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
BOOKS BY GERARD SHIELDS
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…