Back to previous page

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.

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

"Friedman's dismantling of myths becomes a thrilling mystery, fearless reimagining, and fresh historical portrait that seems to live and breathe. Scrupulous research and shimmering prose make for a fascinating read—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, in Jason K. Friedman's Liberty Street, he provides a strange and fully compelling bildungsroman, though from a distant perspective, which I've never really seen before."—Jonathan Rabb, author of several novels including Among the Living

"With clarity, intelligence, precision, and a healthy dose of sultry Southern detail, Jason K. Friedman's Liberty Street: A Savannah Family, Its Golden Boy, and the Civil War brings to light a remarkable slice of American history. The story of Gratz Cohen speaks to questions we continue to grapple with today."—Aaron Hamburger, author of Hotel Cuba

"Ironically titled, Liberty Street explores 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

Books, News & Resources!

Sign up to receive updates on new books, promotions, and USC Press news.