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Size: 6 x 9
Pages: 288
Illustrations: 15 b&w halftones, 2 maps

Southern History
Civil War
New & Noteworthy
Jewish Studies
Queer Studies
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Liberty Street

A Savannah Family, Its Golden Boy, and the Civil War

Jason K. Friedman

Published: Apr 30 2024




Published: Apr 30 2024

OA Ebook
Published: Apr 30 2024


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

Purchasing a historic Savannah home unlocks the sweeping story of a Southern Jewish family

As Jason K. Friedman renovated his flat in a grand townhouse in his hometown of Savannah, Georgia, he discovered a portal to the past. The Cohens, part of a Sephardic community in London, arrived in South Carolina in the mid-1700s; became founding members of Charleston's Jewish congregation; and went on to build home, community, and success in Savannah.

In Liberty Street: A Savannah Family, Its Golden Boy, and the Civil War Friedman takes the reader on a personal journey to understand the history of the Cohens. At the center of the story is a sensitive young man pulled between love and duty, a close-knit family straining under moral and political conflicts, and a city coming into its own. Friedman draws on letters, diaries, and his experiences traveling from Georgia to Virginia, uncovering hidden histories and exploring the ways place and collective memory haunt the present. At a moment when the hard light of truth shines on gauzy Lost-Cause myths, Liberty Street is a timely work of historical sleuthing.

Author website:

Jason K. Friedman is the author of the award-winning story collection Fire Year. He lives in San Francisco and Savannah.

"A revealing prism through which to examine a dark period of American history."—Publishers Weekly

"A thrilling mystery, fearless reimagining, and fresh historical portrait that lives and breathes. I could not put it down. And neither will you."—Andrew Sean Greer, 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner for Less

"By blending memoir, history (through the eyes of place as character), and social commentary, Liberty Street provides a strange and fully compelling bildungsroman."—Jonathan Rabb, author of several novels including Among the Living and other novels

"Written with clarity, intelligence, precision, and a healthy dose of sultry Southern detail."—Aaron Hamburger, author of Hotel Cuba

"Ironically titled, Liberty Street takes an incisive dive into the life and times of Jewish Confederate Gratz Cohen, a scion of two legendary families that straddled the Mason–Dixon line."—Dr. Dale Rosengarten, Founding curator of the Jewish Heritage Collection, College of Charleston

"The insightful product of years of research"—Savannah Morning News

"[A]n engrossing and thoughtful investigation of a slave owning Jewish family in the American South, with all of its attendant contradictions, self-justifications, and cognitive dissonances."—Lauren Gilbert, Jewish Book council

"With a seamless blend between first-person narrative style and historical examination, Liberty Street proves that the past is both personal and intensely present."—Hannah Bone, Southern Review of Books

"Intricate and well wrought, like the iron balconies of old Savannah townhouses, Liberty Street is a welcome contribution to the literature on the varieties of Jewish experience in the nineteenth-century American South as well as proof of the benefits of attending carefully to the shadows the past casts on the present."—Richard Kreitner, Jewish Review of Books

"Liberty Street is a notable addition to gay literature of the South."—Donna Meredith, Southern Literary Review

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