What’s hot in memoirs and biography: A March roundup

Each month, Candace of Beth Fish Reads invites you to meet fascinating people by reading buzz-worthy memoirs or biographies. This month’s selections introduce you to a New York City food family, women who helped win a war and a legendary woman of the Old West.

Russ & Daughters

Russ & Daughters
By Mark Russ Federman

It’s likely that when Joel Russ emigrated from Poland to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, he couldn’t have imagined the small dynasty that he was to found. In Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House That Herring Built, Mark Russ Federman, Joel’s grandson, tells the story of how the family’s push-cart business transformed into a world-famous “appetizing shop” now owned by fourth-generation cousins. Whether you crave herring and lox or have never even heard of a blintz, you’ll love getting to know the Russ family, such as the three pretty sisters who tended the original store; the staff, including the Mt Everest Sherpa turned lox slicer; and the quirky customers, who demand quality but are happy to schmooze for hours. More than just a personal memoir, Federman talks about the changing nature of the Lower East Side, shares vintage photographs, provides mini Yiddish lessons, and includes wonderful family recipes. After reading this delicious account, you’ll put Russ & Daughters on your list of must-visit New York sites.

The Girls of Atomic City

The Girls of Atomic City
By Denise Kiernan

Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was founded as one of the main research stations for one of the US government’s most secret projects. Many of us are familiar with the names of the physicists who developed the atomic bomb, but what about the ordinary women recruited to work as support for the city that sprang up almost overnight? In The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II, Denise Kiernan relies on firsthand accounts to tell the story of the women who were asked to move to the facility to be secretaries, chemists, lab assistants, cooks and janitors. These unsung patriots answered their country’s call to serve, even though they were forced to live under the watchful eyes of armed guards and were never fully informed about the nature of the Oak Ridge research. Kiernan reveals the women’s experiences in the secret city and their mixed feelings after the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and they realized what they had helped create.

Lady at the O.K. Corral

Lady at the O.K. Corral
By Ann Kirschnet

On an October day in 1881, a shootout involving eight men and three groups of brothers forever colored our image of the Wild West. But what happened to Sheriff Wyatt Earp after he reholstered his guns at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona? Ann Kirshner’s Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp answers that question by exploring the unlikely common-law marriage of Wyatt and the daughter of Prussian Jewish immigrants. Delving into letters, historical archives and eye-witness accounts, Kirshner introduces us to the fascinating couple behind the legend, including Josephine’s efforts to hide her own past while attempting to shape the heroic image of Wyatt. From Arizona to Alaska to Hollywood, the Earps spent their lives chasing opportunities and seeking adventure. Kirschnet’s well-researched biography tells the tale of how one of the Old West’s most famous couples coped with a rapidly changing world that took them from the last vestiges of the frontier to the heart of one of America’s most modern cities.

Talk to me!

Do you eat lox or herring? Would you want to work on a secret government project? Do you wish you could have lived in the Old West?

More memoirs and biography

What’s hot in memoirs and biography: A roundup (February)
What’s hot in memoirs: January round-up
What’s hot in memoirs and biographies (December)


Comments are closed.