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Publisher's Summary

Declaring war on homegrown Nazis…in Newark, New Jersey.

Join writer and documentary producer Greg Donahue as he explores the history of domestic Nazis on the brink of World War II and the Jewish mobsters who stood up to them in this gripping, true-life audiobook.

In the early 1930s, pro-Nazi groups popped up across America, attempting to drum up support among recent immigrants for the fascist movement back in Europe. By 1939, a massive rally of some 20,000 homegrown Nazi supporters was held in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. While across the Hudson River in Newark, New Jersey, the town’s large German population stepped up Nazi recruitment activity. Pro-fascist groups staged parades, screened anti-Semitic films, and organized boycotts of Jewish businesses and politicians throughout the city. Complicating matters, Newark was also the epicenter of the Jewish mob.

Abner 'Longie' Zwillman, known as the "Al Capone of New Jersey", had made a fortune in gambling, bootlegging, racketeering, and controlled the city’s ports and police force. Not surprisingly, this powerful Jewish gangster took exception to the Nazi’s anti-Semitic platform. In response, Zwillman helped organize a group of ex-boxers, factory workers, and students to defend the city’s Jewish interests. The group dubbed themselves the Minutemen - ready at a moment’s notice - and took to breaking up Nazi gatherings using an intimidating combination of stink bombs, baseball bats, brass knuckles, and pure chutzpah.

Greg Donahue’s The Minuteman tells the story of one of Newark’s native sons - ex-prizefighter and longtime Zwillman enforcer Sidney Abramowitz, aka Nat Arno - who took over leadership of the Minutemen in 1934 and made it his personal business to put an end to what he saw as the homegrown Nazi movement’s "anti-American" activities. For six years, Arno and his crew of vigilantes battled Newark’s Nazis at every turn. The Minuteman is a story of the ethics of violence in the face of fascism - a forgotten legacy that is as relevant now as it was nearly a hundred years ago.

Photos Included in Cover Art Courtesy of the Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey - Warren Grover Collection

©2019 Greg Donahue (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.

Our favorite moments from The Minuteman

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About the Creator

Greg Donahue is a writer and documentary filmmaker whose work has appeared in Atavist Magazine, The Guardian, Discovery, Vice, Al Jazeera, and Marie Claire, among others. He currently resides in New York City with his wife and daughter.

About the Performer

Jonathan Davis is a critically acclaimed narrator and voice-over actor. Jonathan's work as a narrator includes films and programming for National Geographic Television, NOVA, and PBS. He has narrated over 500 audiobooks, a variety of bestsellers, and award-winners for the top publishing houses and national audio divisions, including over 40 titles of the Star Wars franchise. Jonathan has participated with Star Wars Celebration and has built a significant fan base. He is a three-time recipient and 16-time nominee of the celebrated Audie Award, presented for excellence in audiobook narration. His work has been acclaimed by The New York Times, AudioFile Magazine, and USA Today. In 2017, Jonathan was inducted into Audible's Narrator Hall of Fame.

What listeners say about The Minuteman

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Antifa compared to Minutemen I don’t think so!

Antifa May call themselves Anti-fascists but in truth they represent the ultimate in fascism! This book lost me when they began with the premise that The Minuteman movement in New Jersey actually compared with this group. Antifa could much more actually be compared with the Hitler Youth.

44 people found this helpful

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Political propaganda dressed as history

While on the outside the story is presented as a lesson in little known history, it is quickly shown that this story will be a strawman to support the ANTIFA movement and a justification for their terroristic methods. Though to be fair the author does admit by the end that the subject and his methods that had been glorified throughout may not have had any true impact other than to justify anti Semitic sentiment at the time.

28 people found this helpful

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Interesting, but not great

I had actually been pretty ignorant to how much traction the Nazi movement had gained here in the US leading up to WWII, so in that way I found this story fairly interesting as I’ll definitely dig into that a bit further. Overall however I found myself disengaged in the story. On one hand, Arno and The Minutemen stood up against the evils of Naziism and anti-semitism, which I applaud, but on another hand, is violence ever really the answer? I do like how the author sums it up in the end as we either see him as a thug or a hero, because that’s certainly the two perspectives I wavered between while listening, but it’s also why I didn’t really enjoy the story.

24 people found this helpful

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Interesting listen, but worrying message

As a historical account of a dire time in America’s history, this is an interesting piece. Anyone interested in American domestic history regarding WW2 and the events leading to it, this audible won’t bore you.

However, the author connects the 1930s gangster-led movement against American nazism to ANTIFA, and even describes the Minutemen (aforementioned gangsters) as a “precursors to ANTIFA”. The author even goes on to state “violence proved an effective tactic against fascism” at one point. The author makes no attempt to hide his endorsement of ANTIFA.

Regardless of anyone’s support of ANTIFA, I worry what message this audible sends. Is violent protest ok if you really, really don’t agree with someone? And what is fascism, exactly? Nazis, obviously, are fascists, but ANTIFA doesn’t only attack nazis, but they attack anything that fits their own version of fascism, which is generally just about anyone they don’t agree with.

To sum it up, this audible is interesting at best, and reckless at worse. Interesting story, unnerving execution and message.

93 people found this helpful

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ANTIFA...really?

Look, I love learning about history which is the very I chose this book, but come on. I mean the moment the author compared The Minutemen to ANTIFA, I'd completely lost interest. I don't really like getting political, but ANTIFA is a group who attacks people who they don't agree with. That includes the innocent. So I simply won't support this book, nor will I reccomend it to anyone. Unfortunately, I just couldn't make myself listen to the rest of the story because of this. It's a shame because I do like reading books pertaining to WWII.

10 people found this helpful

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Disjointed

This short story bordered on interesting and valuable information, but the narrative jumped around in a non-constructive way.

10 people found this helpful

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I couldn’t...

really get invested in the story. Maybe my fault but it just didn’t get my attention.

10 people found this helpful

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Well Done Introduction to an Ambivalent History

This one is so up my alley (or, as the case may be, down my dark alley) that I can’t be neutral about it.

In this case, that’s a good thing. I could easily get irritated with someone who didn’t know what he was doing in narrating a history of a Jewish boxer/gangster who set out to attack Nazi Bundists in the 1930s. Instead, Greg Donahue does this with a real flair for narrative and without the can-you-believe-there-were-tough-Jews tone that many lesser writers might have brought.

The result here is the riveting story of Nat Arno, a Longy Zwillman tough guy charged with leading the Minutemen, a group of Jewish shtarkers who broke up Bund meetings throughout Newark, NJ and greater New York City area.

The idea of such characters isn’t new – Robert Rockaway wrote about many of them from across the country in his But – He was Good to His Mother years ago. But this book (or long booklet) is a valuable addition to that history. I knew that Zwillman contributed a lot to anti-Bundist work, but I’d never heard of Arno, and I’d certainly never seen his story so focused.

In addition to recounting a battle after battle chronicle of Arno’s life, Donahue raises some intriguing questions about the nature of Jewish self-defense. The nature of the story inclines him to see it as a good thing – he appreciatively quotes Jewish gangster authority Myron Sugarman saying that, if Jews had always defended themselves in such a way there’d be no anti-Semitism – but Donahue does raise the opposite perspective. There are many in the Jewish community who continue to believe that anti-anti-Semitic violence does more harm than good.

In a compelling wrap-up, Donahue reflects on how long it took for the Jewish community to acknowledge Arno’s accomplishments, and he sees it as a reflection of the deep ambivalence about his approach.

This one is short, probably too short to raise those larger questions in full, but it’s perhaps the finest I have read of the free books Audible gives out each month for members. An impressive job, and a good way to glimpse a larger history that I’ve worked to tell myself.

32 people found this helpful

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great listen for history fans

great story, and one I'd never heard of. Excellent freebie! sans of Peaky Blinders, Inglorious Bastards and Boardwalk Empire will enjoy this.

59 people found this helpful

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Wonderful

Such an enlightening book. I wish it were even longer, so much could be told.

24 people found this helpful