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Home Fires Hardcover – November 21, 1994


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Hardcover, November 21, 1994
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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing (November 21, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517136279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517136270
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,826,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1945 Samuel Gordon, an electrician, returned home to the Bronx in New York City after the close of World War II and began his search for the American dream by moving with his wife Eve and daughter Susan to suburban Long Island. In this moving, perceptive social history, Katz ( The Big Store: Inside the Crisis and Revolution at Sears ) traces the lives of the Gordon family, which swelled to include two more daughters and a son, to the year 1990, revisiting the cultural changes of four decades. The Gordon children, to their parents' occasional distress and bewilderment, flirted with political activism and addictive drugs, knew both marriage and divorce and found New Age religion. Their son Ricky "came out"--happily gay. Katz's objective yet compassionate approach to their story makes riveting reading and fosters the conclusion that upheaval and trauma are as integral to families as love. 50,000 first printing; $65,000 ad/promo; first serial to Esquire; author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Using the true story of a typical American family to encapsulate major social, cultural, and political developments in the United States from the end of World War II until 1991 appeals as an idea but suffers here in execution. Esquire columnist Katz ( The Big Store , LJ 10/15/87) deals only patchily with the larger forces at work in America's evolution over a half-century. It could be argued that the experiences of a Jewish family from New York City and suburban Long Island are hardly typical of all the nation's families, but in any case the relentless pursuit of the Gordons' story--year after year, for 600 pages of flat, semifictionalized prose--becomes tedious long before the book's close. This hybrid brings out the weaknesses rather than the strengths of its elements. Not recommended. First serial to Esquire ; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/92.
- Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Anne Salazar on July 25, 2005
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 Amazon.com, 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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 1998
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 21, 2009
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a history buff, this book was wonderful in giving a social perspective on the post-war decades of the 20th century. The family setting provides a great backdrop for the American story in this era. Highly recommended.
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