Hugh Nissenson was born on March 10, 1933 in New York. He received a bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania in 1955. After college, he worked briefly as a copy boy at The Times, but found that newspaper writing was not his ambition. In the late 1950s, he spent two years in Israel working on a film about the Israeli war of independence. His first short story, The Blessing, was published in Harper's Magazine at that time. In 1961, he covered the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem for Commentary magazine. In 1968, he published Notes from the Frontier, about his time living in a kibbutz. His first novel, My Own Ground, was published in 1976. His other works include The Tree of Life, The Song of the Earth, and The Pilgrim. He died on December 13, 2013 at the age of 80.