The New York Times/Notable Books in Short Review/Throttled!

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Throttled!  (1919) 
New York Times book review of Throttled!, printed July 20, 1919.
Notable Books in Brief Review - July 20, 1919 - Page 1.png

THROTTLED! The Detection of the German and Anarchist Bomb Plotters. By Inspector Thomas J. Tunney and Paul Merrick Hollister. Introduction by Authur Woods. Illustrated. Boston: Small, Maynard & Co.

IN the writing of this dramatic and important section of our part in the war, Inspector Tunney, head of the Bomb Squad of the New York Police Department, recounted the facts and Mr. Hollister, who is one of the co-authors of "The German Secret Service in America," has put them into readable English, told in the first person as narrated to him by the man who was at the head of the squad that ceaselessly worked for the protection of American citizens and industries and the ferreting out of German schemes of destruction. The full story is told of nearly a dozen of these conspiracies to hinder our war effort, or, before we entered the war, to injure nations friendly to us by machinations upon our soil. The Bomb Squad was organised early in August, 1914, by Commissioner of Police Arthur Woods, and this volume will make more widely known, what is already familiar to New Yorkers, how efficient it has been and how important was the work it did during the war.

Among the most interesting of the stories is the chapter dealing with the conspiracy engineered in this country by Hindus and Germans to bring about an uprising in India against British rule. If their plans had carried through to success they would have made serious trouble in nearly all of Great Britain's colonial possessions. The Hindu-German organization in the United States was large, well financed and very active, until Inspector Tunney, arresting its head and unearthing all its ramifications, put an end to its sinister possibilities. Speaking of the Hindu, Chakravarty, who was the master hand in the affair, and of his plans, Inspector Tunney says:

It may be wondered how he was able to perfect an organization. The answer to that we found in Gupta's safety deposit box--a list of two hundred or more members of an Indian society in the United States, a large proportion of whom were students in American colleges, sent here for education on scholarships, in the hope that they would return to their native country and uplift it. Some of them were influential agents, and they were scattered conveniently about the country. Add to this force the co-operation of almost innumerable German agents and pay it with a share of the $32,000,000 which Chakravarty said had been set aside in Berlin for anarchistic, race-riot and Hindu propaganda in the Western world, and you have a real factor for trouble.

Interesting for the account they give of shrewd and resourceful detective work and deeply significant to American readers as indications of what would have happened but for the ceaseless vigilance of those who were on the trail of German plotters, are the chapters that deal with the running down of Paul Koenig, the chief detective of the Hamburg-American Line, and his efforts to throw suspicion off the scent; with Robert Fay's schemes for putting bombs in the cargoes of ships timed to explode far out at sea, and with Rintelen and his many activities. In every one of these cases and in others that are described, of perhaps less consequence, the trail invariable led back to Washington and the arch plotter, Ambassador von Bernstorff, and his two aids, von Papen and Boy-Ed. It is a vile mess that Inspector Tunney spreads before us, and it arouses anew the wonder that all the world outside of Central Europe has been feeling for so long at the quality of the German mind which seems to render it insensible to moral distinctions.

At this present moment, when threads of violence by Bolsheviki, I. W. W. agents, and anarchists are frequent, the story of the long months during which the men of the Bomb Squad patiently learned the secrets of the anarchist organization that attempted to blow up St. Patrick's Cathedral four or five years ago, is cheerful reading because of the assurance it gives that just the same kind of patient, brave, watchful men are still silently standing guard over society.

Former Police Commissioner Authur Woods contributes an introduction in which after commending the good work done by Inspector Tunney and his men, he says:

The lessons to America are clear as day. We must not again be caught napping with no adequate national intelligence organisation. The several Federal bureaus should be welded into one, and that one should be eternally and comprehensively vigilant. We must be wary of strange doctrine, steady in judgment, instinctively repelling those who seek to poison public opinion. And our laws should be amended so that, while they give free scope to Americans for untrammeled expression of differences of opinion and theory and belief, they forbid and prevent the enemy plotter and propagandist. * * * I hope this book will help to teach another lesson also: The need in our police forces of brains and high morale; the need of cultivating the professional spirit in them, that shall dignify the work, shall banish political influence and all other influences that go to break the heart of the policeman who tries to do his plain duty; the need of having the public take an intelligent interest in police methods and results, doing away with the smoke-screens of mystery and concealment which are traditionally employed to cover dishonesty and incompetency.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).