The 2020 Jewish Book festival features outstanding works from the year's most sought-after and talked about authors. We invite you to meet the authors and celebrate their contributions to Jewish and cultural life.



The Rival Jewish Dynasties That helped create modern China


By the 1930s, the Sassoons had been doing business in China for a century, rivaled in wealth and influence by only one other dynasty – the Kadoories. These two Jewish families, both originally from Baghdad, stood astride Chinese business and politics from more than 175 years profiting from the Opium Wars, surviving as the Communists swept into power.

The book lays bare the moral compromises of the two families – and their exceptional foresight success and generosity.

In the Last Kings of Shanghai, Jonathan Kaufman tells the remarkable history of how these families participated in and economic boom that opened China to the world.


Jonathan Kaufman

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who has written and reported on China for thirty years for the Boston Glove, where he covered the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square; The Wall Street Journal, where he served as China bureau chief from 2002 to 2005; and Bloomberg News.

He is the author of A Hole in the heart of the World: Being Jewish in Eastern Europe and Broken Alliance: The Turbulent Times Between Blacks and Jewish in America, winner of a National Jewish Book Award. He is the director of the School of Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston


The True Story of Mossad’s Fake Diving Resort


In the early 1980s, on a remote part of the Sudanese coast, a new luxury resort opened for business. Catering to divers, it attracted guests from around the world. Little did the guests know that the staff members were undercover spies, working for the Mossad – the Israeli secret service. Written by long time BBC Middle East correspondent Raffi Berg, this page-turner tells the true story that inspired the recent Netflix drama the Red Sea Diving Resort.

What began with once cryptic message pleading for help, turned into the secret evacuation of thousands of Ethiopian Jews and the spiriting of them to Israel.


Raffi Berg

Raffi Berg is the Middle East editor of the BBC News website. A journalist for nearly 30 years, he has a particular interest in events in Israel, from where he has reported extensively in times of war and peace. He graduated in Modern and Medieval History from the London School of Economics, and was a student of Jewish and Israel studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Raffi is based in London, where he lives with his family.


The Untold Story of Hitler’s Plot to Kill FDR, Churchill, and Stalin


It’s 1943 and the three Allied leaders are meeting for the first time at a top-secret conference in Tehran. But the Nazis have learned about the meeting and Hitler sees it as his last chance to turn the tide. Although the war is undoubtedly lost, the Germans believe that perhaps a new set of Allied leaders might be willing to make a more reasonable peace in its aftermath.


Howard Blum

Author of the New York times bestseller and Edgar Award winner American Lightning as well as Wanted!, The Gold of Exodus, Gangland, The Floor of Heaven, and most recently a 2018 New York Times Notable Book, in the Enemy’s House. While at The New York Times, he was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. He is the father of three children and lives in Connecticut.


Memoir of a Jewish-Iranian Daughter Caught Between the Chador and America

Esther Amini grow up in Queens, New York during the freewheeling 1960s. She also grew up in a Persian-Jewish household, an American-born daughter of parents who had fled Mashhad, Iran. In Concealed, she tells the story of being caught between these two worlds: the dutiful daughter of tradition-bound parents who hungers for more self-determination than tradition allows. Exploring the roots of her father’s deep silences and explosive temper, her mother’s flamboyance and flights from home, and her own sense of indebtedness to her Iranian-born brothers, Amini uncovers the story of her parent’s early years in Mashhad, Iran’s holiest Muslim city; the little=known history of Mashhad’s underground Jews; the incident that steeled her mother’s resolve to leave; and her parents’ arduous journey to the US, where they faced a new threat to their traditions: the threat of freedom.


Esther Amini

Writer, painter, and psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice. Her short stories have appeared in Elle, Lilith, Tablet, The Jewish Week, Barnard Magazine, TK University’s Inscape Literary, and Proximity. She was named one of Aspen Words’ two best-emerging memoirists and awarded its Emerging Writer Fellowship in 2016 based on her memoir Concealed. Her pieces have been performed by Jewish Women’s theatre in Los  Angeles and in Manhattan and she was chosen by JWT as their Artist-in-Residence in 2019.


A True (as Told to Me) Story

Bess Kalb, saved every voicemail her grandmother, Bobby Bell, ever left her. Bobby was a force –irrepressible glamorous unapologetically opinionated. Bobby doted on Bess; Bess adored Bobby. Then at ninety, Bobby died. But in this debut memoir, Bobby is speaking to Bess once more in a voice as passionate as it ever was in life. Recounting both family lore and family secrets, Bobby brings us four generations of indomitable women and the men who loved them.


Bess Kalb

Bess Kalb is an Emmy-nominated writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live. Her writing for the show earned her a Writer’s Guild Award in 2016. She has also written for the Oscars and the Emmys. A regular contributor to the New Yorker’s “Daily Shouts,” her work has been published in the New Republic, Grantland,, Wired, the Nation, and elsewhere.



It is 1939 in Berlin, Germany, and twelve-year-old Lillian and her Papa are on the run from Nazi soldiers. Because they are Jewish, they are in danger of being arrested and put in prison. Lillian’s father is blind and it seems no one is willing to help them, until they meet Otto Weidt. Mr. Weidt runs a factory that makes brushes for the Nazi army, and his secret is that he employs blind Jewish workers. Lillian learns that Otto Weidt is determined to keep her, Papa, and all the Jewish workers safe. But will he be able to?


Kathy Kacer

Kathy Kacer is the author of numerous stories of the Holocaust for young readers, including Shanghai Escape, The Brave Princess and Me, and To Look a Nazi in the Eye. Her books have won both the Canadian and US Jewish book awards. A former psychologist, Kathy speaks to audiences about keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive. She lives in Toronto.



At the end of WWII, the American government and military initiated programs to recruit former Nazis to work against the Soviet Union in the coming Cold War. One of these programs, Operation Paperclip, brought former physicists to the United States. Known Nazis and their families were granted relief from prosecution and new lives in America.


A.J Sidransky

A.J. Sidransky’s works include Forgiving Maximo Rothman a National Jewish Book Awards finalist for Debut Fiction in 2013. Forgiving Mariela Camacho received the David Award for Best Mystery 2016. The Interpreter is the first installment in his new “Justice” seires. “The Just Men of Bennett Avenue” appears in the short story anthology Jewish Noir II (September 2020).

Here is an updated link for the bonus short story for The Interpreter about Kristallnacht.


Unmasking the “Angel of Death”


Mengele is a compelling biography of the infamous Nazi doctor and a gripping narrative of the quest to bring him to justice. David G. Marwell tasked with uncovering Josef Mengele’s fate, draws from new sources and scholarship to deliver a richly detailed work that dispels many of the myths obscuring the physician’s identity.


David G. Marwell

David G. Marwell, who has a Ph.D in Modern European History, worked on the Mengele case at the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations in the 1980s. A historian who has served as Director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City and Associate Museum Director of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., Marwell lives in Univerisity Park, Maryland with his wife.


How Hitler Came to Power

The chilling and little-known story of Adolf Hitler’s eight-year march to the pinnacle of German politics.


Peter Rose Range

Peter Rose Range is a world-traveled journalist who has covered war, politics, and international affairs. A specialist in Germany, he has written extensively for Time, The New York Times, National Geographic, The London Sunday Times Magazine, Playboy, and US News & World Report, where he was a White House correspondent. He has also been and Institute of Politics Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a Guest Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, and a Distinguished International Visiting Fellow at the University of North Carolina Jorunalism School. He lives in Washington, D.C.