Strauss was born in Israel, but at least one of his parents was American - Strauss' father was a US diplomat with the embassy in Tel Aviv. The family moved to the States when Strauss was four, ten years before the outbreak of nuclear war in the Middle East. By this point, Strauss had already experienced the aggression of being a non-European immigrant in pre-War America; his teachers from that period gave the impression of an intelligent child who nevertheless held everyone around him in the utmost contempt. In the eyes of the US military, Strauss was the perfect candidate for its aggressive pre-war recruitment - a natural polyglot who could conceivably bypass anti-American sentiment abroad, Strauss' teenage nihilism was easily disarmed by the army's rosy picture of camaraderie. He enlisted in the US Army Special Forces shortly after graduation, but his military career provided neither the respect he anticipated, not the sense of belonging that he yearned for.
What followed was a series of difficult deployments, in which Strauss returned to the US to find that the distant, disjointed feeling persisted across continents and multiple war zones. A brief fling with a Boston woman yielded a son, Shaun, and an unconventional companionship, but the longer he spent in the theater of war, the more difficult it became to connect with regular people. Strauss was spending shore leave with the pair at the outset of the Great War, where they joined the dozen other citizens who took shelter from the bombs in Vault 111. Nobody knew that the Vaults were actually elaborate science experiments - or that Strauss would eventually awaken from cryo-storage in 2277, a full two centuries after the Great War had ended, to find his partner murdered and their infant son missing from his pod.
Intelligent and dangerous, Strauss navigates the post-apocalyptic world with surprising ease. The wasteland is fertile ground for man with no interest in making friends or keeping up pretenses, whose best talent is an ability to dole out brisk, uncompromising violence. Even his allies in the Railroad privately wonder whose side Strauss is on. It takes him a long time to realize that the cost of indifference isn't just closeness, but humanity. As he works with the Railroad to find his son, Strauss finds himself connecting with the people they've saved, forcing him to address feelings about sentiment and personhood.