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Just the Way You Want Me

A Novel by Nora Eisenberg

Endowed with Beauty, Grace and Compassion, An Achingly Realistic Portrait of 1950's America That Strongly Echoes Today's Political Climate*

A ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Finalist

In response to 9/11 and the war in Iraq, the Homeland Security Act and the Patriot Act have endowed the government with wide-ranging powers to investigate citizens’ lives in the name of fighting terrorism. Many fear, however, that this new authority threatens to reignite the abuses of the McCarthy era during the Cold War, when the reputations, careers, and civil liberties of thousands of Americans and their families were swept away in a wave of patriotic hysteria.

In her widely praised “memoir-novel,” The War at Home, Nora Eisenberg combined great compassion, observation and humor to render the emotional and cultural complexities of just such a family.  In this timely new novel, Eisenberg tells the story of Betsy Ross Vogel, daughter of the infamous Sam Vogel, a self-styled American patriot and charismatic labor leader in the 1950’s who, refusing to sign a loyalty oath, runs afoul of the FBI and ends up running for the rest of his life. At the heart of this novel matters of love, loyalty, and honesty burn with rare intensity, as do alarming parallels to the politics of today. For then, as now, a “with us or against us” standard sought to silence those who raised their voices against government policy. And sadly, then, as now, children were left to face the frightening repercussions of their parents’ political choices.

“In this bruising, funny and restless novel, Eisenberg examines the disfiguring legacies of Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist inquisition and supplies a probing meditation on the disorderly world of a far-from-ordinary family, patiently weighing the question of who can be held ultimately to account for their tribulations.”

—The Washington Post

“In her second novel (after The War at Home), Eisenberg takes readers back to post-World War II America, when McCarthyism was in full bloom [and presents] an achingly realistic portrait of 1950s America that strongly echoes today's political climate. Eisenberg presents fully realized characters in prose endowed with beauty, grace, and compassion."

—Library Journal (starred review)*

“Some of Eisenberg's liveliest writing… Familiar with the foibles and self-deceptions of leftist circles, she portrays this milieu with a mixture of satire and affection. Eisenberg has a sharp eye for the ways in which people manage to deceive themselves [and] deftly portrays the drawbacks of a man so intent on serving his cause and demonstrating his principles that he sacrifices the needs of his wife and children.”

—The Los Angeles Times

”Patriotism is a powerful motivator. Love of country can bind political and cultural factions into one nation but also can be wielded to punish those who don't conform to majority views. Idealism also has two sides. True believers will make great sacrifices for their cause, but if their ideological purity devolves into single-minded stubbornness, friends and family may be gravely hurt. In her timely new novel, "Just the Way You Want Me," Nora Eisenberg reminds us once again that wars of ideology incur collateral damage, and that just as in shooting wars, it's often innocent women and children who are caught in the line of fire.”

—The Hartford Courant

“Eisenberg weaves two distinct plot lines--the strength of familial ties and the insidious effects of McCarthyism--into her vibrant and edifying second novel [an] often humorous odyssey enlivened by the odd assortment of family and friends her protagonist meets along the way.”


“Eisenberg follows a woman as she searches for her father—presumed dead for 20 years…The mystery here never overwhelms the charm of Betsy’s story, a comfortable balance between seriousness and sweet-natured humor.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Nora Eisenberg writes with an integrity, energy and social sense rare in contemporary American fiction. With striking compassion and vision, she examines our past, to find values that might guide us in a troubled present. A compelling new voice.”

—Vivian Gornick

“Nora Eisenberg is one of our finest contemporary authors. With Just the Way You Want Me she once again brings us her signature blend of dazzling prose, wild wit, and tremendous humanity. This book is a triumph.”

Lisa Dierbeck, Author of One Pill Makes You Smaller

Nora_Eisenberg_small.GIF (9498 bytes) Nora Eisenberg’s first novel, The War at Home, was chosen a Washington Post Book World Book Rave of 2002 and won enthusiastic acclaim from critics nationwide. She is a Professor of English at the City University of New York (La Guardia) and the co-author of four influential text books on writing. Her short fiction and prose have appeared in The Partisan Review, The Village Voice, Choice, Tikkun and The Los Angeles Times.  She lives in Manhattan

An Interview With Nora Eisenberg by ForeWord Magazine Editor Mardi Link

$14.95 Paperback Original
ISBN: 0-9679520-8-5
216 Pages / 6 x 9 
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