Book Clubs and Schools

Book Clubs | Schools

For years, I have been grateful to book clubs, teachers, and students of all grade levels for their enormous support. Visits to schools and book clubs have accounted for well over 100 of my more than 625 total appearances – and are among my favorites.

Book Clubs

Book club members have honored me by selecting virtually every one of my books at one time or another, and I can’t say enough about how much this means to me. I’ve found that book clubs are among the most engaged, diligent, and curious readers, and it’s always a pleasure to meet with them. When I visit book clubs, it’s customary to see members with many notes about the book, and with post-it notes throughout the pages of their copies. It’s always rewarding to answer questions and enjoy conversations with book club members. Word-of-mouth is critically important in the book business, so thanks to those of you — including my many book club members! — who have recommended my books to friends and associates. I really appreciate it. Please make good use of the discussion questions you’ll see below for each of my books.

Get discussion questions for Steve’s books

Are Steve’s books on your club’s reading list? Get discussion questions here:

Download a PDF of Voyage of Mercy discussion questions
Download a PDF of American Treasures discussion questions
Download a PDF of The Caning discussion questions
Download a PDF of A City So Grand discussion questions
Download a PDF of The Boston Italians discussion questions
Download a PDF of Due To Enemy Action discussion questions
Download a PDF of Dark Tide discussion questions

I was thrilled to receive the “group selfie” from the Door2Door Book Club of Paducah, Kentucky, which selected Dark Tide as their nonfiction choice. “We were all so impressed at how you were able to take this little-known (at least to us) moment in history and beautifully interconnect it with so many other events,” the club wrote to me. This group of readers not only reads together, but they sometimes travel together. For example, after reading Faulkner, members traveled to Oxford, Mississippi for a weekend adventure. Can a road trip to Boston be far behind?


Gathered on and around the couch are members of the Erudite Book Club of Provo, Utah, who selected Dark Tide as their choice.  President Virginia Bryson offered these comments: “We all enjoyed Dark Tide and felt you did a wonderful job describing the real-life characters.  We garnered a lot of information about the state of the United States during that time. The actual molasses flood was almost secondary to the insights we gained regarding terrorism, effects of war, and socioeconomic conditions. It was a very exciting and educational discussion.” Club members enjoyed a Boston-themed meal, including Boston baked beans, cooked with molasses, and a tea party with molasses cookies dunked in beautiful china teacups. Check out the molasses cookie recipe below:

A book club dinner and molasses cookie recipe

Steve met with the book club from Donovan, Sullivan & Ryan, a financial services firm based in Westwood, Massachusetts, to discuss Dark Tide. The group toured the molasses flood site in Boston’s North End, and then enjoyed a delicious dinner at L’Osteria restaurant. Members of the club presented Steve with a bottle of wine and a molasses cookie recipe, which he is happy to share here.

Molasses Cookies
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup melted butter
4 Tbsp. molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine sugar, butter, molasses, and egg. Mix well. Combine dry ingredients and add to mixture. Mix well and drop by tablespoon on ungreased cookie sheets. Press down on cookies with glass bottom dipped in flour. Bake at 350 degrees, 10-12 minutes. Enjoy!

Also shown here (with laptops and phones, as well as copies of their books) are members of the Boston Baked Beans book club, which meets at the Fenway Community Center in Boston and discusses Boston-based authors and historical events. I was honored that the club chose Dark Tide in 2019 in honor of the 100th anniversary of the molasses flood.

So, to all book clubs, I offer my profound thanks! Please continue to reach out to me at to set up a visit for a discussion of any of my books.


It’s great to be “back to school” this Fall!

Among my more than 635 author appearances, I’d estimate that about 60 (10 percent or so) have been at schools. I always enjoy my visits to middle schools, high schools, and colleges. Students have always treated me with the utmost respect, and I find their questions to be among the most insightful I receive. An added bonus — perhaps the “double bonus” — is that I have been invited to schools to discuss my books/historical topics AND to talk about writing or to conduct writing workshops.


I’ve also worked with many teachers, either in preparation for appearances in their class, or in workshops on how best to convey historical topics to their students. For teachers who are interested in bringing me to their school for an appearance to discuss my books, or on virtually any historical topic, please contact me at

I’ve also had the opportunity to develop classroom-based curricula such as the summary article and student lesson plan I prepared for the Virginia-based Bill of Rights Institute (Charles Sumner and Preston Brooks) based on my book, The Caning: The Assault that Drove America to Civil War. Teachers can also reach out for assistance in this area.

It was so disappointing during the worst of covid to miss out on these visits, but I’m thrilled to say it’s great to be “going back to school” this fall.

My upcoming visits include:

  • Delivering the keynote address at The Roxbury Latin School for its Founder’s Day celebration on November 3. The topic will be immigration and Boston’s North End.
  • Making a return trip to Walpole High School on November 15 to discuss Dark Tide with two AP U.S. History classes
  • Making a return trip to The Woodstock Academy in Woodstock, CT on November 17 to discuss Voyage of Mercy with students, faculty, and community members.
  • Visiting Middleborough High School to meet with about 100 students as part of a Humanities department project in which they are spending an entire unit studying Dark Tide! (quite an honor for me)

Very much looking forward to heading back to school(s) this fall! Thanks to all the teachers and educators who have invited me (this year and always), and to the students who have made every visit a real pleasure.

Roxbury Latin, Walpole, Woodstock, and Malborough

Concordia University Irvine will add American Treasures to new civics education center

Concordia American Treasures

I learned a few weeks ago that Concordia University Irvine, which has created a new Center for Civics Education, will be including my book, American Treasures, on its website.

My book, and others, will be featured in a section promoting good books on American history and politics, emphasizing Founding documents and “foundational principles of American history and government.”

I’ll let you know when the newly constructed website is up and running — just wanted to give you a sneak preview for now.

Congratulations to Sahil Raut

Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 (which will be “19 years old” this fall!) is widely used by students, teachers, and school systems. 

Of my 625 author appearances (on all my books), I’d estimate that 80 or so have been in schools. I love talking history with students, and I get excited to see THEM enthusiastic about history topics and projects.

So, I was very pleased to spend time chatting with Bedford (MA) High School junior, Sahil Raut, who chose the molasses flood as his topic for a History Day competition. He used Dark Tide as a source and emailed me asking for an interview. Sahil was well-prepared, asked great questions, and was kind enough to share this photo with me. Initially, Sahil had planned to compete in the History Day competition, but his plans changed at the last minute, and instead his project was displayed in the school library, where students and parents enjoyed it.\

Middle School Engineering Curriculum Developed Using “Dark Tide”


My book, “Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919” is “18 years old” in September 2021 (hard to believe!), and those of you who are kind enough to follow me here and elsewhere know that I really enjoy when my books are used by students and school systems. I’m really proud to announce that TEEMS (Transforming Engineering Education for Middle Schoolers), a non-profit National Science Foundation-funded collaboration between Smith College and Springfield Tech Community College, has developed a curriculum on the molasses flood, and used Dark Tide as one of its key sources. TEEMS is an engineering curriculum for 6th-grade science classrooms that uses the power of story to engage students. This link will take you to a blog summary of the unit, and from there you can explore the entire curriculum with ease. My thanks to Isabel Huff, Curriculum Designer & Training Specialist, and to the entire team at TEEMS!