“A methodical, convincing story of political upheaval.” Kirkus Reviews
Round up all the Jews. It happened in Germany, Spain, England, and France. Could it happen in America. An atomic bomb destroys Tel Aviv, severing Israel. Two ships carrying Jewish refugees limp into Boston harbor. As the ships are to be returned to the new nation of Palestine, Boston Jews free the refugees, killing ten Coast Guardsmen. Arrests of these new “enemy combatants” are met with marches and bombings as American Jews struggle to balance their loyalty to America with the realization that “never again” has become “not now, not here.” The confrontation between America and her Jewish citizens escalates, driven, as with so many violent clashes, by forces seemingly beyond all parties’ control. The author, a civil rights lawyer, paints a chilling picture of a future America in which leading citizens become enemy combatants subjected to detention, torture and worse. Could this happen in America? German Jews thought it could never happen to them, until it was too late.
Publication date: November 24, 2018 by Köehlerbooks. Click the cover to preorder from Amazon.
Some Reader Comments
Not many books hit me so profoundly that when I’m going through my daily life I find myself mulling over them. Martin Gidron’s “The Severed Wing”, Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policemens Union”… and now “The Reluctant Terrorist”. All give not only food for thought, but entire banquets. In the Reluctant Terrorist, any American Jew will find him/herself wondering “what would I do?”. The writing is crisp and the scenarios very plausible. Israel – G-d Forbid! – destroyed, and the US does nothing but watch and ignore. Worse yet, refugees attempting to enter the country refused – the St. Louis atrocity all over again. Where Eric Rozenman’s “Total Jihad” has the Christian characters become the mainstay, Mr. Schwartz succeeds in keeping the majority of the characters Jews – Jews living and helping and dying because the rest of the country is turning against them – tired of Middle East entanglements, influenced by pro-Palestinian propaganda, and fearful of “$5 a gallon gasoline.” Mr. Schwartz shows two uncomfortable aspects of our society – how quickly we are willing to give up freedoms and honour in the name of “security” – and how desperately necessary the State of Israel is to the Jewish people. With Israel gone, the Jews have nowhere to go, and lose that protection such a haven offers. As with Chabon’s YPU, with nowhere to go, the Jews are left without options, and a powerless people is an exposed, vulnerable people. During my read – and the book is definitely a page turner! – I found myself NOTICING things being said in real life more… “Oh, there are Jews in the Marines?”, “You Jews stick together, that’s for sure”… I heard these things said, and they suddenly had an entirely new import. On that note… I like and appreciate that the Jewish characters are not show as all good or without warts – far from it. They are shown as people with the foibles and weaknesses of all HUMANS.
It also shows how the new anti-terrorism laws can be used to discriminate against any ethnic group in the US. I highly recommend this book.