Born in Brooklyn and raised in Great Neck, New York, I grew up hearing stories that my

immigrant Jewish grandparents told about the “old country” (Russia) that they left at the turn of

the last century. How I wish I had recorded and video-taped every one of their memories.

An avid reader for as long as I remember, I graduated from Harvard College in 1975 with a

degree in history and literature and went on to New College, Oxford, where I received an MA in

English in 1977. After a brief stint in book publishing, I launched my career as a freelance writer.

In recent years, I have been writing suspense-driven narrative non-fiction about the lives of

people caught up in events beyond their control, be it catastrophic weather, war, or genocide. My

2004 book The Children’s Blizzard, a national bestseller, won the Washington State Book Award

and the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and was nominated for a Quill Award.

I write frequently for the New York Times Travel Section, and I have also published in the

Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Seattle Times and Seattle Metropolitan.