own and over the years, in the confines of Times Square, saw an additional horde of drug deals, prostitution, political corruption and runaway youths.
Yet, the Hell’s Kitchen of today, retaining its diversity, reveals something else. Its strong spirit of community with the myriad of social networks has attracted people from all over the world. The struggling actor from the Midwest, the hard-working African, Latin American and Asian immigrants, the job-seeking college graduate all have one goal—to make it in the city. The dream that was first witnessed by the earliest immigrants coming ashore is still an ongoing one. A New York story.
In his first novel, John V. Amodeo displays the magic of a young, naïve and frightened Irish immigrant coming ashore in 1848 at the height of the potato famine that ravaged his native land. A Captain’s Coin, just released by Trestle Press tells the story of a young and alone Michael Brady coming to New York and eventually rising up the ladder through hard work and a will to survive. His dream, like so many before and after him, allows the reader to appreciate the sacrifices and the desire to excel despite overwhelming odds. He succeeds in life, rising to the corporate ladder and becomes an instant hero at the Battle of Antietam in the Civil War. Coming home, he is a national hero, having saved the Union and allowing Lincoln to finally issue his iconic Emancipation Proclamation as a result of the victory.
The Captain’s Coin, heart-breaking and uplifting, embodies the dream that so many have sought. Distrust, anger, hurt gives way to strength, hope and triumph. It is indeed a New York story.
The Amazon Kindle link for “The Captain’s Coin” is : http://www.amazon.com/The-Captains-Coin-ebook/dp/B006XZA600/ref=sr_...