Nick Kotz on writing The Harness Maker’s Dream in The Kirkus Review
BACK STORY: A PULITZER-WINNING JOURNALIST EXAMINES HIS OWN FAMILY
by Nick Kotz on November 7, 2013
After many years as a journalist—investigating presidents, congressmen, and labor union officials, examining the military-industrial complex, civil rights and social justice issues—I never imagined that the most challenging and rewarding story would be about my own family.
Growing up in San Antonio, I knew little about my Kallison grandparents in whose home my mother and I lived for the first twelve years of my life. They were two of 23 million men, women and children—two million of them Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe—who surged into the United States from 1880 through 1920—and they rarely spoke of their pasts. Read more
Both historical study and ancestral narrative, The Harness Maker’s Dream follows the story of Ukrainian immigrant Nathan Kallison’s journey to the United States in search of a brighter future. At the turn of the twentieth century, over two million Jews emigrated from Czarist Russia and Eastern Europe to escape anti-Semitic law. Seventeen-year-old Kallison and his brothers were among those brave enough to escape persecution and pursue a life of freedom by leaving their homeland in 1890. Faced with the challenges of learning English and earning wages as a harness maker in Chicago, Kallison struggles to adapt to his new environment.
Kallison moves to San Antonio, Texas, where he finds success by founding one of the largest farm and ranch supply businesses in South Texas and eventually running one of the region’s most innovative ranches. Despite enormous changes in environment and lifestyle, Kallison and his beloved wife Anna manage to maintain their cultural heritage by raising their children in the Jewish faith, teaching them that family values and a strong sense of character are more important than any worldly achievement.
The son of Nathan’s daughter Tibe, author Nick Kotz provides a moving account of his ancestors’ search for the American dream. Kotz’s work has received recognition by the Texas Jewish Historical Society for eloquently depicting the reality of life for Jewish immigrants in Texas during this time and delineating their significant contributions to society. Kotz’s insight into the life of this inspiring individual will prompt readers to consider their own connections to America’s immigrant past and recognize the beauty of our nation’s diverse history.
Nick Kotz is available to speak about The Harness Maker’s Dream. For additional information, please click here to contact him.