It is nearly always invisible dangers
that are most terrifying.
With these words by Julius Caesar do we get to know Vercingetorix, a Celtic tribal leader that led a revolt in Gaul against Rome in 52BC.
After defeat at Avaricum, Vercingetorix and the thousands of Celtic troops that pledged to him retreated with heavy hearts and deep concern to Gergovia, his tribe’s biggest fortified town for a last stand.
On the precipice of extinction, the Gallic tribes trembled. Many knew that if they lost, their ancient culture would capitulate forever. Others though, saw opportunity in begging Caesar’s mercy and assimilating within the conquerer’s culture.
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At Gergovia Vercingetorix won triumphantly. The Celts must have been elated. Winter had come, and everyone thought Caesar would head south, back to Italy.
Although Caesar claimed that he hadn’t lost (his account is all we have of the Gallic Wars) it was apparent he’d been routed. Eventually though, in open battle, Vercingetorix was overcome by treachery within his own leadership, lack of resources and outdated war strategies. Among the most important things against the Celts in Europe, however, was time and change.
Julius Caesar’s siege tactics, superior battle techniques, along with the full might of Rome behind him proved too much, and Gaul fell under the mighty weight in the siege of Alesia.
In the Auld Irishtown trilogy, there are parodies to the rise of Rome and the fall of the Celtic world.
In a place called Irishtown in Brooklyn, in the very same neighborhood where their ancestors landed after the Great Hunger seventy years earlier, a gang keeps the Anglo-American law and culture outside its neighborhood borders.
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In 1900 Christie Maroney, the newest gang leader plans to change Irishtown and allow outsider to run prostitution, gambling, labor tribute in the old neighborhood until Dinny Meehan murders him in 1912.
Meehan pulls every gang under his umbrella, and calls it The White Hand, in anticipation of an Italian invasion (just like Caesar) from the south. But it is not only Italians like Frankie Yale that want to take Dinny Meehan down and banish their culture, just as it wasn’t only Julius Caesar that took down Vercingetorix.
Call The White Hand a gang if you like, but they can also be seen as soldiers. Soldiers of the Dawn, who show up early in the morning to load and unload all of the ships that come into the busiest port in the world so that they can feed their people. And stick to their ancient ways, instead of the culture of the Anglo-ascendency in New York.
Dinny Meehan warns his followers in Irishtown not to fear the invisible dangers of their enemy, but to take a last stand, too.
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