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#WomensHistoryMonth ProFile Friday

Roberta Strauss Feuerlicht (November 23, 1931 -October 4, 1991) was an acclaimed historian and the Editor-in-Chief of Classics Illustrated.

Roberta Strauss Feuerlicht was born in New York City to Isaac and Lena (Wesler) Strauss, Jewish socialists of Eastern European extraction. She received a B.A. from Hunter College in 1952. After a stint as an editor for the Glen Oaks News (1952-1953), she went to work as an assistant editor at Gilberton, the publishers of Classics Illustrated, where she worked until 1961. By the end of her tenure, she was made Editor-in-Chief and created spin-off titles like Classics Illustrated Junior and non-fiction comics like The World Around Us.  She married Herbert Alan Feuerlicht, a sculptor, in 1958.

After leaving Gilberton, she worked briefly as an editor for This Month magazine (1961-1962) in New York before becoming a freelance writer. In 1963 she published her first historical work, Andrews’ Raiders. In 1965 she began a series of pamphlets on revolutions and biographies. This resulted in a number of books: Oliver Wendell HolmesGandhiMadame Curie (all 1965), Theodore Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1966). The series led to several more books by commercial publishers such as The Desperate Act (1968), A Free People (1969), Henry VIII (1970), In Search of Peace (1971), America’s Reign of Terror (1971), Zhivko of Yugoslavia (1971), and Joe McCarthy and McCarthyism (1972).

In 1977 she wrote Justice Crucified, a history of the trial and executions of Nicolas Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, which was praised by The New York Times as “the most comprehensive and persuasive account of the case we have.”

In 1983, she published The Fate of the Jews, a book that was critical of Zionism and Israeli aggression, which “argues that Jewish ethics and Israeli power are incompatible; that Jewish obligations to love thy neighbor, do justice and love mercy, oppress not the stranger, are being obliterated by Israel; and that the Israelis are surviving, but not as Jews.” The book was surrounded in controversy, and despite a glowing review from Publisher’s Weekly, her publisher did not take out any ads for the book and many bookstores refused to carry or reorder it.

Feuerlicht died on October 4, 1991, of congestive heart failure. She had one son named Ira.

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