Author & Speaker

U.S. History

Babe Ruth: Know your enemy!

Babe Ruth was a great pitcher before he was a great hitter.  Doesn’t it seem likely that one of the reasons he was a great hitter was because he had been a great pitcher? Playing for the Boston Red Sox from 1915 to 1918, the Babe was probably the best left-handed pitcher in the American League.  He…

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Why Do Babe Ruth Movies Mostly Suck?

With less than three weeks to go until my novel concerning Babe Ruth debuts, The Babe Ruth Deception, I find myself wondering why Babe Ruth movies are so bad.  In fairness, though, not all of them are terrible, at least not when he wasn’t the focus of the film. He played himself in The Pride…

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BabeWatch: Barnstorming Against Negro League Teams

Partly because he loved to play baseball, partly because he loved to spend money, Babe Ruth played lots of exhibition games in the offseason across the country and in the Caribbean.  After his astonishing 1921 season, the formed the Babe Ruth All Stars, which played against multiple Negro League teams, including the Kansas City Monarchs and…

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Hamilton’s Pulitzer Prize: Listen to the Words

Now that he’s won the Pulitzer Prize for it, maybe we’ll pay attention to the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, the genre-smashing Broadway hit that costs a monthly car payment to attend.  When we listen to the words – really listen – we can appreciate his achievement. Magic can happen when story and words and…

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Putting on the Show: Eight Rules for Book Talks

One of the surprising parts of writing books, for me, has been the amount of performance involved — I mean performance:  standing up and putting on a show. My experience is, of course, framed by the kind of writer I’ve become.  I’m “midlist,” which is a term that describes all the writers who fall between…

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Triumph of the Book!

The recent press accounts have been heartening to devotees of the book — which had been disdained as the “printed book” or “hard-copy book,” or even the “dead tree book.”  It turns out that lots of readers prefer reading old-fashioned books to new-fangled e-readers. That’s what college students say.  They want to read a “real”…

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Eight Knockout Reads from 2015

Year’s end brings a geyser of lists of the year’s “best books.”  I choose to modify this approach to report the best books that I read over the last year, since I get to few newly-issued books — pretty much only ones by friends or ones I’m writing a review of.  Otherwise, I’m either reading something…

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Even Woodrow Wilson? The "Purge Moment" Runs Amok

Over the summer of 2015, the argument over displaying the Confederate flag in public grounds galvanized public opinion.  Many conservative Southern Republicans agreed that such displays contradict our basic principles and publicly endorse bigotry.  Even South Carolina, birthplace of secession, relented on the Confederate flag. That argument swiftly metastasized into a full-throated uproar over public…

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Harper Lee, Misogynist

After all the fuss about the release of Harper Lee’s second/first novel, Go Set A Watchman, I broke down and read it.  My wife, after all, had purchased the book, so I was just maximizing the value of the family purchase. As I neared the novel’s end, my thoughts were in line with a number of…

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The Enduring Lure of Richard Nixon

Coming up to the 41st anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation from the Presidency (August 9), we find that he’s still part of our national culture, like a barnacle that simply won’t be scraped off. He was the heavy in the the first presidential election I remember — the jowly, borderline-scary guy who opposed the cool,…

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