WWI: Who was the enemy?
As the World War I centennial continues to gear up, and as I slouch to the end of my novel on the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, I have stumbled upon the most remarkable French memoir of the war — Poilu. (Thanks to Andy Dayton for recommending it.) Louis Barthas was a barrelmaker in the…Read More
The Booth Conspiracy hits CSPAN 3 on Sunday night, December 15
My talk about the John Wilkes Booth Conspiracy to the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond will be aired on CSPAN 3 this weekend at 9 p.m. on Sunday, December 15, and then again at midnight. It was a great turnout and a terrific audience. I have learned that Virginians pay attention to history. The title…Read More
E-Books and Libraries: Not So Fast!
The Montgomery County Council, which presides over my home jurisdiction and which includes my favorite person (my wife Nancy), is considering a resolution demanding that various state and federal government organs act immediately to ensure that the county’s library users have access to e-books in a “reasonable and non-discriminatory manner.” The only problem with this…Read More
They Don't Get It: "Enemy Combatant" = Terrorist Win
With the oh-so-welcome arrest of apparent terrorist bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev, and the killing of his brother/accomplice, some Republican senators are perversely urging a policy that would award the terrorists their greatest possible victory. They urge that Tsarnaev be declared an “enemy combatant” in order to allow the use of summary legal procedures against him, and…Read More
The horror. The horror.
Sometimes I admire a book of history but am pleased I didn’t have to write it. Either it seems like a too-long project, or involves difficult research efforts, or requires spending psychic time with unattractive historical figures and situations. All of those emotions arose as I recently read Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, a harrowing depiction of the…Read More
The Brookeville White House
Just off Route 97 in Brookeville, Maryland, stands an 18th Century home, lovingly restored by Sandy and Duane Heiler, that served as America’s capital for about 18 hours in late August 1814. Invading Maryland from ships in the Chesapeake Bay, British troops routed the Maryland militia in the somewhat embarrassing Battle of Bladensburg, then put…Read More
Colonel Burr Onstage!
On Sunday, mi enamorata and I made a madcap day-trip to New York to view some one-act plays at the Founders’ Festival at the Metropolitan Playhouse on the Lower East Side. The Festival features eight plays in repertory through this Sunday, all about some aspect of the nation’s Founding era. Though we managed to see three…Read More
One Billion New Readers?
Fun day today — I received two copies of the Chinese translation of The Summer of 1787! The one sobering thought is that, of course, I can hardly check on the quality of the translation. The thought comes to mind because I have been told that the Arabic version of the book is one of…Read More
James Madison on War
James Madison, a good deal of the time, wrote with terrific insight. In a 1795 pamphlet, he summarized his thinking about the impact of war on a democratic society. Remember that he had been a boy through the French and Indian War (ended when he was 12) and a young political official and congressional delegate through eight…Read More
The Lincoln Deception!
That’s the title — just agreed to by all interested parties — for my novel about the John Wilkes Booth conspiracy! It will be released by Kensington Publishing next September. It’s an historical mystery that explores the secrets behind the John Wilkes Booth Conspiracy. Watch for it next September: The Lincoln Deception. I like it.Read More