Larry Zuckerman

Biography

I'm the author of The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World (Faber & Faber, 1998; North Point Press, 1999) and The Rape of Belgium: The Untold Story of World War I (NYU Press, 2004).You can read more about these books by clicking on the page above marked "Works." I also give lectures on both topics; please see the column at right.

The Rape of Belgium was an alternate selection of the History Book Club and made the short list for the Tomlinson Prize, given by the Western Front Association for the best book of the year on the First World War. In October 2004, I was a featured guest at the Antwerp Book Fair to promote the Dutch-language translation. I've never felt so rewarded as an author, seeing how grateful the Belgians were that I'd recounted an episode in their nation's history that usually gets overlooked.

A little more about Potato. When the book first came out, I appeared on a dozen broadcasts with National Public Radio, including "Morning Edition" with Renee Montagne. Later, I did a stint on camera as a historical consultant for the PBS documentary about potato blight, Hot Potatoes, now being distributed nationally. I contributed the article on the potato for the recently published Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World and was interviewed by The History Channel for a program in its "Modern Marvels" series, scheduled to air in November 2008. The Potato has been translated into six languages, most recently German.

Published in Britain under the title The Potato: How It Changed History (Macmillan, 1999; Pan, 2000), the book won the André Simon Special Commendation Award, given annually to a book about food. That was a great honor, not least because previous winners of the Andre Simon Award include Claudia Roden, whose book of Jewish cooking from around the world has a special place in my kitchen. But I also smile whenever I think of a radio interview with a station in county Clare, Ireland, when the interviewer, whose accent was pure poetry, said, "Now, about those spuds, Larry--give us the real scoop."

Recently, I've turned to book reviewing in my new blog, different from the one on this site. I invite you to visit at Novelhistorian.

I live in Seattle with my wife and younger son.





Lectures

"This Poisoned Atmosphere": Belgium Under German Occupation, 1914-15, September 23, 2004, Liberty Memorial Museum, Kansas City, MO

"The Evil Influence of the Lazy Root": Social History Through the Potato's Eyes, November 2-3, 2005, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin, TX, and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas in Fort Worth

"Random Caretakers of an Orphan: Or, How Not to Repeat History," keynote address, Seventh World Potato Congress, 23 March 2009, Christchurch, New Zealand

Books
The potato: a labor-saver, a fast food, a budget stretcher, a loan bank, a delicacy, a hedge against famine--and a crucial ingredient in the social changes that swept through Europe and the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
In August 1914, the German Army invaded neutral Belgium and burned scores of towns and villages, executing about five thousand civilians. The Belgians cried murder; the Germans insisted that the civilians had fired on them. But the controversy, fanned by propaganda on both sides, obscured a greater crime, the military occupation of Belgium over the next four years, which presaged Nazi Europe.
Magazine Article
A visit to Hebron, where seven hundred soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces keep an uneasy peace.