cover image American Shield: The Immigrant Sergeant Who Defended Democracy

American Shield: The Immigrant Sergeant Who Defended Democracy

Aquilino Gonell and Susan Shapiro. Counterpoint, $28 (240p) ISBN 978-1-64009-628-8

In this stirring debut, former United States Capitol Police officer Gonell details his hardscrabble upbringing and his harrowing experiences during the January 6 insurrection. Gonell grew up in poverty in the Dominican Republic with his mother and two siblings. After Gonell’s mother moved the family to Brooklyn, N.Y., when he was a teenager, he became the first member of his family to graduate from high school, and enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve to help fund his college ambitions. 9/11 interrupted his plans, and in 2002, Gonell was deployed to Iraq, where he incurred PTSD. After returning to the U.S. and working a string of unsatisfying security jobs, Gonell joined the Capitol Police in 2006. Eventually, he was put in charge of a squad in the Civil Disturbance Unit. It was in that capacity that he squared off against would-be insurrectionists on January 6, suffering multiple injuries and a PTSD flare-up during the struggle. Gonell describes the calamity in goosebump-inducing detail and is refreshingly candid in his disparagement of the attackers who attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election. This dispatch from the front lines of America’s political polarization grips. Agents: Meg Thompson and Samantha Wekstein, Thompson Literary. (Nov.)