Thursday, November 3, 2016

Mr. Dolge's Money: a new historical novel



Mr.Dolge’s Money is a new novel loosely inspired by the final years of Alfred Dolge, the visionary founder of Dolgeville, New York. The historical Alfred Dolge was much influenced by his father, Christian, who was imprisoned for his part in the anti-monarchist uprisings of 1848. As a youth Alfred’s thinking was also guided by his father’s friend, Wilhelm Leibknecht, founder of the German Socialist Party. By the time he arrived in the United States in 1866, Alfred had already imbibed the stirring but contradictory ideas of Karl Marx and Adam Smith.

He came to what was then known as Brocketts Bridge in 1874, committed to building a utopian society that combined his highest ideals with a profitable business. Over the next twenty-four years, he build an industrial village founded primarily on the manufacture of pains and piano components but also including an autoharp factory and extensive lumber holdings. He also back Daniel Green in creating the shoe and slipper company that was a major employer in the area until 1999. Although Dolge provided a very good life for himself and his family, he never lost sight of his goal of improving the lives of his workers, many of whom he imported from Germany. The old age pensions he offered to his workers led him to credited as a forerunner of Social Security on that agency’s website. He also provided sick benefits, life insurance and profit-sharing far exceeded those available to American workers today, However, in 1898 his entire financial complex collapsed and he declared bankruptcy. For more on this intriguing history, see my short biography of Alfred Dolge or visit the Dolgeville-Manheim Historical society.

The novel takes up where this history ends and explores the implications of Dolge’ s ideas on a stage far larger than the small village at the edge of the Adirondack forests. One of the main characters is a fictional grandson who grows up in Venezuela where Dolge’s son Rudolf has gone after giving to his father’s enemies a power of attorney which they used to destroy everything he had built. Another leading character is Helen Schloss whom some readers may know from The Red Nurse or her own series of articles on the 1912 Little Falls strike, published recently as Tales from the Rock City.

Dolge’s grandson, known both as Jose and Joseph, is dispatched by the elderly Mr. Dolge to Europe as soon as the first world war ends in order to access funds secretly hidden during the debacle of 1898. In the resulting struggle for this money, Joseph becomes caught up in the beginnings of the Red Terror in Russia and fierce warfare between communist and fascist factions from Berlin to Barcelona. With the old monarchies in collapse, Joseph finds that the ideas of Karl Marx and Adam Smith which inspired his grandfather’s benevolent policies have become a pretext for unimaginable violence. Beset by treachery on every side, he sees Rosa Luxembourg murdered and is held prisoner by a crazed band of anti-Semites who will become the leaders of the Nazi party. His survival depends on women whose motivations he cannot understand, the Comintern agent and former I.W.W. agitator Helen Schloss and the Nazi mystic Maria Orsic.




Mr. Dolge’s Money is available exclusively on Kindle for $2.99.



Among the historical figures and events in the novel:

Teffi, the Russian humorist and writer
who helped Joseph flee from the Bolsheviks

Karl Leibknecht, murdered head of the German
Communist Party whom Joseph met at the height
of the Spartacist uprising

The Spartacist uprising in Berlin, 1919
Erich von Ludendorff, an early supporter of the Nazis
Maria Orsic, a fortune-teller and mystic
popular with the early Nazis
Prince Rupprecht and Princess Antonia of Bavaria,
whom both Joseph and Helen met at their castle
Neuschwanstein Castle where Joseph is imprisoned

 IWW activist Helen Schloss
who traveled to Russia with Joseph in 1919,
later a disillusioned Comintern agent
Anarchist fighter in Barcelona,
where Joseph Dolge arrived in 1937

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