In the aftermath of yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, a history publication posed provocative questions to me.  These are my responses:  What is your view of what happened at the Capitol yesterday? Was this an attempted coup d’etat, or peaceful demonstration gone wrong? Neither.  The attack on the Capitol was not a true coup…

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Sure, the times are weird in CovidWorld, but we’re all making the best of it.  One of those make-the-best-of-it structures is the virtual author talk.  I’ve done a few virtual author events so far, and attended quite a few more, and have some thoughts about them.  I won’t talk about choice of digital platform, since…

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The recent news of positive COVID-19 tests for a valet for President Trump and an aide to Vice President Pence revive a thorny question:  What happens if the president gets sick?  As shown by the corona-related illness of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the virus can incapacitate those in high office.  What happens if we…

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Back in April, I wrote two short pieces on history topics of interest to me — impeachment trials and George Washington.  So, naturally enough, they both launched on the web this weekend, within 24 hours of each other.  So I might as well promote them together, right?  You can check out: My take that historians…

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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,”…

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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…

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More echoes of the benighted Andrew Johnson Administration of 1865-69 reverberate around President Trump with the current logjam at the top of the Consumer Financial Protection Board.  Deputy Director Leandra English asserts the statutory right to direct the agency following the resignation of its director; claiming to act under a different law, President Trump has…

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Wrapping up my blog tour for my historical mystery, The Babe Ruth Deception, I want to honor ten mystery/thriller writers who made me want to write that type of book.  The list reflects my tastes, freely acknowledged here: Not a lot of gore or mass violence.  They’re distractions. Smart, polished writing. Close, loving attention to the people in the…

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Writing about familiar historical figures is a central challenge of writing historical fiction, and also a great joy.  The writer, of course, has to replicate any widely-known qualities about the character.  Abraham Lincoln, for example, has to be tall.  Ulysses Grant really should chain-smoke cigars. But the novelist needs to tell us more, to lead…

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Our digitized world is obsessed with branding.  The road to success, we’re told, is to create a public image of a consistent experience/product/person that people will want to acquire or be exposed to. That’s why the trade association for accountants published “Five Tips to Branding Yourself” (how, in fact, do accountants brand themselves?).  It’s why Success Magazine…

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