Posts Tagged ‘Writing’
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
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
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…Read More
Judging a Book By Its Title: Forgetting The Forgotten Founder
In my experience, choosing a book title is an agonizing process. The title must perform several functions at once: It must give the reader some idea what is inside the covers, and do so (as my spiritual adviser Paul Dickson insists) at a distance of ten feet from the bookstore shelf. These days, it must…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
Amendment Fetish: The Repeal Amendment
While proclaiming undying fealty to the Constitution, the Tea Party movement and its allies are touting a hot new amendment to that otherwise perfect document, which goes by the oxymoronic name “the Repeal Amendment.” This proposed amendment would allow two-thirds of the state legislatures to repeal any law or regulation of the federal government, so long…Read More
Opportunity Knocks, Founders Style
The recession may be over! Openings available in Philadelphia for Founding Father impersonators! (Thanks to fellow blogger at Northwest History, for highlighting this howler): Founding Father Performers, Historic Philadelphia, PA December 10th, 2010 Historic Philadelphia, Inc. seeks historical interpreters to portray Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson: mid-late 20s/early 30s; at least 5’10”; Virginia accent; red hair…Read More
Aaron Burr Leaves the Senate
The Washington Post ran a piece on Saturday about how current senators ignore the deeply-felt farewell addresses of their departing colleagues. Having just completed my manuscript about Aaron Burr’s Western expedition, which will be published next fall — American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America — I was reminded of Burr’s emotional departure from the Senate in…Read More