Essential Pittsburgh
2:30 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

The Jewish 20th Century Through the Experiences of One Family

One of David Laskin's relatives who immigrated to the US was Aunt Itel, a "genius at branding" who founded the Maidenform bra company.
Credit David Laskin

David Laskin is a Seattle based writer and author of the award-winning book, The Children’s Blizzard.

In his latest work, The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century, Laskin tells the stories of three branches of his family: European victims of the Holocaust, pioneers of Palestine, and those who immigrated to America and founded the Maidenform Bra Company.

While he had some trepidation about talking to his Israeli family members for the book, Laskin says he quickly found his fears to be unfounded.

“For them, the family that was killed [in the Holocaust] was very close family. It was their grandmother, it was their aunts and uncles and all of their cousins. So I thought ‘I’m walking into their living room, unmet, unknown and I’m gonna start asking really really searching questions about their past, about their history’ And they were so open, so welcoming, we became family within 5 minutes and that was the greatest gift of the book really, finding new family.”

Although The Family is an exploration of his own roots, Laskin says he hopes the book reveals the potential stories of every family and that people will be inspired to research their own background.

“When you dig into your family tree you will find amazing connections to history.”