Defenders of Freedom

by Vince Parrillo on Feb 6, 2016 in Featured, Historical via Best Books
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Taking place primarily between 1907 and 1919, this story—based on actual events—is about people who fought for the rights denied to some by the majority. It is the story of advocates for immigrants, of activists for women’s right to vote, and of one man who, as Commissioner of Immigration for the Port of New York, defied his Washington bosses, and even Congress, to ensure that victims of patriotic hysteria would have due process of law.

Matt Stafford, readers will remember from “Guardians of the Gate” (2013), was the stalwart doctor involved in a torrid love affair and a man of integrity amidst the corruption at Ellis Island around the turn of the century. Now settled down and enjoying a pleasant family life, he will soon encounter more turmoil at and near Ellis Island, including scandals, congressional investigations, saboteurs, massive and deadly explosions, and a beautiful, seductive spy placed under his care.

Nicole, Matt’s wife and a mother, finds herself slowly drawn into the woman suffrage movement. As she becomes more active in it, she and her fellow suffragettes will experience harsh, brutal treatment that none of them could ever have imagined.

Fred Howe, an idealist and progressive, will leave Cleveland after a decade of satisfying political and social activities, and move to New York City with his wife, Marie Jenney, a prominent feminist. Benefiting from his political ties, Fred will eventually be appointed Commissioner of Ellis Island. Determined to end its prison-like environment and improve immigrant conditions, his enthusiasm leads to positive changes. Soon, though, political opportunists, war with Germany, and anarchists will impact so strongly upon Ellis Island that he finds his tenure as commissioner severely challenged.

As readers follow and learn to care about these three characters and their interweaving story lines, they will also learn much about this era in U.S. history and the ordinary people caught up in a series of unfolding dramatic events.

About the author:

Vince is professor of sociology at William Paterson University, twice receiving its Faculty Achievement Award for Distinguished Scholarship and Creative Expression. He wrote four award-winning PBS television documentaries, including "Ellis Island: Gateway to America." An expert on immigration and Fulbright scholar, he was keynote speaker at a dozen international conferences.

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