Home Fires

An Intimate Portrait of One Middle-Class Family in Postwar America

By Donald Katz

Revised Edition with a new introduction by Jonathan Alter

Home Fires is the powerful saga of the Gordon family - real people, names unchanged. Spanning nearly five decades, from the end of World War II to the early 1990s, their story has the scope, depth, wealth of incident, and emotional intensity of a great novel, and an abundance of humor, scandal, warmth, and trauma - the recognizable components of family life. This is also a masterful chronicle of the turbulent postwar era, illuminating the interplay between private life and profound cultural changes.

Donald Katz begins his account in 1945, when Sam Gordon comes home from the war to his young wife, Eve, and their two-year-old, Susan, eager to move his family into the growing middle class. After a few years in the Bronx, Sam and Eve move to a new Long Island subdivision and have two more children. As the '50s yield to the '60s, the younger Gordons fly out into the culture like shrapnel from an artillery shell, each tracing a unique trajectory: Susan, early into rock 'n' roll and civil rights, Vassar girl, feminist, author of "The Politics of Orgasm", and recovering drug addict; Lorraine, teenage beatnik and leftie, one-time member of a women's rock band, longtime follower of an Indian religious teacher; Sheila, the "good" daughter who married then remarried, with a big suburban house, two kids, and a therapist; and Ricky, the youngest, witness to the family traumas and cause of a few himself, openly gay, eclectically New Age, and a successful songwriter and composer. And all Sam and Eve ever wanted - like millions of others who had experienced the Depression and the war - was a "normal family".

Katz tells the Gordons' story - the unraveling of Sam's and Eve's American dream, to the slow, hopeful reknitting of the family - marshaling a vivid cast of supporting characters. Deftly juxtaposing day-to-day family life with landmark public events, Katz creates a rich and revealing portrait of the second half of the 20th century in America.

  • Reissued as a revised print edition and eBook under Archer in 2014
  • Print edition coming this fall
  • Available as an audiobook at Audible, Amazon and iTunes
  • Featuring a new introduction by Jonathan Alter and a new afterword by Ricky Ian Gordon

To request a review copy or for all media inquiries, please contact: jennifer@lisaweinert.com

624 pages • Archer / Rare Bird Books
Available in audio and ebook formats



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.

For his leadership of the company since inception, Donald Katz won the 2004 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for New Jersey. 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.


“This is American social history at its best.” –David Halberstam

“Mesmerizing, important” —The New York Times

“Superb…Donald Katz never lets his material descend to sensationalism. He writes with clarity and poise. His panoramic approach, with background details fleshing out the spirit of the age, brings scene after scene to painful, poignant life.” –Dan Cryer, Newsday

“Remarkable…The collective candor of the Gordons offers then rest of us a new lens through which to view the 1960s experience.” –Washington Post Book World

“A flat-out marvel of reportage.” –Glamour

“Katz’s familial lens on recent history belongs on a shelf with classics. There is Balzac here, and Theodore Dreiser, with a touch of John Gunther, John Dos Passos and William Manchester.” –Jonathan Alter

"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... 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. –Publisher's Weekly

New York Observer, November 20, 2014 | "Can you hear me now? Audible CEO DOnald KATz re-issues his seminal book 'home fires'