• Fortnight on Maxwell Street

  • By: David Kerns
  • Narrated by: Doug MacKechnie
  • Length: 7 hrs and 25 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Recipient of the Eric Hoffer Award for the Best General Fiction Book of 2018, and among the top five historical novels of 2018 selected by Kirkus Indie, Fortnight on Maxwell Street is a reluctant hero's journey of fear and courage set in Chicago in the spring of 1968.

Twenty-four-year-old medical student Nick Weissman spends two weeks delivering babies in the kitchens and bedrooms of the inner city's slum tenements. Over his head medically and unprotected in one of America's most dangerous neighborhoods, his character and resourcefulness are tested in the extreme when a national tragedy intervenes.

The young White protagonist steps into his racial fear, testing his fledgling professionalism and his honor to care for a Black family in grave danger. The embodiment of racial hatred, James Earl Ray moves in parallel with Nick, stalking Martin Luther King, Jr., killing him, and igniting the urban chaos that is the setting for the climax of the story.

Praise for the book:

"David Kerns' Fortnight on Maxwell Street is a suspenseful medical odyssey that dances along a high wire of racial tension during a tragic and historic American moment." (James McManus, author of New York Times best seller Positively Fifth Street)

“A propulsive, harrowing, and moving read, from beginning to end. David Kerns delivers a nuanced portrayal of racism as a spectrum disease. We see how heroes and villains are made, how character is forged in the crucible of a historical moment. Fortnight on Maxwell Street rings absolutely, heart-stoppingly true. A book for our time.” (Jessica Grant, author of Come, Thou Tortoise)

“With craft and compassion, David Kerns has written a gripping story of one young medical student’s journey into America’s racial divide in 1968 Chicago.” (Hillary Homzie, author of Queen of Likes and The Hot List)

©2018 David Kerns (P)2020 David Kerns

What listeners say about Fortnight on Maxwell Street

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So captivating I binged on it!

This, my first exposure to the work of David Kerns, was richly satisfying. The multiple storylines were woven together into a masterfully crafted and compelling story that, I must admit, was so captivating I binged on listening to this audiobook. Narrator Doug MacKechnie does a great job of providing a distinct voice for the numerous characters, making it easy to follow what proves to be a wild ride at times. Dr. Kerns does an outstanding job of capturing the complexities of the times in his characters and the stories, from politics to race and culture, from national to local street drama. Set in Chicago’s dangerous south side in 1968, the journey and challenges of the protagonist are exacerbated when the parallel story of James Earl Ray and his journey to assassinate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. collide and riots ensue – yet young teen mothers with babies about to be born cannot wait for calmer times. A great job by Dr. Kerns.

1 person found this helpful

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Incredible, beautiful, historical

This is so much more than I expected it to be. I loved it from the moment it started until the end. A medical student's account of his training and inner struggles working in urban Chicago during one of the most racially turbulent times in our country's history.
Wonderful story. Perfect narration. Five stars.
I requested this book to review and voluntarily provided a review.

1 person found this helpful

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4/5 if most chapters with James Earl Ray removed

This is the first book I have read/listened to by this author.
I feel the chapters with details about James Earl Rays actions prior to the murderer of Martin Luther King Jr. unnecessary. I found it took me out of the story and pulled me away from what was a somewhat informative and very heartfelt story. I actually listen to only the first chapter and a bit, and after that skipped every chapter involving that character. It did not affect the story negatively at all and the impact of Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder was still present. I’d rather more midwife stories with more insight into the issues and circumstances the doctors/doctors-in-training and people of the time we’re up against. I realize that may dilute his experience a bit with the young girl (having twins) who is a pivotal character in this story, but I think it could have been pulled off. I really liked the addition of the other character who aided Nick and their ability to set aside race issues when help was needed the most. Having the climactic events occurring same time as the chaos surrounding the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was well done and realistic. ——-

This is the first book I have listened to by this narrator ( Doug MacKechnie ) and I would listen to another. Most characters were distinguishable and he used mild accents to suit the characters. His style was a bit more performing then reading, yet still very enjoyable. ——-

There are no explicit sex scenes, or excessive violence or gory details, there is swearing. ——-

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and voluntarily left this unbiased review.
Please feel free to comment on whether you found my review helpful.

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Riveting, Rewarding, and Revealing

Fortnight on Maxwell Street tells the compelling, comedic, and surprisingly relatable story of Nick Weissman, a 24-year-old medical student just trying to survive and earn his credentials by delivering babies at a run-down hospital in a seedy neighborhood in Chicago. Set in the Spring of 1968, Weissman’s journey is interwoven with the story of James Earl Way, on his own twisted mission to murder Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The narrative is riveting and David Kerns’ prose is nothing short of immersive. There were moments when I felt like I was actually there at a park in Chicago watching a group of Jazz street musicians performing, or buying a rifle at a gun shop in Memphis. The story also provides intelligent and insightful commentary on different forms of racism and dealing with our own submerged prejudices.

While this novel was written in 2018, it was slightly eerie listening to it in 2020 and seeing the parallels between the political climate of 1968 and today. The themes explored in this story are just as relevant in now as they would have been then.

Doug MacKechnie’s performance in the audiobook version was also fantastic, crisp and clear and with dynamic voices for different characters’ thoughts and dialogue. I will definitely be recommending this book to friends and family, and to anyone else looking for a good excuse to get lost in a story.

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Loved it.

This is a fascinating peek into a time and place full of tension, excitement, and humanity. Well written and well narrated. Highly recommend.

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Suspenseful and Poignant Story

Fortnight on Maxwell Street by David Kerns is an intriguing book as it gives an inside view of what happened during the 1968 racial tensions in Chicago. As a medical student, just weeks away from becoming a full-fledged doctor, Nick Weissman must spend the next few weeks delivering babies in homes located in unsafe, dangerous neighborhoods found in the inner city of Chicago.

Almost mirrored each move that Nick makes, we see James Earl Ray move almost in alignment. Faced with growing racial tensions and chaos created by Ray, Nick must face his fear and decide what type of man/doctor he intends to be. When no one else is willing to travel the streets during this chaotic time, Nick puts his fear aside and steps up to help a young Black girl and her babies who are facing death during an unsafe and unsupervised home delivery.

Kerns does a magnificent job of portraying hatred, danger, and tension – the chaos that reigned is vivid in his rich details and character/plot development. Kerns captures the unrest and fear, the dreadful conditions of inner-city life, inequality, and racial divide of the time as only a skilled storyteller can. While suspenseful, the book is a reminder that we as a people have not moved much in our thinking or actions since then thus making this a highly emotional and poignant story.
The narrator, Doug MacKechnie, gives an excellent performance moving the story along as the book progresses. His voices are well done and capture the fear and confusion of the characters well. MacKechnie’s strong voices gave credibility to each character.

There were no issues with the production or quality of this audiobook. It was clear and well done.

I highly recommend this book; a bit slow in the beginning it quickly picks up keeping the listener intrigued.

Disclaimer: This Audiobook was provided free of charge by the author, narrator, and/or publisher in exchange for a non-bias, honest review.

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This was an awesome novel!

I think this made it even better since I am a nurse, but I think I would have enjoyed almost as much if I wasn't a medical professional. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story. I was given this book for free, to write an honest review. I would have gladly bought it or used a credit though. It's that good!!

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A gripping yet poignant story

This is a gripping story of racial tension and human relations with strongly developed and very realistic characters. The narration by Doug MacKechnie is outstanding and truly enhances the story. I am very impressed with this audiobook and can strongly recommend it.

Note: I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.