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Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite
The Winds of Midnight: The Tragic Story of the Pattenburg Massacre by G. Gordon Long is a fictional story incorporating historical accounts of a violent riot fueled by racial tension which occurred in 1872 in the small village of Pattenburg, New Jersey. It resulted in the deaths of one Irishman and three African Americans who were living near the town in separate camps while employed to dig a railroad tunnel through a mountain. Efforts to convict the alleged murderers through jury trials were hindered by the reluctance of the townspeople to either help the prosecution or provide evidence. Despite the shocking notoriety of the event due to the brutal way in which the fleeing black men were hunted down and slaughtered, no one was held accountable.
I always believed that we should study our full history - "the good, the bad, and the ugly” of it - if we are to be true to ourselves as an American nation and learn from our past to build a better future. The Pattenburg Massacre is part of “the ugly,” which makes it even more important that we do not forget it. This isn’t the only instance when there has been a gross miscarriage of justice, but it has much to teach us about the meaning of injustice and how easily justice can be sabotaged by the absence of courage. In The Winds of Midnight, G. Gordon Long provides a well-written, well-researched, and emotionally evocative narrative that brings this story home to the reader in vivid detail. It's well-paced and will keep the reader's interest as it flows from one character or plot turn to another. You may find the story extremely sad and frustrating. Loss of life by such violence without holding the perpetrators accountable should be sad for all of us, but it's a story we need to read so that the loss of these men's lives isn't in vain. Highly recommended.