What Sammy Knew – A Novel

A turbulent coming-of-age novel about a young man who loses his innocence and finds his soul in the ferment of New York City in 1970

On the brink of a new decade, as the radical 1960s turns to the 1970s, seventeen-year-old Sam Stein is about to grow up in a hurry. Raised in a cushy Long Island suburb where his parents consign him to the care of Tutu Carter, their live-in housekeeper, Sam is learning uncomfortable truths about his place and privilege in his relationship with Tutu and in the world. When he stumbles into a New Year’s party and meets firebrand Kim Goodman, his life is changed forever. In short order, he falls in love and flees with her to the drug-soaked East Village of Manhattan, and gets swept up in the revolutionary political movements of the time.

An aspiring writer, Sam bears witness to the seismic upheavals of the day while remaining utterly blind to a high-stakes plot that Kim and her comrades are executing right under his nose. As seemingly unrelated events click into place, what Sammy knew and what Sammy didn’t know become matters of life and death – not only for himself and Kim, but for Tutu and her grandson Leon in Harlem, and for the radical protest movement teetering between disillusion and revolution. Compulsively readable, peopled by unforgettable characters, crackling with wit and suspense, What Sammy Knew brilliantly evokes a chaotic, dangerously polarized, and historically important moment in America.

“Laskin’s narrative captures it all–the fervor, the drugs, the sex, the politics, the magic, the tragedy of the 60s and 70s and most of all the angst of that wonderful, terrible time. A fun, transporting, and evocative read.” –Daniel James Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat

The Long Way Home

Winner of the Washington State Book Award in 2011, The Long Way Home follows twelve men who were born in Europe, came to the United States in search of freedom and opportunity, and recrossed the Atlantic in uniform to fight in the Great War. Vivid and emotional, the book recounts how the crucible of war transformed the Ellis Island generation from immigrants into fiercely loyal American citizens.

The Children’s Blizzard

An award-winning classic of creative non-fiction, The Children’s Blizzard is the true story of an epic winter storm that hit the Upper Midwest on January 12, 1888. Laskin unfolds this blizzard of unprecedented suddenness and ferocity by focusing on half a dozen pioneer families – most of them immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia. Hailed by the Washington Post as “a vital addition to the lore of Western immigrant pioneering,” this national bestseller has sold over 100,000 copies and has been adopted in history and literature classes in high schools and colleges nationwide.

Braving the Elements: The Stormy History of American Weather

This cultural history of North American weather begins with the arrival of humans over the land bridge that connected Alaska and Siberia during the last ice age and ends with The Weather Channel. In between, Laskin covers how weather has influenced and interacted with American science, religion, war, politics, entertainment and news media. “Laskin has pulled off an amazing feat,” reports The Washington Post, “putting together a densely researched, fast-moving chronology…fascinating.”

Partisans: Marriage, Politics and Betrayal among the New York Intellectuals

The writers associated with the Partisan Review, including Mary McCarthy, Edmund Wilson, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, Diana and Lionel Trilling, and Hannah Arendt, were among the most brilliant – and contentious – intellectuals in American history. In this dazzling, sharply opinionated book, Laskin delves into the intersection between the private lives, politics and literary creations of this intense circle. Winner of the Washington State Book Award, Partisans brings to life an era when writers lived lives of passionate often self-destructive intensity.