• PW SELECT Fiction Review -The Bonus: a novel of the Bonus March & the Depression Author: Georgia Lowe, Lucky Dime Press (www.luckydimepress.com), $18.95 trade paperback (398p) ISBN 978-0-615-37145-0
• Available at Amazon, Ingram, Brodart , Follett & www.luckydimepress.com physical & Ebook formats
• Review: Lowe’s debut is a well-done historical epic that captures an undeservedly obscure episode from the Great Depression. In 1932, veterans from across the country converged on Washington, D.C., to demand payment of bonuses earned during WWI. Despite rampant unemployment and hunger, President Herbert Hoover vowed to veto any legislation to move up the payment date–the bonuses aren’t due for more than a decade–leaving the suffering veterans little recourse but to rally public support for their cause by marching on the Capitol. The vicissitudes of their efforts are nicely illumined through a diverse cast of characters, including L.A. reporter Will Hardy–whose coverage of actor Royal Robertson, who issued one of the calls to march leads him to follow the story across the country–and Col. Pelham Glassford, who uses his position as D.C. police superintendent to both maintain public order and treat the marchers humanely. The author makes good use of her material, some of which is derived from stories from her parents, themselves Bonus Marchers. Georgia lives in Bishop California, and she devoted over 10 years of research to The Bonus.
•KIRKUS REVIEWS THE BONUS
• First-time author Lowe draws on the experiences of her parents and a well-honed sense of craft for her novel set in the midst of the Great Depression.
• In the late spring of 1932, with unemployment hovering near 25 percent and poverty widespread, veterans all over the U.S. mobilize a march on Washington to demand early payment of their World War I bonuses, which are not scheduled to be redeemed until 1945. Veteran-turned-reporter Will Hardy, skeptical of Royal Robertson, leader of Los Angeles’ “Bonus Army,” investigates the charismatic former actor, then covers Robertson’s “Heroes March” of vets on their trek from Hollywood to D.C.; Will’s lover Bonnie Bailey, a statuesque movie extra, soon follows. Meanwhile in the nation’s capital, retired Army general Pelham Glassford, chief of police, attempts to accommodate throngs of bonus marchers while trying to wrest concessions from uncooperative politicians and Army officials. But as more veterans crowd into the city, Congress follows President Hoover’s lead in refusing early payment, a testy General MacArthur readies his troops and the situation quickly approaches a boiling point. Lowe’s briskly paced prose carries all the plot threads forward in a pleasing, almost pulpy style, relishing in period motifs and delivering plenty of risqué encounters… the novel’s overt political stance sometimes overstates the justness of the Bonus Army’s cause … Lowe has clearly done her homework (she especially knows her way around 1930s L.A.), and this novel serves as an strong first effort.
NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS
…Sadly, there have been too few novels set in this time of social upheaval, economic tragedy, and hopelessness. Not that there haven’t been many competent historical texts, several of which the author mentions in her own lists of references, nonetheless it takes a fiction writer to make history personal. John Steinbeck did it with his Grapes of Wrath and now, first-time novelist, Georgia Lowe achieves the same emotional impact with The Bonus… The Bonus is one of the finest historical novels I’ve ever read, and it left me emotionally drained. It is clearly a cautionary tale of what happens to a people when its elected officials allow themselves to become disassociated with their constituents-Ron Fortier