Part of the Program: Lectures and Events

Book Event & Signing with Author Steven Ujifusa

6:00 pm
8:00 pm
Woodmere Art Museum


Steven Ujifusa is a Philadelphia historian who chronicles the confluence of American business, social, and maritime history. His third book, The Last Ships from Hamburg: Business, Rivalry, and the Race to Save Russia's Jews on the Eve of World War I, tells the story of the 2.5 million Eastern European Jews who came to America between 1881 and 1914.  This mass exodus was facilitated by three businessmen whose involvement in the Jewish-American narrative has been largely forgotten: Albert Ballin (managing director of the Hamburg-America Line), Jacob Schiff (investment banker and American Jewish philanthropist), and J.P. Morgan (New York financier, partner of the Drexel family, and mastermind of the International Mercantile Marine trust).  It was released by HarperCollins in November 2023.  

The Last Ships of Hamburg" has been named by Publishers Weekly as one of the top books of 2023, and by the @WSJ's as one of the17 Books to Read This Holiday Season.

Mr. Ujifusa will speak at Woodmere on Thursday, February 29 at 6:00 pm.  Books will be for sale. 



“With impeccable research, masterful prose, and deep feeling, Steven Ujifusa tells the incredible story of one of the greatest human exoduses in history, of the 1.5 million Jews who escaped Czarist Russia, and the three people who helped make that possible. He gives readers a front-row seat along the way, to the boardrooms of German shipping companies, third-class hulls of ships crossing the Atlantic, to tenements on the Lower East Side. This is a page-turning history on a grand scale, with an intimate touch.”

Steven Pressfield, bestselling author of Gates of Fire and The Lion’s Gate

“Every once in a while a great story meets the writer who was meant to tell it, and readers can rejoice. The Last Ships from Hamburg tells an epic tale, and Steven Ujifusa brings a novelist’s ear and a detective’s eye for detail. It’s a story of struggle, of survival, and of the resilience of the human spirit—the past brought to life with lessons for today.”

 Kermit Roosevelt III, author of The Nation that Never Was 

“A captivating group portrait of three 'titans' of industry who facilitated the steamship routes by which around 2 million Jewish refugees, fleeing pogroms and discrimination, immigrated from Europe to America between 1890 and 1921 . . . . Ujifusa ties this intricate business history into a broader economic and diplomatic context and relates the experiences of regular people who made the crossings, including the families who perished aboard the Titanic. This innovative account provides a complex new perspective on the turn of the 20th century.”

— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Steven Ujifusa’s thoroughly researched and well-told story is a revelation. Intimate portraits of J.P. Morgan, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and several others who figured in the great transatlantic migration culminate in the startling story of its main character, Albert Ballin -- the little-known giant (though barely five feet tall) who was responsible for bringing more immigrants to the U.S. than any other person in the nation’s history."

 Daniel Okrent, author of The Guarded Gate and Last Call

"A fascinating and thought-provoking book about one of the most consequential human migrations in world history. Not only does Ujifusa illuminate the drama and the physical and financial mechanics of the mass exodus of Jews and other immigrants from central and eastern Europe to the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but he also brilliantly shows how the rising tide of ignorant racism transformed America from a welcoming nation to one that callously turned its back on human suffering. The parallels between then and now, especially the spike in anti-semitism and fear of the 'other,' should worry everyone. It is up to all Americans to make sure we don't repeat the shameful mistakes of the past. THE LAST SHIPS FROM HAMBURG will help achieve that goal."

— Eric Jay Dolin, author of Rebels at Sea and Black Flags, Blue Waters