The 2020-21 People of the Book Author Lecture Series offers a dazzling array of author events.
This year, 29 authors present at 28 events via Zoom.

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Scroll the listings of authors, dates, and descriptions below; or, click the button below to download the People of the Book program guide for a more detailed description of the entire scope of this year's People of the Book program, and a handy order form you can print out.



Multiple purchase options give you plenty of choice!  Choose from the all-encompassing  "Page Turner Pass," various sponsorship levels, and finally, individual ticket options also. Then, place your order via this online portal; or, via phone at 941.552.6305 during normal business hours, 9am - 5pm M-F.


  • PAGE TURNER PASS - $108 - includes ALL 25 events
  • MONTHLY PASS - $18/series
  • A LA CARTE - $10/event





  • Alexandra Silber, Bess Kalb, Jason Rosenthal, Parnaz Foroutan

DECEMBER SERIES: Jewish Identity

  • Danielle Renov, Butnik & Leibovitz, Rabbi Corinne Copnick

JANUARY SERIES: Arts & Culture

  • Alan Zweibel, Ben Sheehan, Myla Goldberg


  • Susan Jane Gilman, Rachel Barenbaum, Meg Waite Clayton, Lynda Cohen Loigman


  • Raffi Berg , Steven Zipperstein, Maurice Samuels


  • Pamela Nadell, Janice Kaplan, Bill Haltom

JUNE SERIES: Holocaust

  • Debbie Cenziper, Michael Dobbs, Neal Bascomb


  • Howard Blum, Esther Amini, Ariana Neumann



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    • Includes 10 event books of your choosing
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    • Recognition in all People of the Book Marketing
  • BRONZE: $2,500
    • Tax deductible amount $1,420
    • Admission to all 25 events
    • Invite up to four additional participants in events
    • Includes four event books of your choosing
    • Post-event virtual meet & greet with one of the authors
    • Recognition in People of the Book brochure, website and pre-event slideshows
  • COPPER: $1,000
    • Tax deductible amount $460
    • Admission to all 25 events
    • Invite up to two additional participants in events
    • Includes two event books of your choosing
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  • PEWTER: $540
    • Tax deductible amount $270
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    • Includes one event books of your choosing
    • Recognition on People of the Book pre-event slideshows


Button will connect you via phone with Jeremy Lisitza at 941.343.2113.

QUESTIONS? Contact Jeremy Lisitza at or 941.343.2113


|  Click the author's photo to be directed to their website; click on their book to access its Jewish Book Club write-up and purchase button.  |

October 14, 2020

7:00 PM





If you are not familiar with the name Stephen Tobolowsky, you will certainly recognize his face! The quintessential character actor, Stephen has appeared in more than 100 movies and 200 television shows, including unforgettable roles in Mississippi Burning, Groundhog Day and Glee. He is also the consummate storyteller – warm, funny and profound.



My Adventures With God, Stephen’s second book, is a col­lection of humorous, introspective stories that tells of a boy growing up in the wilds of Texas finding and losing love, losing and finding himself – all told through the prism of the Torah and Talmud, mixed with insights from science, and refined through a child’s sense of wonder. My Adven­tures With God not only shines a light into the life of one of America’s most beloved actors, but also provides a structure to evaluate our own lives and relationship with God.


This masterful storyteller will be sharing a story from the book, followed by what is sure to be a lively discussion.



October 28, 2020
7:00 PM




To paraphrase an old cliché, put any two Jews together and you’ll have three opinions about Jewish food. Ask them to name the most Jewish Food and the list turns highly debatable – exactly the best way to describe The 100 Most Jewish Foods, edited by Alana Newhouse of Tablet magazine.




Informative, unexpected, passionate, quirky and rich with layers of tradition and history, like an edible timeline tracing the diaspora, it’s a book that cel­ebrates the one unwavering constant of Jewish life: Food.

The book is not about the most popular Jewish foods, or the tastiest, or even the most enduring. It’s a list of the most significant foods, culturally and his­torically, to the Jewish people, explored deeply with essays, recipes, stories and context. The recipes are global and represent all contingencies of the Jewish experience. Contributors include Ruth Reichl, Joan Nathan, Michael Solomonov, Dan Barber, Gail Simmons, Maira Kalman, Shalom Auslander, Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Phil Rosenthal among many others.

Alana Newhouse is the founder and editor in chief of Tablet, a daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas and culture. A graduate of Barnard College and Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, Newhouse has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and Slate.

November 2, 2020

7:00 PM




Alexandra “Al” Silber seems to have everything: brilliance, beauty and talent in spades. But when her beloved father dies after a decade-long battle with cancer when she is just a teenager, it feels like the end of everything. Lost in grief, Al and her mother hardly know where to begin with the rest of their lives. Into this grieving house burst Al’s three friends from theater camp, determined to help out as only drama students know how. Over the course of that winter, the household will do battle with everything Death can throw at them – meddling relatives, merciless bureaucracy, soul-sapping sadness, the endless Tupperware. They will learn (almost) everything about love and will eventu­ally return to the world, each altered by their time in a home by a river. Told with raw passion, candor and wit, White Hot Grief Parade is an ode to the restorative power of family and friendship – and the unbreakable bond, even in death, between father and daughter.




Alexandra Silber is an actress and Grammy-nominated singer who starred as Tzeitel in the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, and Hodel in the same show in London’s West End. Her other credits include Master Class, Arlington, Carousel, Kiss Me Kate and Cabaret. She lives in New York City.



November 3, 2020
2:00 PM




Bess Kalb, Emmy-nominated TV writer and The New Yorker contributor, 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 90, 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. There’s Bobby’s mother, who traveled solo from Belarus to America in the 1880s to escape the pogroms, and Bess’s mother, a 1970s rebel who always fought against convention. Then, there’s Bess, who grew up in New York and entered the rough-and-tumble world of LA television. Her grandma Bobby was with her all the way. She was the light of Bess’s childhood and her fiercest supporter, giving Bess unequivocal love.




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.

November 4, 2020

7:00 PM




On March 3, 2017, beloved children’s book author Amy Krouse Rosenthal published an extraordinary essay in The New York Times’ "Modern Love" column entitled “You May Want to Marry My Husband.” Coming out a mere 10 days before Amy’s death from ovarian cancer, the piece – a creative and heartbreaking play on a personal ad – encouraged her husband Jason to find happiness after she died. The column went viral, reaching over five million people worldwide and sparking an emotional conversation about love and loss. In his memoir, Jason details their remarkable love story, it’s painful end, and what happened after. In tracing the tapestry of his life with Amy, Jason recalls a storybook marriage that ended far too soon. He offers sage advice for others suffering from loss, and shares how Amy’s Modern Love column became her final gift to him, granting him the freedom to imagine what the rest of his life could look like. The end result is a tender rumination on finding yourself in the wake of tremendous loss, and discovering ways to look toward a brighter future. 




Jason B. Rosenthal is the number one New York Times bestselling author of Dear Boy, cowritten with his daughter Paris. He is the board chair of the Amy Krouse Rosenthal Foundation, which supports both childhood literacy and research in early detection of ovarian cancer. A lawyer, public speaker and devoted father of three, he is passionate about helping others find ways to fill their blank spaces as he continues to fill his own...



November 5, 2020
2:00 PM




Unmoored by the death of her father and disenchanted by the American dream, Parnaz Foroutan leaves Los Angeles for Iran 19 years after her family fled the religious police state brought in by the Islamic theocracy. From the moment Parnaz steps off the plane in Tehran, she contends with a world she only partially understands. Struggling with her own identity in a culture that feels both foreign and familiar, she tries to find a place for herself between the American girl she is and the woman she hopes to become. Written with the same literary grace and passion as her fiction, Home is a Stranger is a memoir about the meaning of desire, the transcendence of boundaries, and the journey to find home.




Parnaz Foroutan is the author of The Girl from the Garden, which received the PEN Emerging Voices Award and was named one of Booklist’s “Top 10 First Novels” of 2015.

December 10, 2020

10:30 AM




All Stirred Up – Suffrage Cookbooks, Food, and the Battle for Women’s Right to Vote is a delectable book that reveals a new side to the history of the suffrage movement. We all likely conjure up a similar image of the women’s suffrage movement: picket signs, red carnations, militant marches through the streets. But was it only these rallies that gained women the exposure and power that led them to the vote? Courageous and creative suffragists also carried their message into America’s homes wrapped in food wisdom through cookbooks, which ingenuously packaged political strategy.

These cookbooks gave suffragists a chance to reach out to women on their own terms in nonthreatening and accessible ways. Filled with charm, wit and actual historic recipes (“mix the crust with tact and velvet gloves using no sarcasm especially with the upper crust”) that evoke the spirited flavor of feminism and food movements, All Stirred Up reactivates the taste of an era and carries us back through time to when women enfranchised themselves through the subversive and savvy power of the palate.

After several decades as a lawyer, Laura Kumin started her blog, Mother Would Know, and authored The Hamilton Cookbook. She has taught a course called Dishing the Diaspora to teens and done adult education programs. She writes for the Jewish Food Experience.



December 15, 2020
7:00 PM





This highly entertaining encyclopedia of all things Jewish and Jew-ish covers culture, religion, history, habits, language and more. Readers will refresh their knowledge of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, the artistry of Barbra Streisand, the significance of the Oslo Accords, the meaning of words like balaboosta, balagan, bashert and bageling. Understand all the major and minor holidays. Learn how the Jews invented Hollywood. Remind themselves why they need to read Hannah Arendt, watch Sein­feld, listen to Leonard Cohen. Includes hundreds of photos, charts, info­graphics and illustrations. It’s a lot.




Stephanie Butnick is the deputy editor of Tablet and has written for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She has a bachelor’s degree in religion from Duke and a master’s in religious studies from NYU. Liel Leibovitz is a senior writer for Tablet and author of several books, including A Broken Hallelujah, a spiritual biography of Leonard Cohen.


December 16, 2020

7:00 PM





While most people were enjoying well-deserved retirement, at age 73, author Rabbi Corinne Copnick began her six-year course of study and was ordained a rabbi at the age of 79. The ordination was the beginning of a new adventure; she’s had an unconventional “pulpit.” In A Rabbi at Sea, Rabbi Copnick narrates 40 interconnected stories of her travel experiences as a guest rabbi on cruise ships. On every journey and in every country visited, she discovered and explored Jewish life – from Hawaii to Australia, the Mediterranean, North Africa, Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and everywhere in between. Offering a global perspective, she presents a host of insights about the culture and the people she encountered throughout her travels.



Rabbi Corinne Copnick has a professional background in the arts – a radio actress in her youth, an art gallery owner in mid-life, and an award-winning writer throughout. She is the founder of Beit Kulam, an adult education group in L.A., and serves as a dayan in a rabbinic court. During the last several years, she has sailed as a guest rabbi on multiple cruises.



January 5, 2021
7:00 PM





Alan Zweibel started his comedy career selling jokes for seven dollars apiece to the last of the Borscht Belt standups. Then one night, despite bombing on stage, he caught the attention of Lorne Michaels and became one of the first writers at Saturday Night Live, where he penned classic material for Gilda Radner, John Belushi and all of the original “Not Ready For Prime Time Players.” From SNL, he went on to have a hand in a series of landmark shows – from It’s Garry Shandling’s Show to Curb Your Enthusiasm. Throughout the pages of Laugh Lines, Zweibel weaves together his own stories and interviews with his friends and contemporaries including Richard Lewis, Eric Idle, Bob Saget, Sarah Silver­man, Dave Barry and Carl Reiner. The book also features a charming foreword from his friend of 45 years, Billy Crystal.




Alan Zweibel has won multiple Emmy and Writers Guild of America awards for his work in television. He also collaborated with Billy Crystal on the Tony Award-winning Broadway play 700 Sundays, and won the Thurber Prize for American Humor for his novel, The Other Shulman.


January 6, 2021

7:00 PM





Do you know what the Constitution ACTUALLY says? This witty and high­ly relevant annotation of our founding document is the go-to guide to how our government really works (or is supposed to work). Written by political savant and entertainment veteran Ben Sheehan, and vetted for accuracy by experts in the field of constitutional law, OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say? is an entertaining and accessible guide that explains what the Constitution actually lays out. With clear notes and graphics on everything from presidential powers to Supreme Court nominations to hidden loopholes, Sheehan walks us through the entire Constitution, from its preamble to its final amendment (with a bonus section on the Declaration of Independence).




Ben Sheehan is a former award-winning executive producer at Funny Or Die. He founded OMG WTF (Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida) to teach voters about state-level races during the 2018 midterms. The Hollywood Reporter named him one of entertainment’s 35 Rising Executives Under 35.



January 7, 2021
10:30 AM





Feast Your Eyes, framed as the catalogue notes from a photography show at the Museum of Modern Art, tells the life story of Lillian Preston: “America’s Worst Mother, America’s Bravest Mother, America’s Worst Photographer or America’s Greatest Photographer, depending on who was talking.” After discovering pho­tography and moving to New York City, Lillian is arrested and thrust into the national spotlight when a small gallery exhibits partially nude photographs of Lillian and her daughter Samantha, changing the course of both of their lives. Narrated by Samantha, the book reads as a collection of her memories, inter­views with Lillian’s friends and lovers, and excerpts from Lillian’s journals and letters – a collage of stories and impressions, together amounting to an astound­ing portrait of a mother and an artist dedicated, above all, to a vision of beauty, truth and authenticity.




Myla Goldberg is the bestselling author of The False Friend, Wickett’s Rem­edy and Bee Season, which was a New York Times Notable Book, a winner of the Borders New Voices Prize, a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, and was adapted to film and widely translated.


February 8, 2021

10:30 AM





Forty-five-year-old Donna Koczynski is a former “bad Jewish girl” – a failed punk rocker and recovering alcoholic. Now, she’s a wise-aleck wife and mother moldering in the Detroit suburbs. That is, until she returns home one day to the surprise of a lifetime. As her world implodes, she sets off on an epic road trip to reclaim everything she believes she’s sacrificed since her wild youth: great friendship, passionate love and her art. Yet as she careens across America, nothing turns out as planned.




Ultimately, she finds herself on a remote Greek island instead, embroiled in the Syrian refugee crisis. There she comes face-to-face with the legacy and responsibilities of her Jewish heritage. She becomes humbled – and part of a much greater team committed to tikkun olam. Donna Has Left the Building is an unforgettable tale about spiritual awakening and what it really means to love in today’s big, broken, beautiful world.

Susan Jane Gilman is the bestselling author of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, Kiss My Tiara, Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven and The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. She has provided commentary for NPR and written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Ms. magazine, among others.



February 9, 2021
2:00 PM





This novel is an epic love story and heart-pounding journey across WWI-era Russia about a brilliant young scientist racing against Einstein to solve one of the greatest mysteries of the universe. In 1914, as war with Germany looms and the Czar’s army tightens its grip on the local Jewish community, Miri Abramov and her physicist brother, Vanya, face an impossible decision. Miri and Vanya were raised by a famous matchmaker who taught them to protect themselves at all costs. With headstrong Miri on the verge of becoming one of Russia’s only female surgeons, and Vanya hoping to solve the final puzzles of Einstein’s theory of relativity, how can they bear to leave their homeland? But when war is declared and Vanya disappears, Miri braves the firing squad to find him, as not only her own family’s safety but the future of science itself hangs in the balance. Grounded in history, A Bend in the Stars offers a heart-stopping account of science’s greatest race amidst the chaos of World War I.



Rachel Barenbaum’s debut novel, A Bend in the Stars, was named a New York Times Summer Reading Selection. Her second novel, The History of Time Travel, is forthcoming. She has degrees from Harvard in Business, and Literature and Philosophy.


February 10, 2021

7:00 PM





Based on true events, The Last Train to London tells the story of a Dutchwoman who, working with British and Austrian Jews, faces down Adolf Eichmann to rescue thou­sands of children from Nazi-occupied Vienna. In 1936, the Nazis are little more than brutish bores to 15-year-old Stephan, the son of a wealthy and influential Jewish fam­ily and budding playwright. Stephan’s best friend, Žofie-Helene, is a Christian whose mother edits a progressive anti-Nazi newspaper. But the two adolescents’ carefree innocence is shattered when the Nazis take control. Dutchwoman Truus Wijsmuller risks her life smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany. After Britain passes a measure to take in child refugees, “Tante Truus” dares to approach Adolf Eichmann in a race against time to bring children like Stephan, his brother Walter and Žofie-Helene on a perilous journey to an uncertain future.




Meg Waite Clayton’s screenplay for The Last Train to London was chosen for Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman, sponsored by The Writers Lab. Meg’s novels include The Race for Paris and The Wednesday Sisters, an Entertainment Weekly 25 Essential Best Friend Novels of all time. She has published some 100 short pieces in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes and Runners World.



February 11, 2021
2:00 PM





Two estranged sisters, raised in Brooklyn, and each burdened with her own shocking secret, are reunited at the Springfield Armory in the early days of WWII. While one sister lives in relative ease on the bucolic Armory campus as an officer’s wife, the other arrives as a war widow and takes a position in the Armory factories as a “soldier of production.” Resentment festers between the two, and secrets are shattered when a mysterious figure from the past reemerges in their lives.




Lynda Cohen Loigman grew up in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. She received a BA in English and American Literature from Harvard College and a law degree from Columbia Law School. Lynda practiced trusts and estates law in New York City for eight years before moving out of the city to raise her two children with her husband. She wrote The Two-Family House while she was a student of the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. The Two-Family House was chosen by Goodreads as a best book of the month for March 2016 and was a nominee for the Goodreads 2016 Choice Awards in Historical Fiction. The Wartime Sisters is her second novel.


April 13, 2021

2:00 PM





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. This page-turner tells the true story that inspired the recent Netflix drama The Red Sea Diving Resort. What began with one cryptic message pleading for help, turned into the secret evacuation of thousands of Ethiopian Jews and the spiriting of them to Israel.




Raffi Berg is the Middle East editor of the BBC News website, and has extensive ex­perience reporting on Israel and the wider region. His article, scratching the surface of this story, was the most-read original feature in the history of the site, with more than 5.5 million readers to date.



April 14, 2021
2:00 PM





During the early years of the Arab-Jewish conflict in Palestine, the parties repeatedly used the law to gain leverage against each other and influence international opinion. By the late 1920s and 1930s, the conflict had become as much a battle fought in the courtroom as in the streets, playing out in three separate trials, focusing primarily on two issues: the legality of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate for Palestine; and the parties’ rights and claims to the Wailing Wall. In two instances – the Shaw Commission in 1929 and the Lofgren Commission in 1930 – Arabs and Jews faced off against each other in full-blown trials before British and international judges. In a third instance, the 1936-37 Peel Commission, the parties used witness testimony and extensive written submissions to continue their legal advocacy. The arguments the parties made in those three trials continue resonating in the conflict today, nearly 100 years later.




Steven E. Zipperstein, a former U.S. federal prosecutor, is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Middle East Development at UCLA. He also teaches in UCLA’s Global Studies program and School of Public Affairs, and as a Visiting Professor at Tel Aviv University Law School.


April 15, 2021

10:30 AM





The year was 1832 and the French royal family was in exile, driven out by yet another revolution. From a drafty Scottish castle, the duchesse de Berry – the mother of the 11-year-old heir to the throne – hatched a plot to restore the Bourbon dynasty. For months, she commanded a guerilla army and evaded capture by disguising herself as a man. But soon she was betrayed by her trusted advisor, Simon Deutz, the son of France’s Chief Rabbi. The betrayal became a cause célèbre for Bourbon loyalists and ignited a firestorm of hate against France’s Jews. By blaming an entire people for the actions of a single man, the duchess’s supporters set the terms for the century of antisemitism that followed. Brim­ming with intrigue and lush detail, The Betrayal of the Duchess is the riveting story of a high-spirited woman, the charming but volatile young man who double-crossed her, and the birth of one of the modern world’s most deadly forms of hatred.




Maurice Samuels is the Betty Jane Anlyan Professor of French at Yale University, chair of the program in Judaic studies, and founder and director of the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism. He is the author of three books, including The Spectacular Past and Inventing the Israelite. Prior to teaching at Yale, he was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania after completing his Ph.D. at Harvard.



May 10, 2021
2:00 PM





In America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today, Pamela Nadell asks what does it mean to be a Jewish woman in America? Weaving together stories from the colonial era’s matriarch Grace Nathan and her great-granddaughter poet Emma Lazarus to union organizer Bessie Hillman and the great justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Nadell shows two threads binding the nation’s Jewish women: a strong sense of self and a resolute commitment to making the world a better place. Informed by the shared values of America’s founding and Jewish identity, America’s Jewish women – the well-known and the scores of activists, workers, wives and mothers whose names linger on among their communities – left deep footprints in the history of the nation they call home.




Professor Pamela Nadell holds the Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender History at American University where she directs the Jewish Studies Program and re­ceived the university’s highest award, Scholar/Teacher of the Year. Her books include Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women’s Ordination, 1889-1985. She is the recipient of the American Jewish Historical Society’s Lee Max Friedman Award for distinguished service.


May 11, 2021

2:00 PM





We tell girls that they can be anything, so why do 90% of Americans believe that geniuses are almost always men? Janice Kaplan explores the powerful forces that have rigged the system – and celebrates the women geniuses past and present who have triumphed anyway. Using her unique mix of memoir, narrative and inspiration, Kaplan makes surprising discoveries about women geniuses now and throughout history in fields from music to robotics. Through interviews with neuroscientists, psychologists and dozens of women geniuses at work in the world today, she proves that genius isn’t just about talent. In The Genius of Women, you’ll learn how these women ignored obstacles and broke down seemingly unshakable barriers. The geniuses in this moving, powerful and very entertaining book provide more than inspiration – they offer a clear blueprint to everyone who wants to find her own path and move forward with passion.




Janice Kaplan has enjoyed wide success as a magazine editor, television producer, writer and journalist. The former editor-in-chief of Parade magazine, she is the author or coauthor of 14 books, including New York Times bestsellers The Gratitude Diaries and I’ll See You Again.



May 12, 2021
7:00 PM





This is the story of Joseph Hanover, an unsung hero of the fight for women’s suffrage, 100 years ago. Hanover, an Orthodox Jew, had fled Poland in 1895 to escape the Czar of Russia and the pogroms. This immigrant and his family found a new life in Memphis, Tennessee. As a young new citizen of the United States, he read the Constitution and became deeply patriotic about his new homeland. But he could not understand why the rights set forth in the Constitution were not extended to all Americans. He asked his parents, “Why can’t mother vote?” He went to night law school, became a lawyer and was elected to the Tennessee Legislature. There, in August 1920, he led the successful fight for the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote. It passed the Tennessee Legislature by one vote, making Tennessee the 36th and deciding state to ratify the Amendment, making it the law of the land.




Bill Haltom is an award-winning newspaper and magazine columnist, a past editor of the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal and author of eight books.

June 15, 2021

7:00 PM





In 1990, in a basement archive in Prague, two American historians made a startling discov­ery: a Nazi roster from 1945 that no Western investigator had ever seen. The long-forgotten document helped unravel the details behind the most lethal killing operation in World War II. In the Polish village of Trawniki, the SS set up a school for mass murder and then recruited an army of 5,000 soldiers to help annihilate the Jewish population of occupied Poland. After the war, some of these men vanished, making their way to the United States and blending into communities across America, their terrible secrets intact. In a story spanning seven decades, Citizen 865 chronicles the harrowing wartime journeys of two Jewish orphans who outran the men of Trawniki and settled in the U.S., only to learn that some of their onetime captors had followed. A tenacious team of Nazi hunters pursued these men, and up against the forces of time and political opposition, battled to the present day to remove them from U.S. soil.




Debbie Cenziper is an investigative journalist and author based in Washington, D.C. A contributing reporter for the investigative team at The Washington Post, she has won many major awards in American print journalism including the 2007 Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy award for human rights reporting.



June 16, 2021
2:00 PM





Winner of the 2019 Jewish Book Club Award for Holocaust Studies, The Unwanted examines U.S. immigration policy under President Franklin D. Roosevelt through the prism of a small Jewish community on the edge of the Black Forest. It describes the quest for U.S. visas at a time when, according to journalist Dorothy Thompson, “a piece of paper with a stamp on it” was “the difference between life and death.” Battling formidable bureaucratic obstacles, some Kippenheim Jews make it to the United States while others perish in refugee camps in France and other countries. Many are murdered in Auschwitz, their applications for American visas still “pending.” Dobbs links their fate to the heated debates among U.S. officials over whether to admit refugees amid growing concerns about “fifth columnists” at a time when the American public was deeply isolationist, xenophobic and antisemitic. The Holocaust is a German story, first and foremost, but it has an American foreign policy dimension, meticulously explored in this book.



Michael Dobbs is an author and former journalist for The Washington Post. He has written six books, including The Unwanted. He won the 2019 National Jewish Book Award for Holocaust Studies.


Beat the Heat Series


July 7, 2021
7:00 PM





Night of the Assassins is the untold story of Hitler’s plot to kill FDR, Churchill and Stalin. Three world 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 of World War II.

  1. Tuesday,

July 13, 2021
7:00 PM





They were the unlikeliest of heroes. Rene Dreyfus, a former top driver on the interna­tional racecar circuit, had been banned from the best European teams – and fastest cars – by the mid-1930s because of his Jewish heritage. Charles Weiffenbach, head of the down-on-its-luck automaker Delahaye, was desperately trying to save his company as the world teetered toward the brink. Lucy Schell, the adventurous daughter of an Amer­ican multi-millionaire, yearned to reclaim the glory of her rally-driving days. As Nazi Germany launched its campaign of racial terror and pushed the world toward war, these three misfits banded together to challenge Hitler’s dominance at the apex of motorsport: the Grand Prix. Their quest for redemption culminated in a remarkable race that is still talked about in racing circles to this day – but which, soon after it ended, Hitler attempted to completely erase from history. Bringing to life this glamorous era and the sport that defined it, Faster chronicles one of the most inspiring, death-defying upsets of all time: a symbolic blow against the Nazis during history’s darkest hour.




Neal Bascomb is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of The Winter Fortress, Hunting Eichmann and The Perfect Mile, among others.


Beat the Heat Series


July 28, 2021
7:00 PM




Concealed, Memoir of a Jewish-Iranian Daughter Caught Between the Chador and America is a provoca­tive com­ing-of-age saga, recount­ing her youth and ear­ly adult­hood as a first-gen­er­a­tion Iran­ian Amer­i­can Jew­ish woman in the 1950s and ​‘60s. Her per­son­al strug­gles are inter­twined with her his­to­ry and cul­ture, as she recounts the sto­ry of her Jew­ish ances­tors.

Beat the Heat Series


August 18, 2021
7:00 PM




When Time Stopped — Written as her memoir, Ariana's father, Hans, dies leaving her a box of papers which become her roadmap to the his­to­ry of her father, to all the fam­i­ly he would nev­er speak of, and to the past he would nev­er let enter his present. Before long, Neu­mann is forced to become the detec­tive she’d played as a child if she wants to unrav­el the enig­ma of her father.



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To the following sponsors of this year's People of the Book program,

and on behalf of the Jewish community in Sarasota-Manatee,

we offer our undying gratitute and heartfelt  thank you!

You help us assure and continue our tradition of a vibrant Jewish community in Sarasota-Manatee!



2020 - 2021
Federation Torch Sponsors

Howard Berman and Sharon Sexter

Edie and David Chaifetz
Leon R. and Margaret M. Ellin
Debbie and Larry Haspel

Sylvia and Norman Samet

Bunny Skirboll

Hadassah and Martin Strobel

Lois Stulberg



Lori & David Liner



Contact Jeremy Lisitza at 941.343.2113

to become the Bronze Sponsor for People of the Book!



Marsha Eisenberg

Lisa & Bill Libman