Author & Speaker

Posts Tagged ‘U.S. history’

Up Next: G. Washington, America's Master Politician

I’ve just signed with a Penguin imprint, New American Library, to write a book about The Big Guy — GWash himself, the Master of Mount Vernon, the man-myth who was indisputably the key figure in the founding of the United States and without whom, well, things would have gone very different and a whole lot…

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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…

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Blagojevich and the Founders

It’s open season on the Founders. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), who is looking at a run for president as an Extreme Right-wing choice, has already revealed that she became a conservative in reaction against the “snotty” Aaron Burr.  Upon examination, it turned out that she really was reacting against Gore Vidal’s novel, Burr, and its…

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Truth Through Fiction

I am working on a project involving late 19th-century America, so wanted to get a better feel for the thinking and diction of the period.  I remembered a claim by someone (it would be better if I remembered who) that the best way to appreciate an earlier time and place is to read a good…

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Killing bin Laden

Why am I not elated by the killing of Osama bin Laden, when so many of my neighbors and friends are? I can do the realpolitik calculation.  He initiated/inspired/caused several deadly attacks on my neighbors and friends.  Killing him will not likely end those attacks entirely, though it may  discourage his adherents and disrupt their…

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Still Looking for Alexander

I applaud those who try to bring history to life and share it with the largest possible audiences.  But it’s not an automatic pass.  You still need to tell the stories and tell them well. By those standards, Monday night’s PBS special Rediscovering Alexander Hamilton probably gets a C, mostly for good intentions, as I explicate over…

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Long Books

Right now, I am in the midst of two long and highly acclaimed long books.  I’ve been reading a print edition of Ron Chernow’s Washington, and I’ve been listening to an audio version of Annette Gordon-Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello.  Chernow’s tome has already won the American History award, and likely will pick a few more over…

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The Fascination of Aaron Burr

Scores of novelists and playwrights have explored the stories of Aaron Burr.  I was amazed to discover that his achievements and failures had appealed to such diverse writers as Eudora Welty and James Thurber, both of whom wrote short stories about him.    Yesterday, brought two more examples of Burr’s appeal to the literary imagination.  An obituary for…

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Andrew Johnson Dollar Coins!

It is a bit hard to believe, but the U.S. Mint is issuing — right now — dollar coins featuring the likeness of the 17th president, Andrew Johnson of Tennessee.  When they rolled it out in Greeneville, Tennessee (his hometown), they passed the dollars out for free to kids!  A measure of Johnson’s greatness?  Arguably.  This…

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