Loading Events

« All Events

Author Talk: Martha Hodes on ‘My Hijacking: A Personal History of Forgetting and Remembering’

Wed, June 5 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT

Register Here

Martha Hodes, professor of history at New York University, will be in conversation about her latest book, My Hijacking: A Personal History of Forgetting and Remembering. Professor Hodes will be in conversation with Valerie Ann Leff. 

In this moving and thought-provoking memoir, a historian offers a personal look at the fallibilities of memory. On September 6, 1970, 12-year-old Martha Hodes and her 13-year-old sister were flying unaccompanied back to New York City from Israel when their plane was hijacked by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and forced to land in the Jordan desert. Too young to understand the sheer gravity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Martha coped by suppressing her fear. Nearly a half-century later, her memories of those six days and nights as a hostage were hazy and scattered. Was it the passage of so much time, or that her family couldn’t endure the full story, or had trauma made her repress the experience? A professional historian, Martha wanted to find out.

Drawing on deep archival research, childhood memories, and conversations with relatives, friends, and fellow hostages, Martha re-creates what happened to her. As the hostages forged friendships and provoked conflicts, the sisters learned about the lives and causes of their captors, pondering a deadly divide that continues today. Ultimately a story of empathy, My Hijacking brings the author to a deeper understanding of what happened in the Jordan desert in 1970 and of her own fractured family and childhood sorrows.

-- -- --

Martha Hodes is professor of history at New York University. She is most recently the author of My Hijacking: A Personal History of Forgetting and Remembering (HarperCollins), which was excerpted in the New Yorker online and named an Editor’s Choice by the New York Times Book Review. Her previous book, Mourning Lincoln (Yale University Press), was awarded the Lincoln Prize and named an Editor’s Choice by the New York Times Book Review and a Best Book of the Year by the Wall Street Journal. She is also the author of two more award-winning books, The Sea Captain’s Wife: A True Story of Love, Race, and War in the Nineteenth Century (W. W. Norton) and White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South (Yale University Press). Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times, among other venues.

Hodes has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, Harvard University, the Fulbright Program, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Whiting Foundation, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library.

She has appeared on PBS, National Public Radio, and numerous podcasts, and has presented her scholarship around the world, speaking at universities and colleges, high schools and elementary schools, public libraries and historical societies, museums, national parks, and literary festivals. A winner of NYU’s Golden Dozen Award for Teaching Excellence, she offers courses on race, the Civil War, and the nineteenth-century United States, as well as courses devoted to the art and craft of history writing. She holds degrees from Bowdoin College, Harvard University, and Princeton University.

Valerie Ann Leff is co-director of the Great Smokies Writing Program at the University of North Carolina, Asheville. Portions of this novel have appeared in The Antioch ReviewChelsea, Lilith, and the South Carolina Review.

More Resources...
Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center
History Reference Center
Biography & Memoir Books


Wed, June 5
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT
Event Category:


The Westport Library
20 Jesup Road
Westport, CT 06880 United States
+ Google Map
crossmenuchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram