In her memoir, My Mother’s Wars, the historian Lillian Faderman has pursued the wish of many children — an opportunity to fully understand her mother’s life. Faderman’s quest has produced an interesting book that describes the harshness and joys of living as a Jewish immigrant in the early twentieth century. Her mother’s pluck and ingenuity shine through as we learn about her life with her lover Moishe, her efforts to help her family in Latvia, her oppressive work situation in the garment industry and then her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter, Lillian. Her mother was a pioneer in many ways. She was a single mother who never married the father of her child and gave birth to her beloved daughter at the age of 44 years old.
Faderman is a skilled storyteller and a careful documentarian. As she says in her “Afterword,” many of the historical details in the book have been provided by extensive research.” It is these historical details and Faderman’s lyrical storytelling skill that make this book such an inviting read.
Lillian Faderman is an internationally known scholar of ethnic and lesbian history and a respected memoirist. Her books include To Believe in Women, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers. Her honors include Yale University’s James Brudner Award for exemplary scholarship in Lesbian and gay studies, the Monette-Horwitz Award, and the American Association of University Women’s National Distinguished Scholar Award. Bibliography, index, notes, and photos (b&w).