News and information from Steve’s author and writing life, including what readers are saying about Steve’s books
News and Information | What Readers Are Saying

News and Information

Voyage of Mercy paperback edition now available!

This is really great news and I owe it to your support. Despite shutdowns and closed bookstores for several months after Voyage debuted last March, sales have been robust, and St. Martin’s Press has decided to publish a paperback version of the book.

This is always great news for an author — hardcovers have a shelf life for a year or so (usually less in bookstores), and paperbacks generally ensure that the book will stay on sale (online and in stores) for a long time.

The cover mock-up is shown here. As you can see, it’s basically the same as the hardcover, but also includes a blurb from the great Wall Street Journal review that was published earlier this year.


The cover blurb reads: “A tribute to the better angels of America’s nature…well-researched and splendidly written.”

I was thrilled about this news and — once again — offer my thanks to readers who made it possible!

New Review of The Boston Italians

IAHF Newsletter MastheadI’m grateful to Linda Binkley of the Italian American Heritage Foundation (IAHF) for her great review of The Boston Italians. The organization is based in San Jose, CA, and the review appears in IAHF’s August newsletter. The Boston Italians was first published in 2007, so I’m thrilled the book is still popular and continues to interest readers and reviewers.

Middle School Engineering Curriculum Developed Using “Dark Tide”TEEMS

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!


Christopher Award

Christopher Award

I’m very honored that “Voyage of Mercy” has won a 2020 Christopher Award.

These awards, issued by the nonprofit, The Christophers, celebrate writers, producers, directors, authors, and illustrators whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit” and reflects The Christophers’ guidance, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” Read the full press release here.





VOM Braille

Xavier Society for the Blind transcribes Voyage of Mercy into braille

Voyage of Mercy has been transcribed into braille and is available in the Xavier Society for the Blind library. Since 1900, Xavier Society for the Blind has been providing free braille and audio books to blind and visually impaired people worldwide in order for them to learn about, develop, and practice their faith. Connect with XSB on Facebook or click here to access their complete catalog of free items.

Due to Enemy Action now available for print-on-demand in hardcover or paperback!

DTEA coverI’m thrilled to announce that my book, Due to Enemy Action: The True World War II Story of the USS Eagle 56, first published in 2005 and converted in 2012 to “e-book only” status, is back in book form! Readers can now order DTEA in hardcover ($27) or paperback ($17) form from Untreed Reads, the ebook publisher who will also continue to make it available in electronic form. You can order your copy in any format here.

Due to Enemy Action tells for the first time a World War II story that spans generations and straddles two centuries, a story that begins with the dramatic Battle of the Atlantic in the 1940s and doesn’t conclude until an emotional Purple Heart ceremony changes naval history in 2002. I was always a bit regretful when we made the decision almost a decade ago to convert this great story to an ebook only, so naturally I’m excited that it’s returning in all forms. Whether you like hardcovers, paperbacks, or ebooks, Due to Enemy Action is the book for you!


VOM audiobookVoyage of Mercy audiobook narrator wins prestigious industry award!

I’m really thrilled for Sean Patrick Hopkins, narrator of the audiobook version of my Voyage of Mercy, who was the recipient of the prestigious “AudioFile Earphones Award” for his reading of Voyage. In its review, AudioFile Magazine said of Sean’s narrative style: “He makes this story of America’s first significant overseas aid effort and the two people most responsible — a sea captain and a Catholic priest — come alive.” I completely agree with AudioFile’s review — Sean’s reading was compelling and brilliant. Congratulations Sean!

New York Post Chooses Voyage of Mercy as one of “The 15 best books to read in our age of social isolation”

I was honored that Voyage of Mercy was selected by the New York Post as one of “the 15 best books to read in our age of social isolation.” The Post picked only two nonfiction books, “chosen because they celebrate the best that humanity is capable of.” The Post said of Voyage: “Thousands of ships left Ireland during the Potato Famine in the 1840s, packed with poor and starving crowds fleeing their homeland for the promise of the United States. One ship, the USS Jamestown, headed from Boston in the other direction, loaded with food for the Irish. It was the first humanitarian mission by the United States — prior to it, the idea of nations helping each other was not considered — and it set the precedent for many more such efforts to come. A moving historic tribute.

Milton Reads 2020My thanks to the Town of Milton, Massachusetts for selecting (and promoting) Voyage of Mercy as its community-wide read

In case you missed it, the Town of Milton, Mass., selected Voyage of Mercy as its community-wide read for 2020, the year the book was published. I participated in a great virtual event co-sponsored by the Milton Public Library and the Robert Bennet Forbes House Museum (Forbes was the captain of the USS Jamestown on its historic relief voyage to Ireland). The town has also held a number of other virtual events by experts in various aspects of this story.

It was also great to see the marquee-size banner highlighting Voyage and the “Milton Reads” program outside the Robert Bennet Forbes House Museum!

Thanks to Titcomb’s Bookstore on Cape Cod for selecting Voyage of Mercy as a staff favorite!

TitcombsOne of the nicest independent bookstores anywhere is Titcomb’s Bookshop in East Sandwich (Rte 6A) on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The staff knows and loves books, which is why I’m honored that proprietor Vicky Titcomb selected my Voyage of Mercy as one of her “favorites.”

Here I am with Vicky after a visit during the summer; we’re standing near the landmark “colonial man” statue that stands in front of the store.

Titcomb’s epitomizes all that is great about local bookshops. I’ve spent hours browsing there, and the staff is among the most helpful you’ll meet. Thanks to Vicky, the team, and Titcomb’s, and I hope you’ll drop in the next time you’re on Cape Cod!

Boston ItaliansMy master’s thesis — the foundation for The Boston Italians — is now number one in total downloads in UMass-Boston History Department

I was deeply honored to find out that my master’s thesis, From Italy to Boston’s North End: Italian Immigration and Settlement, 1890-1910 (UMass-Boston 1994) has become the number one “downloaded” thesis ever in the UMass-Boston History Department.

Since the digitized thesis program was implemented in 2013, my thesis — which formed the foundation for my book The Boston Italians — has been downloaded (as of March 2021) more than 18,500 times from people in 118 countries, and every continent except Antarctica.

My thanks to you for your interest in my work and for making The Boston Italians a success!

Bill of Rights Institute now includes my overall summary, lesson plan for The Caning and its effects on the Civil War

One of the things that I’ve missed the most during the pandemic is the opportunity to go into schools and share the stories of history with students from elementary school all the way through college. I can’t wait do resume these appearances.

In the meantime, I’m excited that the Virginia-based Bill of Rights Institute has now posted my summary article and student lesson plan on Charles Sumner and Preston Brooks, based on my book, The Caning: The Assault That Drove America to Civil War. The lesson includes the outline of the event, review questions, AP practice questions, and primary and secondary sources.

If you or a student you know is interested in this era, or specifically on this dramatic event that put the country irrevocably on the path to Civil War, I urge you to check it out and let me know what you think!

Historical Novel Society calls American Treasures “narrative nonfiction at its best”

Those of you who have heard me speak know that authors of history should consider it a great compliment when someone says a nonfiction book “reads like a novel.” With all of its natural drama, history should always be written in a compelling and entertaining way.

It’s why I was grateful to the Historical Novel Society (founded in the UK and now international) for its review of my book American Treasures: The Secret Efforts to Save the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address. The HNS generally — as you can infer from its name — focuses on historical fiction. But sometimes they review nonfiction when the story captivates them.

Of American Treasures, reviewer Jennifer Bort Yacovissi wrote, “an example of narrative non-fiction at its best: thorough research underpins an engaging — even gripping — story that captures the reader, who races along to discover what happens next…”

My thanks to Jennifer and the HNS for a review that encapsulates my writing philosophy!

What Readers Are Saying

What Readers Are Saying About Steve’s Books


Excerpted (with permission) from correspondence sent to spuleo@aol.com:

Peter Cokkinias

I’m looking forward to Voyage of Mercy and getting your autographed copy. Your books have been quite inspiring and opened my eyes to part of history which I find stunning and important! Your research is always critical and so very well done!

Dan Trame

On behalf of our Gifted and Talented Program at Walton Verona High School in Walton, Ky, we can’t thank Stephen Puleo enough for his efforts, knowledge, and commitment to teaching our students about the Great Molasses Flood of 1919. Stephen’s presentation and tour of the North Side of Boston as well as the events surrounding the Molasses Tragedy was insightful, interesting, and impeccable. Our students were enlightened by their experience and time spent with Stephen who also organized our lunch and a remarkable tour of the USS Constitution. We were extremely fortunate to be affiliated with Stephen and thank him for this amazing educational experience!!!

Roger Hagopian

Voyage of Mercy touched me deeply as the son of a survivor of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923. I connected with the plight of the Irish as if they were my own.

My father and his family were refugees from the city of Van in Ottoman Turkey and had fled along with hundreds of thousands of Armenians toward Russia and Persia. The American Committee for Relief in the Near East (NER) was formed 6 months into the genocide and set up tent cities, orphanages, and hospitals at the destinations of these hordes of evacuees and deportees. This is yet another example of America at its finest.

My paternal grandfather eventually worked in food distribution and my grandmother, as second in charge at a large orphanage in the capital of Yerevan, Armenia, then part of the Russian Empire. So they were rescued by and later worked for the NER.

Thank you for your meticulous research on an America that has had many moments of glory, but none shine brighter than those which have lifted up so many downtrodden peoples throughout the world.

Sean Polreis

I have been a huge fan of Boston since I was a little child & have remained so my entire life.  It is what led me to find your book A City So Grand.  I found it unbelievably insightful & engaging.  I immediately fell in love with your work.  I then read Dark Tide & was similarly affected.  I just finished The Caning & have been blown away a third time.  Although I am extremely sorry to have discovered you a bit late in my life, I am thrilled that I still have books to look forward to.  Next up will be The Boston Italians or Voyage of Mercy.

Part of this email is simply to express my most sincere thanks & admiration.  I have found no other author who has the touch you have with this type of historical writing. It has been a real thrill to have discovered you.

Jason Young

I wanted to tell you I just discovered Dark Tide last week and finished reading it last evening. Such an enthralling read about an amazingly surreal event that I discovered via a random post on Instagram. Thank you for all the obvious hard work you put into researching the subject. The book is packed with facts yet retains such a breeziness of reading that I couldn’t put it down (aside from when I needed to work, sleep, or entertain my two-year old). Looking forward to seeking out more of your work.


Selected Amazon reviews on “Voyage of Mercy”

Janet C.

5.0 out of 5 stars Great story of American compassion during the Irish potato famine.
Great book! I didn’t know anything about the potato famine of Ireland and how Americans stepped up to rescue them from starvation.

Jon Fadiman

4.0 out of 5 stars Most Informative. Well written.
A very interesting exposition about a subject that many of us Americans know very little about. I learned a great deal, and the writing is so vivid that the reader becomes engrossed in the presentation of the entire history. Sometimes, I felt that I was being told more than I wanted to know, and the author was perhaps too intent on simply getting down everything that he had researched on every aspect of his subject. Overall, an excellent book.


5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, educational, and inspirational
Amazing book! The author did an incredible job of researching the facts and putting all of the information together in a captivating way. I learned much about Irish history and about the assistance America gave to Ireland during a horrific time in Irish history. I highly recommend this book.

Kindle Customer

4.0 out of 5 stars interesting.
Brought to light how devastating the famine was.

Riley Bowers

5.0 out of 5 stars A Generous and Powerfully Told Story
In telling the story of two bold men and a landmark relief mission at the height of the Irish potato famine, Stephen Puleo delivers another one of those stories we’re better off knowing. His curiosity is exhaustive. His instincts are sound. The language is vigorous and generous. You’d be hard-pressed to find greater value in the hours spent reading this one.

Amazon Customer

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, detailed historical account.
The Irish potato famine did a lot to change our American culture, both short and long term. Too many of us, while we “know about it”, cannot fully realize its impact or the people involved in dealing with it. This book relates that, with great detail. As one who does not have Irish ancestry, I have gained enormous knowledge and understanding.


5.0 out of 5 stars Another event brought to life by a great author
I love the way this author can bring history to life. The extensive research he does on the people involved makes you appreciate the importance of every event he discusses. This is the way history should be taught!
I’ve read Voyage of Mercy and Dark Tide. What Ive learned about the events, the people and how these stories shaped our lives today and what we need to continue to learn from the events has been enlightening. I have two more books ordered.