January 12, 1888, began as an unseasonably warm morning across Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Minnesota, the weather so mild that children walked to school without coats and gloves. But that afternoon, without warning, the atmosphere suddenly, violently changed. One moment the air was calm; the next the sky exploded in a raging chaos of horizontal snow and hurricane-force winds. Temperatures plunged as an unprecedented cold front ripped through the center of the continent.
"True Account of 1888 Prairie Blizzard"
In the latter half of the 19th century Laskin's great-great-grandfather, a Torah scribe named Shimon Dov HaKohen, raised six children with his wife, Beyle, at the western fringe of the Russian empire. The HaKohen family split off into three branches. One branch emigrated to America and founded the fabulously successful Maidenform Bra Company; one branch went to Palestine as pioneers and participated in the contentious birth of the state of Israel; and the third branch remained in Europe and suffered the Holocaust.
"Great potential, but doesn't quite make it"
The United States has always been a nation of immigrants---never more so than in 1917 when the nation entered the First World War. Of the 2.5 million soldiers who fought with U.S. armed forces in the trenches of France and Belgium, some half a million---nearly one out of every five men---were immigrants. In The Long Way Home, David Laskin, author of the prizewinning history The Children's Blizzard, tells the stories of 12 of these immigrant heroes.