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The Nonfiction Book Awards. Our reviewers have completed the evaluation process and I’m happy to report that The Front Row: My Jagged Journey Recording American History Reagan to Trump earned a SILVER award.


Official NFAA Review

Good, descriptive language in The Front Row by author Gerard Shields makes it easy to visualize the places where events took place and transport readers into the moment. Full of interesting stories about political figures, industrialists, people in positions of power delivered from a gritty investigative journalist viewpoint make for good storytelling. Historians and political enthusiasts will find this book an engaging read. But the author doesn’t stop there. Readers also get a front row seat to some of the painful moments of his own life as he describes being committed to a hospital and enduring the end of a marriage. Overall a positive, revealing picture of a young man’s journey to becoming an award-winning journalist.

- Nonfiction Authors Association Book Awards Program



FLATIRON-Flatiron, one of Philadelphia's most industrial neighborhoods, was settled by the Delaware River in the 1830s by English sea merchants, and for a time was one of the most productive enclaves in the nation. The residents of Flatiron built the railroads and the factories and fisheries and textile mills. Before long, the factory owners were building rows upon rows of red brick houses for their workers. Each two-story home was connected and stood 14-feet wide, with no one getting more or less. A Catholic section, residents called the homes"Father, Son and Holy Ghost houses"for their three-room makeup. Flatiron was a world within a world that prospered with good jobs, unions that protected workers and wages that allowed a father to raise his family and still have enough left over to visit the corner taproom on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons, playing the horses and numbers when times were good. In Flatiron most people had nicknames. It was a way for people to differentiate the dozens of baptized Josephs, Marys, Johns and James. It also provided a unique identity for the person, giving a quick glimpse-or warning in some cases-into their personality. In this collection of stories, Gerard Shields gives us a glimpse into the colorful lives of some of the remarkable residents of Flatiron.
PHUTILE TO PHINALLY-I never chose to be a Philadelphia Phillies baseball fan. I was born into it. My father, Fred Shields, was like most Philadelphians, an avid Phillies fan for as long as he could remember. Starting in the 1930s, dad seemed to follow every Phillies game, pitch by pitch. And after he returned from World War II and married mom, he even taught her how to keep the score of games when he had to work nights. He would take the Route 22 bus, which rolled along Lehigh Avenue to 22nd Street and our city's monolith to baseball, Connie Mack Stadium, originally called Shibe Park. And when I was old enough, a little taller than the knees on dad's 6-feet-3 frame, he would take me with him. Most trips ended in futility, a Phillies loss. The Philadelphia Phillies have lost more games-over 10,000-than any other team in American sports history.
THE GOOD OF THE ORDER-America's last 80 Years through the eyes of a tiny veterans club.

Welcome to the Kensington Memorial AMVETS Post 146, club located in the small pocket of Flatiron in east Philadelphia that has existed for 80 years and where club members helped win World War II then watched America grow into the greatest nation on the planet from their barstools.


Feel the heartbreak of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who like the AMVETS men, stood as an Irish-American Democrat and World War II veteran who visited the neighborhood a month before his election victory.


Meet The Dollies, a 50-member group of feisty women who make up the club auxiliary and challenge the male dominated norms as women across the nation were doing.  And sit in the bunker with a Vietnam veteran who survives a hand grenade explosion thanks to a picture of a saint that caught the shrapnel that would’ve killed him.


“Meet Me at the AMVETS” became embedded in the lexicon of a neighborhood that once stood as America’s mightiest yet responded to the exodus of its factories and jobs with the kindness, generosity, determination and faithfulness that have kept the club doors open for close to a century.

THE FRONT ROW-My jagged journey recording history from Reagan to Trump. 

Sit in the passenger seat of Gerry Shields' gripping political odyssey, The Front Row, chronicling his 30 years as a newspaper reporter writing about national and international events dating back a century while fending off crippling mental illness, nagging alcohol abuse and financial ruin as the newspaper industry crumbles around him.
·    Hear Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain describe how he “slept like a baby” after losing to Barack Obama.
·    Lie on Cuban beaches during the Bay of Pigs invasion alongside revolutionaries waiting for American military support that never came.
·    Stare into the eyes of the Irish Republican Army's political leader.
·    Sit in the Oval Office discussing Social Security with the president.
·    Fly in a federal airplane watching a night Space Shuttle launch.
·    Take a racism IQ test that will change the way you view America's most cancerous issue. 
·    Help create a presidential candidate, ride through the heartbreaking Hurricane Katrina ruins,
    and end your career just yards from where Donald Trump takes the oath of office.
Shields riveting present-tense writing style puts you in the scene. Join the journey…


THE CAMERA EYE-Shea Burke, a new FBI agent, is assigned to investigate eight cold cases of missing teenage girls. The local police had considered each girl a runaway, but Shea becomes convinced that one person-one monster-is responsible. She finds a seemingly harmless local man, Stanley Stonebridge, very interesting. Stanley, with a variety of devious devices including a shopping bag with a hole in it for his camera lens, videotapes attractive women in public places and sells the footage to voyeur web sites. When another girl, Tammy Ardito, disappears, Shea believes that Stanley is linked to the girl's abduction. However, her supervisors don't trust her instincts. She is new, after all, and they want her to focus on other suspects that have more potential than Stanley. Shea, realizing that her actions may cost her a career she loves, doggedly enters the dark world of Stanley Stonebridge determined to find Tammy.
THE POWER-Adolph Hitler dictated his final political testament on April 29, 1945, the day before he would commit suicide. This document is now well known to current historians; however, it was not the only testament that he would dictate that day. Known to only a select few in Hitler's inner circle, this second document would serve as a sacred guide for a covert Neo-Nazi organization. This group would follow Hitler's wishes, staying underground for decades while preparing for the uprising prophesied by Hitler, fulfilling his ultimate plan.
Shannon Dinardo has been grieving. Her fiancée was killed a few weeks ago and she has not been able to deal with the real world for a while. So when she notices a stack of mail protruding from her elderly neighbor's mailbox and several rolled up newspapers on his doorstep, she feels terrible. What if he is hurt inside his house and she didn't notice. When the police arrive, Shannon is told that they must wait 24 hours to begin a search.  Shannon decides to search Mr. Henry's home for clues to his whereabouts, and while looking through his desk, she finds something startling: a Nazi flag. When Neil Henry, Mr. Henry's grandson arrives, Shannon shows him the flag and other Nazi material his grandfather kept. The set out to find an old man who may have discovered a Nazi secret. A secret so dangerous, it may have cost him his freedom and even his life. Their journey takes Shannon to places she never imagined, and they discover a secret in Nazi history so shocking it could change the civilized world.
Restoration. How do you restore a normal life to a family devastated by the loss of a loved one? When Kathryn, beloved wife of John and devoted mother of Emily and Riley, is killed in a tragic car accident, John must repair his family. Although he and the children seem to be functioning, John knows that their reality is fragile. Being new to the area and far from family and friends only adds to their isolation. Kathryn had been the glue that held the family together. John finds comfort in the old, slightly shabby Victorian house that Kathryn had insisted they buy before she died. It was her idea to restore it and build the family a beautiful home. So John, normally a workaholic chained to his computer, begins the restorations that Kathryn wanted. What he learns as he restores the old house is life changing for himself and his whole family.
THE LIES WE KEEP is a story of love, loss and redemption after a pivotal tragedy in American history. A grieving widow facing another loss–her son who is starting a new chapter in his life at college–has a chance encounter in Sedona, Arizona  with a ghost from her past that sets in motion a series of events that will forever change the lives of everyone she cares for.
Thomas Burch is set to retire. After years of dangerous missions with the CIA, he is not ready for life as a regular citizen in late 1992. But accepting a covert mission-a rogue operation-secret from the world and the newly elected President gives him a queasy feeling. This operation could be considered treason if they are discovered. The Soviet Union is split into multiple countries-countries with weapons of mass destruction. The fear is that these weapons will fall into the wrong hands. Tom's mission is to gather Intel and monitor any sign that a weapon had reached the black market. The mission is "unofficial". No CIA rules or restraints and the director will not acknowledge their mission. Tom and his elite group of agents go to Europe. They set up operations as a rumor surfaces that a major Soviet Weapon is for sale. Although their cover is still shaky, Tom orders his team to investigate the sale. When three of his agents are captured by remnants of the KGB searching for the same weapon, the mission is in jeopardy. Tom orders a rescue operation to retrieve his agents-a risky venture that could doom his mission even before it begins.
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