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Reading the Wars of the Roses: The Original Game of Thrones

Posted by on Mar 6, 2015 in The Books That | Comments Off on Reading the Wars of the Roses: The Original Game of Thrones

Let us… tell sad stories of the death of Kings (Shakespeare’s Richard II, Act III, Scene 2) Take away Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons, the superhuman White Walkers, and their the zombie-like minions, and George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire has a lot in common with England’s Wars of the Roses (1455-1487), an epic event Martin himself has identified as a key historical inspiration for his fantasy saga. Both stories involve complex, multi-generational, personal, dynastic, and military conflicts for multiple thrones. The Kings of Plantagenet England were also the sovereigns of Wales, Lords of Ireland, and, though the claim was already hollow by 1455, the asserted Kings of France. Both sagas, the fictional and the historical, have delicious characters aplenty, including tragic heroes, brutal, malevolent villains, ambitious, greedy, fractious, and scheming nobles forever changing their colors, and women...

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Ten Best Histories and Biographies Read During 2014

Posted by on Jan 4, 2015 in The Books That | Comments Off on Ten Best Histories and Biographies Read During 2014

The list begins with Napoleon: A Life, the best book I read in 2014, and certainly the most impressive literary achievement among all the books listed.  Runner-up is A Misplaced Massacre, a mesmerizing example of creative non-fiction.  The final eight are listed in chronological order of subject matter, from ancient to modern. *NAPOLEON: A LIFE by Andrew Roberts: My library contains some 250 books on the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. I thought I’d read virtually everything worth knowing, but I devoured this sympathetic and yet eyes-wide-open biography. Across 800 pages, Roberts weaves the Corsican’s personal and public lives into a coherent whole, no small achievement considering the subject was a giant who towered over a continent for two decades. Roberts’ Napoleon is fresh from the get-go, as he presents the boy as voracious reader, soaking up the adventures...

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If you read only one book about Churchill

Posted by on Nov 22, 2014 in News, The Books That | Comments Off on If you read only one book about Churchill

THE CHURCHILL FACTOR by Boris Johnson (Riverhead Books, NY, 2014) Mayor of London Boris Johnson, like Churchill a journalist, historian, and rogue elephant of a Tory politician, has produced a wonderfully chatty book on Sir Winston Churchill. Not a cradle-to-grave biography, it’s instead an illuminating study of what it was that made Churchill different. Not just different from every other British politician or world statesman of the 20th century (and beyond), but the only man who could have saved democracy and its benefits for all peoples in 1940. And did. Johnson attacks his subject thematically, and with great dollops of humor.  His chapters open with an evocative scene that introduces some revealing aspect of Churchill’s character. Johnson visits the graveyard of Winston’s nanny as a way of answering a question, “Was he a nice guy.” Yes, Johnson tells us...

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My thanks to True West Magazine

Posted by on Oct 25, 2014 in News | Comments Off on My thanks to True West Magazine

I just received my copy of the December 2014 issue of True West magazine, which includes — on page 58 — an author profile of yours truly and my recommendations for five books on conflict, greed, and corruption on the Western frontier. (I had not yet finished reading Larry Ball’s TOM HORN bio and would certainly have added that!)  The piece is the result of an entertaining — I know I was thoroughly entertained — and wide-ranging 90-minute interview conducted by True West’s Senior Editor Stuart Rosebrook. I was sorry that the conversation came to its inevitable end. But a hint of the result is in True West, the new issue with the unforgettably tattooed Olive Oatman on the cover.  I’d post the cover image, but not online yet.  Anyway, again I give my thanks to Stuart, Executive Editor Bob...

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Finally! Sent book proposal off to a publisher

Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in June Robles kidnapping, News, Writing History | Comments Off on Finally! Sent book proposal off to a publisher

After five years with this project, The Mystery of the Iron Box, the story behind the 1934 ransom kidnapping of June Robles of Tucson, the book proposal is off to a university press for consideration. If all goes well, it will probably take about two years for publication, the academic hoops being what they are.  Now to turn to the next project, whatever that may be. Each presents hurdles… another 1934 kidnapping that involves copying 15,000 pages of FBI files (Yikes!)…. or a biography of New Mexico rustler king, John Kinney….. never tackled biography before, and have yet to come across much of what went on in Kinney’s mind.   Third option, trying to find a fresh take on the nemeses of Wyatt Earp, the Arizona Cow-Boys.  I’ve got an idea for that, but will it translate into a book-length...

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