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My Fathers' Houses: Memoir of a Family Hardcover – May 3, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1ST edition (May 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060739932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060739935
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,253,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This memoir tells "a story of a town and a time and a boy who grew up there." The town is the New York suburb of Bayonne, N.J.; the time is the 1940s and '50s; and the boy is Roberts, syndicated columnist and coauthor (with his wife, Cokie Roberts) of From This Day Forward. Growing up, Roberts's Old World ties were strong. His Jewish family had their roots in Eastern Europe, and he proudly relates the story of how they came to America (his maternal grandfather, Abraham Rogowsky, is particularly fascinating: born in Bialystok, he stole money to become a Zionist pioneer in Palestine in 1907). Roberts also recounts how his parents met in the mid-'30s in New Jersey-"two shy and sensitive souls, sophisticated about books and innocent about life"-but the book doesn't really hit its stride until the author begins describing his own experiences. He paints a reflective portrait of his childhood and young adulthood, when he played and fought with his twin brother, Marc, and when he attended Harvard University, where he met Cokie Boggs, his future wife. "All families have their own folklore, stories they tell and axioms they use," Roberts writes. Thankfully, the stories told here have widespread appeal. As the author's family name changes from Rogowsky to Rogow to Roberts, a universal story of the American experience of immigrant conversion emerges from all the carefully limned details. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Roberts' first newspaper job was at the Times--the Bayonne Times--and the well-known journalist recalls his childhood and adolescence in that often-disparaged New Jersey city. Thematically, his memoir traces acculturation, beginning with that of his immigrant grandparents, and extending to his own education about the world beyond Bayonne. The majority of this memoir focuses on two people: Roberts' father, Will, and Will's father, Abe, an opinionated eccentric whose businesses hovered between the legal and the illegal. The author expresses loyal and warm feelings about his father, without sentimentalizing his struggles to make it. A cache of his parents' premarital letters allows Roberts to reconstruct their youthful ambitions and anxieties, and their traditional relationship sets the stage for the 1950s adventures of Roberts and his twin, who was afflicted with polio. Set against Bayonne's population, made up of Eastern European Catholics and Jews, Roberts' affecting recollections of sports, girls, and family seldom omit an ethnic component, and fairly burst with his feelings about his family's lore. A singular saga of assimilation. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. Murat on June 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I am not Jewish, I did not grow up in New Jersey, and I was born the year the author graduated from Harvard. How can I explain the reasons I loved this book? Perhaps the reviewer below summed it up best: it IS refreshing to read a memoir that is not fueled by anger, contempt, or confession. This is a very pleasant visit to a time and place that, while not my own, echo a love of family connections and triumphs. I hope there will be a sequel and I applaud Mr. Roberts for taking the time to reflect upon and share his childhood. We need more books that aren't someone else's therapy.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Tayari Jones on June 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Steve Roberts has written a charming memoir that celebrates his family and an era gone by. Roberts grew up in Jersey City, an area usually reserved for punch-lines of stupid jokes, but Roberts captures all that is to be valued in his hometown. It is refreshing to read a memoir that is not so much motivated by anger and discontent. MY FATHER'S HOUSES is a memoir written to give credit where it is due.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By E. Scott on July 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First: I'm a big fan of Team Roberts. But I was not expecting the depth of emotion and connection this book evoked in me. I'm a bit younger than Steve, grew up on the West Coast in a WonderBread world, but his descriptions of his background and growing up, full of all the anguish of the less-than-perfect teenager, were astonishingly affirming. I have passed the volume on to another, and expect it will continue to make the rounds. I'm hoping for volume two that picks up at the time they were married and carries on, since there are surely many more stories!
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