We talk to novelist Beverly Swerling about the latest in her historical series about Old New York, City of God: A Novel of Passion and Wonder in Old New York. Also, children’s book author Richard Michelson, tells us about his latest, AS GOOD AS ANYBODY: Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom.
[amazon-product text=”CITY OF GOD” type=”text”]1416549226[/amazon-product] is Beverly Swerling’s latest novel in a series about Old New York. Dating from its founding as a Dutch colony, they include the earlier City of Dreams and City of Glory. It takes place in the 1830’s, a time when the city was experiencing explosive growth. Immigrants were flooding in: from China as part of NY’s burgeoning trade, the Irish fleeing poverty only to find it here. Jews from Germany swelled the tiny population of Portuguese Jews who had been in New York since it belonged to the Dutch. The ranks of the poor grew as the rich got richer, heightening class tensions.
New York was pro-slavery, but it also was seething with abolitionist fervor, promoted by the growing evangelical movement. But while the evangelicals condemned slavery, they promoted religious bigotry against Catholics and Jews. Swerling throws the reader into this cauldron of social change while telling a gripping story of love and betrayal, following two families, the Turners and the Devreys.
Monday Jan 19 is Matin Luther King, Jr. day—and the day after, January 20, will see the inauguration of Barack Obama, the first African American president of the US. I wish King could have seen this day. But I also know that King would have wanted us to keep Obama’s feet to the fire on his promise to get out of Iraq—and I doubt he would have approved the war in Afghanistan that Obama has pledged to expand. King was opposed to violence and injustice on religious principle, as well as humanitarian grounds.
He was joined in this by his friend Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel—an opponent of the Vietnam War, along with King.Â As children, the two men both were victims of hate —one here, the other in Europe. As grown ups they came together at the March on Selma to defeat hate and promote love between all people.
Richard Michelson has written many children’s books—and several have been on the theme of friendship between Jews and African Americans. Earlier on WV, we talked to him about Across the Alley, his book about the friendship between two boys in Brooklyn, one Jewish, the other black. His latest on that theme is [amazon-product text=”AS GOOD AS ANYBODY: Martin Luther King Jr and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom” type=”text”]0375833358[/amazon-product].
Read an article from Peaceworks Magazine about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Heschel.