Author & Speaker

Posts Tagged ‘American history’

Does Going There Matter?

Multi-prize-winning author T.J. Stiles (Custer’s Trials, The First Tycoon) recently posed this question on social media.  “Do historians have to visit the sites in their books?” he asked.  “I say no, no more than you have to have been alive in the times you write about.”  Stiles contended that what is important is “personal experience,”…

Read More

Misspelling: An American Tradition

Occasionally I despair over rampant, often intentional misspellings in the modern world.  Doesn’t anyone, I rant inwardly, proofread any more? Was H&M being droll when it misspelled “genius” in the t-shirt on the left?  I don’t think so.  Perhaps that’s the correct spelling in Swedish. And in the billboard on the right, the Miller Brewing…

Read More

Why F. Scott?

This morning brings the inaugural installment of a monthly piece I’ll be writing for the Washington Independent Review of Books.  The subjects will be what I’m reading, writing, or thinking about.  This morning’s effort puzzles over the bafflingly inflated reputation of F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I don’t get it. . . .

Read More

"The Lincoln Deception": One step closer!

I just received a few “advanced reader copies” (i.e., copies for reviewers) of my forthcoming novel, The Lincoln Deception.  It’s a great pleasure to see them, though the book doesn’t go on sale until August 27.  You can reserve a copy by pre-0rder from Amazon. I dedicated this one — a historical mystery that tries to unravel the secrets of the…

Read More

Burr's Corsets . . .

Aaron Burr’s devotion to the charms of the fair sex is the apparent justification for a new exhibition at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Upper Manhattan, where Burr lived for a few months during his short-lived second marriage at age 77.  The show is titled “The Loves of Aaron Burr:  Portraits in Corsetry and Binding.” I did…

Read More

Aaron Burr at 255: Still Ticking People Off

Repeatedly over the last several months, Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota has blamed Aaron Burr for her lurch to the Far Right.  Her epiphany came during her college years in the 1970s, when she read of Burr’s jaundiced view of the true character of the men who founded the country. “He was going after our founders,” she said…

Read More

American Emperor: October 4!

We now have a schedule and a cover!  Simon & Schuster will release my new book on October 4:  American Emperor:  Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America.  The book explores the story of Burr’s audacious “Western conspiracy,” which involved an invasion of Mexico and Florida, or an insurrection in New Orleans, or the secession of the Western…

Read More

Violence and Andrew Jackson

I have posted at Huffington Post a quick overview of the longstanding tradition of violence among our political leaders.  Indeed, our leaders have included some bloody and short-tempered folks, from Burton Gwinnett in 1777 to Strom Thurmond in 1964. I decided to leave out our most violent national leader, Andrew Jackson.  Sure, Jackson did kill a man in a duel, Charles…

Read More

New Perspectives on New Orleans and Jefferson

I treasure books that help me look at familiar things in a new way, and have just finished two that do that:  Ned Sublette’s The World the Made New Orleans, and Roger Kennedy’s Mr. Jefferson’s Lost Cause.  Though neither book is quite new, they were new to me. Sublette is one of those appalling people…

Read More

No Way to Treat a Judge

The current impeachment of Judge G. Thomas Porteous of New Orleans is reopening old wounds of mine.  My critique of the Senate process of trying impeachments by committee is up at Huffington Post.  Having been through one of these Senate trials by committee, and having closely watched another, I am convinced they shortchange everyone involved,…

Read More