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Home Fires: An Intimate Portrait of One Middle-class Family in Postwar America Paperback – 1 Jun 1993

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Paperback, 1 Jun 1993
£17.85 £0.76
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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""Home Fires" became my favorite book, one of those seminal pieces of literature that shaped my identity and made me want to be a writer . . . what makes [it] stand out is the masterful way that Mr. Katz weaves together the family s history with the history of the time . . . [plus], it s a hell of a story." "New York Observer"" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Donald Katz is founder and CEO of Audible, Inc., the leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment on the Internet. Prior to founding Audible, Katz was a journalist and author for twenty years; his work won a National Magazine Award, an Overseas Press Club Award, the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, among other prizes. Katz graduated from New York University in 1974, where he studied with novelist Ralph Ellison. Mr. Katz is married, the father of three children, and an avid ice hockey player. Jonathan Alter is an author, journalist,and television commentator. Since 1983, he has been a correspondent and columnist for Newsweek. He is also an analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, where he appears three or four times a week. Alter is the author of The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, a national bestseller, and The Promise: President Obama, Year One, which went to number four on the New York Times bestseller list and was named one of the one hundred "Notable Books of the Year" by the Times. He is also the author of Between the Lines: A View Inside American Politics, Media and Culture, a collection of his Newsweek columns. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey with his wife, Emily Lazar, a producer for The Colbert Report, and their three children, Charlotte, Tommy and Molly. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars 13 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVED this book 26 July 2005
By Anne Salazar - Published on
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. I read it when it first came out, and I remember writing a "fan" letter to the author when I was only about 2/3 of the way through. It was that good! It was such a thorough picture of this family (and hence thousands upon thousands of families) following World War II, through the 50's, the revolutionary 60's and straight through to the 1990s. The family members are all so different, just as the members of my family are all so different. The book is brilliantly hilarious and scathingly ridiculous and funny and tragic, all at once. In short, here is a typical American family of those years; here are the parents who tried so hard and made so many mistakes, and managed to squeeze in a life of their own along the way; and the 4 children who tried so hard but didn't know what they were supposed to be doing -- their parents' way? A new way? A radical way? What they didn't realize was that they had choices. They also didn't realize that when they made those choices they were not irrevocable. I have just read of the death of one of the children and that has spurred me to check out the book here at, and to get my copy down and read it again. It is history, people. It is OUR history. Please read it. You will see yourself and your friends and neighbors and you will laugh and cry and be happy to have lived such a varied existence.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intimate and profound portrait of an American family. 9 July 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Katz spent four years with the Gordon family to write an exhaustive portrait that is at once hilarious and profoundly sad. Every facet of the lives of the six principles is explored in withering detail, and is set against a back drop of the cultural and political events of the day, from Truman to Bush. At each step of the way, Katz also quotes from pop and academic commentaries on the American family, which either illuminates the inner dynamics of the Gordon family or serves to illustrate how absurd such observations, made in the heat of the moment, can be.
I found myself totally absorbed with the Gordon family at each step of their lives. I could not put this book down.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A social history from the 40's to the 90's. 2 Jan. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book follows the lives of Gordon family members from 1945 to the 90's. The most interesting aspect of this social history is the tracing of social trends from drug use and student sit-ins(60's)through civil rights, anti-Vietnam War marches , self- discovery to yoga and natural foods - and the change is dizzying! The one problem is that so much is covered that the final effect is a listing rather than a development of ideas. However, it is definitely worth reading and provides a personal "take" on a lot of issues not usually addressed from a family viewpoint.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Family Traverses the 1960's AND Remembers It 22 April 2009
By Fairbanks Reader - Published on
Format: Paperback
I loved this book, the story of one family from the 1940's through the 1970's. Even if the characters were trying and the fads unending, the nostalgia and sense of 'been there, done that' was ever present.

A post World War II family in New York raises four children in suburban Long Island. Middle class and Jewish, the three sisters and one brother go through the 1960's trying drugs, living in ashrams, experimenting with sexuality, religion, parenting, etc.

While some of the characters were difficult to like, this semi-ethnography takes us through the times by following one family's connections and chronology. By many standards, the Gordon family would be labeled dysfunctional and narcissistic. However, the intrinsic love and connection between family members that is often unconditional is both poignant and intense. This is a great read!

For those of you interested in what happens to the family members after this book ends, I recommend reading The Knitting Sutra: Craft as a Spiritual Practice by Susan Gordon Lydon, one of the family members in Home Fires.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Apply the framework of this book to your life,especially if you fit in Sam and Eve's age group 7 Jan. 2011
By Elizabeth, the Traveler (Atlanta, Georgia) - Published on
Format: Paperback
It is amazing that the Gordon family permitted the author to share the intimate details of the lives of the four generations of this family. Anyone, especially those who have lived in New York or the various places the families have lived will compare their own experiences as they read along. Interfacing national events of the the time, popular books (I even remember reading Crack in the Picture Window in 1957) and music, plays and musicals of the times)with events of the families lives demonstrates how in fact we Americans have been so affected by these national and new technological trends as we have moved along. Today Facebook and social networks would be included as the difficult political times. My immediate reaction was to formulate in my own mind families of my few close friends as well as of course my own. In a way I guess in total extended families in the US are like this. The happy ending in Florida is really nice.
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