This is the story of Bernie, a Brat born and raised in the Bronx
His story unfolds in the Bronx of the 1940s and 50s— a colorful mosaic of Italian, Irish and Jewish families. Local parks (especially the Bronx Zoo and Botanical Garden) were peaceful oases from crowded Bronx apartment houses. Bernie was highly intelligent and sought adult-level knowledge in local libraries. He had fierce protective love for his two younger sisters and a brother. His loving, but weak father surrendered to a dominant mother who kept control with screaming paranoia. Bernie related to World War 2 with a precocious understanding of current events and military strategy taught to him by his grandfather. He hid his learning from others and his teachers in order to ‘fit in’.
Bernie’s escapades were in the tradition of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. He showed both bravery and bravado by saving his Dad’s life at age ten. That same year, he joined a secret American branch of the Haganah to send guns, disguised as toys, to Israel. They were packed with greeting cards to Israeli children. Finally, a shocking family tragedy confronted Bernie as he reached adulthood and entered the working world, never to live as a Bronx Brat again.