Monday, July 28, 2014

G377 Book Review of The New Men by Jon Enfield

Name of Book: The New Men

Author: Jon Enfield

ISBN: 9781938757129

Publisher: Wayzgoose Press

Type of book: Detroit Michigan, Italy, immigration, 'new men', Henry Ford, 1900s-1920s, race relations, Judaism, family, support, Sociological department, Five Dollar Days, cars, WWI, "Polar Bears", Russia Archangel

Year it was published: 2014


"For us, the new man, he is one of two things. First, he is the new worker, a man we instruct and investigate until his probation is complete. But also he is an idea. In the foundry, they make parts. On the line, they make autos. But in Sociological, we make men."

Tony Grams comes to America at the start of the twentieth century, set on becoming a new man. Driven to leave poverty behind, he lands a job at the Ford Motor Company that puts him at the center of a daring social and economic experiment.

The new century and the new auto industry are bursting with promise, and everyone wants Henry Ford’s Model T. But Ford needs men to make it. Better men. New men. Men tough enough and focused enough to handle the ever-bigger, ever-faster assembly line. Ford offers to double the standard wage for men who will be thrifty, sober, and dedicated… and who will let Ford investigators into their homes to confirm it.

Tony has just become one of those investigators. America and Ford have helped him build a new life, so at first he’s eager to get to work. But world war, labor strife, and racial tension pit his increasingly powerful employer against its increasingly desperate enemies.

As Tony and his family come under threat from all sides and he faces losing everything he’s built, he must struggle with his conscience and his weaknesses to protect the people he loves.
is conscience and his weaknesses to protect the people he loves.


The main characters include Tony (Antonio) Grams who comes from an impoverished childhood in Italy and also happens to have problems. He looks up to his older brother and supports his family on his salary. He is a lapsed Catholic and works for Sociological (Educational) Department for Ford. Very little character buildup as a child is given for him. The other character includes Thia, possibly an only daughter of a lapsed Jew physician. She was widowed and lost a child plus had a miscarriage and went through hysterectomy. Considering the sensitive issues of being a woman as well as losing ability to have children and coming from a religion that encourages fertility, I think I would have appreciated if perhaps more of Thia's journey would be shown as seen through her eyes instead of Tony's eyes. What does she think as she goes through these issues? Other characters include Thia's father who is treats people equally no matter their race or origin as well as Tony's family members such as Kitty and Angela, sisters who are opposite as day and night as well as the reporter Ross. I also guess a character sheet might have helped out a bit.


To be honest, I have no idea what I should have learned from the book


The story is told in first person narrative from Tony's point of view, and the story as well as point of view is linear, although in beginning the reader does get a sense for where Tony came from and why he seems to be the way he is. Probably I enjoyed the story up until Tony meets Cynthia (Thia,) and after his affair with her, the story sort of fell for me. I also imagine that certain things will make it an awkward reading such as papers being this way;(news) 'papers, or phone this way; (tele)'phoned. There is also use of some derogatory terms, although its more for historical context, and one word I couldn't understand was bouche. The story is also more action oriented rather than character oriented and in my opinion is more told than show.

Author Information:
(from TLC)

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Enfield ebookAbout Jon Enfield

Jon Enfield has written for a range of audiences and publications. His work has appeared in ConjunctionsPoetry Ireland ReviewUnderground VoicesXavier Review, and He is a former fiction editor of Chicago Review, and he taught writing at the University of Southern California for several years. He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago for his dissertation on the relationships between American film and fiction 1910-1940. The New Men arose from his longstanding fascination with America in the early twentieth century and from his sense that the emergence and evolution of the American auto industry shed light on some fundamental realities of present-day America.
Connect with Jon on his blog, To Burn from Within.


In beginning the story and the book had potential for me: after all I don't know much about Henry Ford, besides the fact he was anti-Jewish and that he thought Protocols of the Elder of Zion were true as well as helped distribute that piece of trash in 1920s. Okay, let's get back to the story. The story stopped being interesting for me when Tony moves to "present" day in 1910s. I think that transitions were handled poorly and in some cases I had trouble understanding time period. While its pretty awesome that the author researched and went painstakingly through the book to make sure the details were accurate, I would guess that too much of a good thing can be considered distracting. The characters also weren't really fleshed out as I'd hoped, and yes, they were pretty interesting. There was so much going on, that I got a sense there was uncertainty on what to focus on or devote most attention to. By the way, really love the cover.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Jon Enfield’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, July 14th: Fiction Zeal
Wednesday, July 16th: Bibliotica
Thursday, July 17th: Life is Story
Monday, July 21st: Lavish Bookshelf
Tuesday, July 22nd: Missris
Wednesday, July 23rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, July 28th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, July 29th:  Wensend
Thursday, July 31st: Books on the Table
Monday, August 4th:  50 Books Project
Tuesday, August 5th:  Jen’s Book Thoughts
Wednesday, August 6th:  Bibliophilliac
Thursday, August 7th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, August 11th:  Walking with Nora
Wednesday, August 13th:  Readers’ Oasis
Thursday, August 14th:  Joyfully Retired
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.


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