About the Author

Ivan Light portrait

Ivan Light

Ivan Light knew for a long time that the story of the Lusitania was a rollicking good yarn that Americans would enjoy, but for many years he did nothing about it. However, when he retired from faculty of the University of California, he began work on the long-deferred project. Take Up the Sword of Justice is the result. He brought to the task of writing a book of historical fiction an unusual bag of qualifications. In many years of researching and writing about immigration and American social history, Ivan Light had acquired a strong knowledge of American history in this period as well as a capacity to relate social history to the momentous decision to enter what contemporaries called the Great War, and what we now bitterly call World War I, the parent and cause of World War II, the Cold War, the Holocaust, the Stalin Gulag, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam, and even the Iraq War. Also, having grown up on the lower west side of Manhattan island, not far from the Lusitania’s berth, Ivan Light knew the area’s landmarks, geography, the subway system, and, more importantly, he grew up with, knew, understood, and sympathized with the people of Irish and Italian descent who lived there at mid-Century.

So much for Ivan Light’s capability, but his motivation to write owed much to his mother. She had grown up in the German/Hungarian colony of St. Louis, Missouri during the First World War, and she told sometimes humorous, sometimes indignant stories about repression and public hostility to the German Americans. For example, at age 5, she was expelled from the St. Louis Public Library for speaking German. Take Up the Sword of Justice assigns this incident to the niece of Lotte Maria Schlegel, but it was not in origin a fictional incident. Also, and more importantly, Ivan Light’s mother married a World War I veteran in 1932. They were madly in love, but he died three years later of a war-related disability at age 35. She never forgot him, or forgave Woodrow Wilson for inducing a naive young man to volunteer for “the war to end wars.” So, thanks to her, Ivan Light’s attention was focused from a young age upon the First World War, its causes, and dreadful consequences, both international and personal. In a sense, the anger, disappointment, and bitterness of that experience, now a century behind us, are still alive in his memory and heart.

Ivan Light is Professor (Em.) of Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of seven books of which five address ethnic minority and immigrant entrepreneurship. He received the “Distinguished Career Award” from International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association in 2000 in recognition of his pioneering publications dealing with immigrant and ethnic minority entrepreneurship. His Deflecting Immigration received the “best book” award form the International Migration Sector of the American Sociological Association in 2006.

He has published many articles in major social science and business journals.

Many of these are available for downloading from the UCLA Website:

Go to Ivan Light’s: Faculty Webpage