News and information from Steve’s author and writing life


CaningThe Caning is “Abington Reads” choice for 2024! 

Here’s an early announcement for something you’ll be hearing more about — I’m honored that the Abington (MA) Public Library has selected my book, The Caning: The Assault That Drove America to Civil War, as its “Abington Reads” choice for 2024! 

I’ll provide more details in the coming months on this community-wide reading program, but if you want to mark your calendars early, I’ll be appearing at the Abington Public Library (600 Gliniewicz Way) on March 14, 2024, at 7:00 p.m. to discuss the book. That’s a few weeks before The Great Abolitionist is published, so get ready for lots of Charles Sumner next spring. Many thanks to Abington for this honor!Abington Library Logo

A North End Walking Tour

The day was warm and muggy, but that didn’t stop the Andover MA Book Club (or me) from enjoying a tour of Boston’s historic North End this past weekend. We covered a great deal of ground; from colonial history to the American Revolution, from Irish, Jewish, and Italian immigration to – of course – the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919. My thanks to club members for reading my book, “Dark Tide,” and to my sister-in-law, Pat Doyle, for the great photos!

Book Club Collage

Thanks to Walpole (MA) for welcoming me with enthusiasm!

I wrapped up my Spring 2023 public appearances with my 660th author event – a great evening at the Walpole (MA) Public Library to discuss Voyage of Mercy. It was my fifth trip to Walpole (one of those many communities that have asked me to return) to discuss one of my books – I’m so grateful to this community for their loyalty, support, and enthusiasm. Nearly 60 people attended the event, which was sponsored by the very active Friends of the Library, and the engaged audience asked great questions. Thanks again to Walpole for welcoming me with open arms!


For a listing of my future events, click here.


After 20 years, Dark Tide is still going strong!

During its 20th anniversary year, it’s been gratifying to see Dark Tide being read and enjoyed in so many ways! It was a nice summer treat to see the book featured as a “Bookseller Favorite” at Barnes & Noble and very special when our friend let us know that the book is being featured at the President Calvin Coolidge Birthplace gift shop in Vermont (see photos below).

I can’t list all the organizations who read Dark Tide thus far this year, but my thanks to several, including: the Quail Ridge Book Store (Raleigh, NC) Saturday Morning Book Club, which read the book earlier this year; the Notre Dame Academy (Hingham, MA) AP U.S. History classes, whose students read Dark Tide for their summer reading; and summer reads by the McAuliffe Evening Book Club at the Framingham (MA) Public Library and the Brown Bag Book Club at the Weeks Public Library in Lancaster, NH. The New England Historical Society wrote an updated feature story on the molasses flood this year.

Nearly 25 communities have selected Dark Tide as their community-wide read, many high schools and colleges use the book in their curricula, and the Boston Discovery Guide lists Dark Tide as one of its “12 Fascinating Books About Boston.” They are in no particular order, but if you scroll down, you’ll see I’ve drawn “lucky number 7.”

I’m proud to say that after 20 years, Dark Tide is still the only adult nonfiction book about the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919! And there are always nuggets of news and information that crop up about Dark Tide and the molasses flood, for which I’m so grateful; like this great “Love Letter to the Beverly Public Library,” written by Beverly (MA) resident Sean Devlin to the Salem News. In it, Sean recalls the North End tour he (and more than 200 Beverly residents!) took with me when his community selected Dark Tide as its community-wide read.

My thanks to all of you who have supported Dark Tide for the last two decades – and I hope you continue to do so! I appreciate your support of all my other books as well.


Another road trip with a flair for the historic — and my May 2023 Blog that links the trip and my upcoming book!

I’ve chronicled a few road trips Kate and I have taken to see some great historic (and relaxing!) spots in our great country, and this spring was no different. We covered 12 states, venturing as far south as St. Augustine, Florida, America’s oldest town, founded in 1565. 

These photos show — in roughly “historical” chronological order — me at the beautiful St. Augustine Cathedral, and on Aviles Street, the “oldest street in America,” along with the “rough draft” of the Declaration of Independence, located at Jefferson’s Monticello just outside of Charlottesville, VA.

On to the Civil War era! We visited Columbia, S.C., the state capital, which displays all aspects of its Civil War history. The sobering “Ordinance of Secession” passed in December 1860, and a statue of Senator John C. Calhoun are located in the capitol building, and just outside is the very moving monument to the First Regiment, South Carolina Volunteers, a tribute to the first former slaves and free blacks who became members of the Union Army after plantation owners fled their homes on the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina. Massachusetts abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson commanded this first “colored regiment” in the Union Army, who fought bravely in Florida in 1863.

We also went to the haunting Petersburg National Battlefield in Virginia, which included a moving stop at nearby City Point, Virginia, where General Ulysses S. Grant had his headquarters toward the end of the war as Richmond was about to fall — President Abraham Lincoln visited City Point just days before he was assassinated. There is an important scene in my new book, The Great Abolitionist, that takes place at City Point, because Charles Sumner was part of Lincoln’s entourage there. My latest blog describes how the happenings at City Point in 1865 illustrate the way Sumner and Lincoln learned from each other — I hope you enjoy it.

Last on the history-related pictorial chronology (though it was the first stop on our road trip) was the site of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 that began in Martinsburg, West Virginia, and spread rapidly. It was the nation’s first general strike, and the first time federal troops were used in a labor dispute.

And lest you think our road trip was purely educational, we found plenty of great time to relax. Kate is shown here on beautiful St. Augustine Beach, and at our resort in Charlottesville, VA (where, in addition to visiting Monticello, we also visited the University of Virginia and had lunch with one of Kate’s former students!). Also, check out the gorgeous sunrise on spectacular St. Simons Island, Georgia (one of our favorite spots), and the remarkable Driftwood Beach on nearby Jekyll Island, just a few miles from St. Simons!

I’ve heard from many of you that you enjoy these “historical travel updates,” so I’ll continue to share them with you when appropriate. And as always, I encourage you to visit as many historical spots as you can in an effort to learn as much as possible about our history.
Road Trip Photos

Double Events in Boston’s Historic North End

Thank you to the Friends of the BPL North End Branch and the Alden Book Group. I always love being in Boston’s North End, so I was thrilled to appear there twice in one week!

First, I appeared at the North End Branch of the Boston Public Library to discuss my book, Voyage of Mercy, before an enthusiastic crowd that asked excellent questions. Then, on a chilly Saturday morning, I was honored to take the Alden Book Group of Holliston, MA on a 90-minute tour of the North End, which included a visit to the Great Boston Molasses Flood site, an event I chronicle in my book, Dark Tide. Our tour also made “stops” at the Old North Church, Copps Hill Burial Ground, St. Stephen’s Church, and North Square. In one photo, you can also see me pointing out one of the many rooftop gardens in the North End, another amazing nugget about this amazing neighborhood! 

I was pleased to learn that most book club members had read Dark Tide, The Boston Italians, and Voyage of Mercy. We finished up the tour with a delicious lunch at L’Osteria Restaurant.

Double Events in the North End

And Double Events in Everett, MA too!

I was also honored to do “double duty” in Everett, MA with two Dark Tide appearances on the same day — one at Everett High School in the afternoon, and one in the evening at the city’s Parlin Library.

You may already know how much I enjoy visiting high schools and Everett High School was no different. Some 70 Everett High U.S. history students participated in a lively discussion, asked great questions, and took part in an enjoyable book-signing afterward. I’m shown here with EHS students Byron Calixto, Mama Gassama, and Loosandie Dieujuste; and alongside David Huezo Erazo.

The library crowd made me feel very welcomed in the evening. I’m shown with the energetic Everett Community Book Club! My thanks to Mary Puleo (no relation!), Coordinator of Libraries for the Everett Public Schools; and Kathleen Slipp, Parlin’s Adult Services Coordinator, for organizing these two great events; and also to the Friends of the Parlin Library, for sponsoring the wonderful evening.

Everett photos

A Wonderful Voyage of Mercy Event in Marshfield, MA

My deepest thanks to the Town of Marshfield (MA) and the Friends of the Ventress Memorial Library for sponsoring my recent appearance to discuss my book, Voyage of Mercy.

More than 50 attendees asked excellent questions and made me feel very welcome in a community in which more than 45 percent of the population has some Irish heritage in their ancestry. And I was gratified to see that people came from other places too — for example, I’m shown here with Lily Woo, a high school teacher of AP European history at Bow High School in New Hampshire!

I’m also shown with the Friends committee who sponsored the event and organized a perfect evening, including providing wonderful refreshments! They are (from left): Mary Gina Stilwell, Colleen Timberlake, Joyce Kinsman, Lisa Lenon, Janice Brown, and Pam Patch. Thanks, Marshfield, for making my 659th appearance as an author such a terrific time! 

Marsh collage

In Walpole (MA), My Fifth Time was a Charm

I wrapped up my spring 2023 public appearances with my 660th author event – a great late-May event at the Walpole (MA) Public Library to discuss Voyage of Mercy. It was my fifth trip to Walpole to discuss one of my books – I’m so grateful to this community for their loyalty and support.

Nearly 60 people attended the event, which was sponsored by the very active Friends of the library, and the audience was enthused and asked great questions. Thanks again to Walpole for welcoming me with open arms!



GI An 80-Year Old Photo Helps Me to Reflect and Remember on Memorial Day

Memorial Day gave me time to think about why it’s so important to find a few minutes to reflect and remember. It’s the day we remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice —laying down their lives in battle for their comrades and their country.

With the accompanying photo, I take you back 80 years — to WWII in 1943. When I teach my college WWII class, I tell my students that 1943 was the “slog year” for the U.S. and its Allies, as opposed to the more “celebrated” years of 1942 (a victory at Midway that turned the tide of the war in the South Pacific), 1944 (the successful D-Day landings), and of course, 1945 (the end of the war with Allied victories in Europe and the Pacific). In contrast, 1943 was a year of hard fighting, slow progress, rationing, and an overall feeling of sadness and resignation for Americans on the home-front that they were in this war for the long haul.

In its September 1943 issue, Life magazine published this photograph of three dead Americans on a beach in New Guinea. The photo was significant because it was the first time the War Department censors allowed the printing of a photo of dead Americans — the first time Americans had seen their dead in a photo. This particular photo was chosen by editors — and allowed by censors — because the soldiers’ faces are obscured. It was a more innocent time, for sure; the thought of being protected from the sight of dead bodies today seems almost quaint.

Each time I look at this photo, it haunts me. I think of the pain Americans at home and abroad must have felt during this hard year of all-encompassing war — the sacrifices made, the lives lost, the families torn apart. There is gallantry and heroism in war, but there is horror and suffering as well. Eighty years ago — 1943 — was the most difficult year of the war for Americans.

It’s why I think, on Memorial Day, we have a solemn obligation to remember — always — those who gave their lives in battle for the ideal of freedom. The three dead American GIs in this photo are among the more than 400,000 U.S. combat deaths in World War II alone. Thousands more perished in earlier wars, and thousands more have lost their lives since.

The spirit of Memorial Day is eternal. To those who have laid down their lives in battle, we owe a sacred debt we can never repay. For those of us who reap the benefits of their sacrifice, and to each succeeding generation who will continue to reap those benefits, we have a duty to remember and reflect and give thanks. 


North End Signing at the Paul Revere House

It was a great day in Boston’s North End on December 11, 2022! Not only did the neighborhood hold its annual Christmas parade (complete with a visit from Santa), but I also signed copies of my book, Dark Tide, at the Paul Revere House as part of PRH’s Winter Book Fair! I spent a really enjoyable afternoon meeting readers and tourists who visited one of Boston’s most historic venues. I’m shown here with my friend and research assistant, Charlotte Hannan; and with fellow authors Ben Edwards (left), author of One April in Boston, and one of Boston’s most popular tour guides; and Pat Leehey, author of What Was the Name of Paul Revere’s Horse? Pat is also the co-author of The Paul Revere House Guidebook, editor of the new edition of The Bells of Paul Revere, His Sons, and Grandsons, as well as the PRH’s former research director and current consulting historian. Dave Neiman provided music on the hammered dulcimer, which added to the day’s ambiance! And, if you need a personalized gift, there are now plenty of autographed copies of Dark Tide available at the PRH gift shop. My thanks to the entire team at the Paul Revere House for the festive day!

Stephen Puleo North End Signing


Dark Tide Turns 20 Years Old in 2023!

Dark Tide

My, how time flies!

My first book, Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 turns 20 this year – which is amazing to me! The hardcover was first published in September of 2003; the paperback in 2004. 

The memorable anniversary provides me with a great opportunity to thank you for your outstanding support for all of my books, and particularly Dark Tide. I’m humbled that, after two decades, you continue to read, purchase, and talk about Dark Tide to others. Your support has inspired Dark Tide’s selection by more than 25 cities and towns (Boston and Nashua, NH among them) as their community-wide reads, for the book’s use in numerous high school and college curricula, and for the book being chosen by nearly 50 book clubs. It has been the subject of reviews, reports, and stories by, among others: The History Channel, the New Yorker, the Boston Globe, the Associated Press, the Providence Journal, all the major news networks, Publishers Weekly, Scientific American, C-Span, Lawyer’s Weekly, Engineering Week, and many other publications. 

You took a chance on an unknown author when you decided to purchase, read, and spread the word about Dark Tide – and by so doing, you helped me realize a dream. I’m forever grateful for your encouragement and support.

I continue to hear from readers across the country about the book, and from students who use Dark Tide as the definitive source for papers and projects about the molasses flood. The influence the book has had on high school and college students is among the most gratifying parts of my entire experience. 

I think you’ll enjoy the accompanying piece in “Wicked Local,” based on an interview I did in January, around the time of the flood’s anniversary (Jan. 15). I look forward to continuing my author journey with you! 

Thanks to Winthrop and Plymouth for two superb events!

In Winthrop, a discussion on Dark Tide

My thanks to the wonderful crowd who turned out in nasty weather in Winthrop MA earlier this winter for a spirited discussion of my book, Dark Tide! 

This group asked some great questions and was so welcoming to my wife Kate and me! I’m extremely grateful to the Winthrop Public Library’s Mary Lou Osborne (second from left in the large group photo of town officials and library staff) for organizing the event. Also, I’m shown here with Winthrop Town Councilor Hannah Belcher (left), and her sister, Abigail Belcher. Hannah, a longtime fan of Dark Tide, was instrumental in setting up my Winthrop visit; and it was my true honor to meet Abigail, a member of the U.S. Army medical services division, who was home in Winthrop while on leave from Germany. Thanks, Abigail, for your service — and thanks to Winthrop for a terrific evening! 

The event got the “20th anniversary year” of Dark Tide off to a good start! 

Win Collage


A Neighborhood Tour for The Ledgers Society

What an excellent time I had leading a tour of Boston’s North End this fall with The Ledgers Society, comprised of more than two dozen chief financial officers (CFOs) from the Boston area. 

It was a spectacular weather day, and we visited Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, the Old North Church, the site of the molasses flood, and several other points of interest. 

Afterward, we enjoyed a delicious meal at Ristorante Limoncello (please visit this great restaurant if you haven’t already!), where I was thrilled to sign copies of Dark Tide for “Ledger” members. My thanks to this terrific group for a wonderful event. 


Collage 1


Thanks to the Organizers of My Fall 2022 Events!

I’m grateful to the teams of people who pulled together some amazing Fall events on my behalf. I hope these photos and my summary give you some indication of how hard so many worked to make these appearances successful.

This collection of photos in this section depicts two fabulous events in the early Fall held in Wakefield MA and Nashua NH. 

I was honored to return for the seventh time for the wonderful Sweetser Lecture Series in Wakefield to discuss Voyage of Mercy — my thanks to the nearly 170 people who turned out for a spirited discussion. This series is among the best-run I have ever been associated with, and I’m always impressed with the committee’s attention to all of the important details. 

So, too, in Nashua, NH, which selected Dark Tide as its community-wide read for 2022. About 140 people attended this outstanding event, which was conducted in a conversation style by moderator Lisa Allen, who kept things moving in a smooth, professional way. My thanks to Lisa and the entire “Nashua Reads” committee, the Nashua Public Library, and Toadstool books, which handled the book sale and signing afterward. 

The Nashua committee, shown here with the huge mock-up of the Dark Tide cover, is made up of (from left): Jill Angel (treasurer), Judy Blachek (president), Lisa Allen, Susan Carey (vice president and head of the Nashua Reads committee). 

Being able to discuss my books before more than 300 readers at two great events is a real blessing! Thanks to Wakefield and Nashua!


Highlights 2


Several communities on Boston’s South Shore area went all-out to organize two excellent Voyage of Mercy Saturday events. 

First, my deepest thanks to the committee who organized, and the audience who attended, the Bridgewater area “One Book, One Community” (OBOC) reading initiative! The program covers six South Shore communities, which chose Voyage as their selection this year. The communities are Mansfield, Halifax, Plympton, Bridgewater, East Bridgewater, and West Bridgewater. It was a great day — I appreciated that most attendees had read some or all of the book! It made the event very interactive, with spirited discussion and an insightful question-and-answer session. 

Thanks to all attendees, to the Paperback Junction bookstore (Easton, MA), which handled book sales, and to the entire OBOC team that made it possible. They are shown in the group shot with me (sitting at the table), left to right: Ellen Snoeyenbos, Susan McCombe, Diane Roza, Evelyn DeLutis, Gloria Moran, Suzanne Paone (owner of Paperback Junction), Jennifer Finn, and Percy Child. 


Highlights 3


And in Whitman, I offer my thanks to the Whitman Historical Commission, the Whitman Cultural Council, the Whitman Public Library, and the great group of Whitman residents who turned out for my Voyage of Mercy presentation! 

It was a beautiful fall Saturday, and it was inspiring to spend a couple of hours with history-lovers and readers who asked great questions and were engaged throughout the event. I’m shown here with Karen Marshall, secretary of the Whitman Historical Commission. Dick Haley of Haley Booksellers (best book distributor in the business!) handled sales in his usual professional manner. 

And I really thought the outdoor sign was a nice touch! Thanks, Whitman!


Highlights 4


I also took a jaunt into central Massachusetts and the “quiet corner” of northeast Connecticut!

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Shrewsbury (MA) Public Library (SPL) to present on my book, Voyage of Mercy, as part of the library foundation’s Distinguished Lecture Series. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon — discussing history and books with an audience that asked many outstanding questions. The event was also live-streamed to audience members who couldn’t attend in person. The SPL is a beautiful facility and a real community treasure. Thank you, Shrewsbury! 




And, what better way to get ready for Thanksgiving than to visit a beautiful picture-postcard community like Woodstock, Connecticut in late November? 

This is a bucolic, peaceful community, known for its rolling farmland and pastures – and it’s also home to wonderful, enthusiastic readers who graced me with their presence at the event. We had a spirited discussion on the Irish famine and America’s remarkable response to it – and the event was made all the more symbolically significant because it led into Thanksgiving week.

My thanks to Woodstock Academy Librarian Deborah Sharpe for organizing the evening, and the welcoming Woodstock readers who braved a chilly night to attend! 


The Woodstock Academy

A memorable Fall 2022 road trip, and related blog

During Fall 2022, my wife Kate and I went on a long and wonderful driving trip — seventeen states and nearly 4,000 miles in all.

It took us along the Western spine of Virginia and North Carolina, over the haunting Blue Ridge range and the forest-covered Great Smoky Mountains, into Tennessee, across the Volunteer State from Chattanooga to Memphis, before traversing the Mississippi River into western Arkansas, and then turning northward through the beautiful Ozarks in Missouri. We then returned eastward through Southern Missouri’s long and fertile farmland region, crossed into and drove through the bluegrass and horse country of Kentucky, crossed the Alleghenies into the spectacular hills of West Virginia, then northeast to historic Harper’s Ferry, before making a stop in Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow (Tarrytown), New York, and finally home to Massachusetts.

It was an amazing trip that encompassed rich history, resplendent nature, delicious food, wonderful people, and a constant reminder that so much goes on in the center of the country that we in the northeast often take for granted specifically the extraordinary production of food and the efficient transporting of good. I write about that “Great East-West Crisscross” in my blog entry, which I think you’ll enjoy.

The photos below, and more with my blog, show just a few of the highlights of this memorable trip, a journey I’d recommend you take — in its entirety or in part — to get a real feel for our remarkable country.


Fall 2022 Trip Collage


City of Nashua, New Hampshire selects Dark Tide as its 2022 “Nashua Reads” choice!! 

I’m excited and honored to announce that the City of Nashua, NH has selected Dark Tide as its “Nashua Reads” choice for 2022! 

The city is planning a whole host of events in conjunction with this program, which will include an appearance by me at the Nashua Public Library on Sunday, October 2 at 2:00 p.m. for a discussion entitled “Beyond the Book: An Afternoon with Stephen Puleo.” If you’re a Patriots fan, as I am, you’re in for a great afternoon — the Pats are away that Sunday, playing at Green Bay against the Packers at 4:35 p.m. A book discussion and football — neither conflicting with the other — what a great way to spend a Sunday in the fall!

Nashua Logo

This link provides more information on Nashua’s choice, including a video on the selection that includes a brief welcome and thanks from me. 

By the way, the photo here shows Brian of Toadstool Bookshops, which is handling the book sale/signing at the event. See what Brian has to say about Dark Tide by visiting Toadstool’s Facebook page.


A total of 25 communities have now selected Dark Tide as their community-wide read, and next to Boston, Nashua becomes the largest! I couldn’t be more excited — many thanks to Nashua! 


Boston.comBoston.com selects Dark Tide as One of 7 best nonfiction books set in Boston; one of 46 best overall!

I was honored that Boston.com this summer selected Dark Tide as one of the 46 best books set in Boston — and one of only seven nonfiction choices! I’m most excited that these selections were voted by readers! Thanks as always for your support.

See the story and the list here.


Portland (Maine) Press Herald features Dark Tide as its “bedside table” selection

It was a nice surprise on a summer Sunday to see that the Portland (Maine) Press Herald featured Dark Tide as its “bedside table” selection (books that are on readers’ bedside tables right now).

Portland Press Herald Logo

The book was recommended by Press Herald reporters Bonnie Washuk and her husband, Rick Zaccaro. They are history lovers, and also love Boston and the North End. Dark Tide reads like disaster fiction, but it’s history…it’s a great read,” Bonnie and Rick wrote. Thanks to Bonnie and Rick, and the Press Herald, for their selection.

Glasses and books

The link to the story is here, but a caution: you may run into “paywall issues” and have trouble accessing it. There have been times I could and times I couldn’t.

And while I’m on the subject of Dark Tide, there’s a brand new plaque in Boston’s North End to mark the Molasses Flood site! 

It’s great to see that the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and Harborwalk Boston have erected a new permanent marker plaque at the molasses flood site titled, “No Escape from Gigantic Molasses Wave,” complete with photos and a really accurate description of the flood disaster. 

I was glad to have helped with the editing of the text and even more pleased to see the new plaque unveiled as part of the refurbishment of the Langone Park/Puopolo Playground on Commercial Street in the North End. You’ll see it right behind the home-plate screen at the ballfield just to the left of the bocce courts — visit the North End and check it out!


I thoroughly enjoyed my Voyage appearance on Haverhill Community TV’s “Write Now” Show!

Steve and Gail 

I had a great time talking about Voyage of Mercy with Gayle Heney, producer and host of “Write Now,” an excellent show on Haverhill Community TV, with coverage of several towns on Boston’s North Shore.

“Write Now” showcases authors who have successfully published books, with the goal of encouraging the show’s viewers to write. Gayle does a great job in the conversation-style interview format.

My interview with Gayle will air in Haverhill, MA for the entire month of October on Comcast Channel 22 on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Later, the show will air in the nearby towns of Methuen, Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence.

My thanks to Gayle and the team at Haverhill Community TV.

Last World War II Medal of Honor recipient, Hershel “Woody” Williams, has passed away

Woody at Veterans Day Parade

Since I’ve last been in touch, we’ve lost an American hero. I’d ask you to please remember Hershel “Woody” Williams of West Virginia, the last of the 473 American service members who received a Medal of Honor in WWII. Woody died just before the Fourth of July at age 98.

Woody earned his Medal of Honor for heroic action on Iwo Jima. On February 23, 1945 — the same day as the iconic flag-raising at Mount Suribachi — 21-year-old Marine corporal and flamethrower operator Williams single-handedly destroyed multiple Japanese pillboxes and other gun emplacements at great danger to himself.

He received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman at the White House in October 1945. Like so many of these “Greatest Generation” veterans, Woody went on to do generous things with his life. He served veterans and their families during a career with the VA, and also established the Woody Williams Foundation that served God Star Families.

The link will take you to the Marine Times story on Woody, and I also urge you to watch the 5-minute video in which Woody offers his “message to young Americans.”


Those of you who have followed me know that my dad was a World War II veteran, who was immensely proud of his service (as I was proud of him). These veterans hold a special place in my heart. Please take a moment to offer thanks to Woody and the other WWII vets — most have left us, and soon, they will all be gone from our midst.


I enjoyed some wonderful Voyage of Mercy speaking events in Winter/Spring 2022

It’s hard to describe how much fun I had doing speaking events during the winter/spring season for my book, Voyage of Mercy. I found every audience to be engaged, enthused, and just ready to enjoy themselves. It’s as if they (like me) couldn’t wait to get back out into the world after a couple of years of fits, starts, and uncertainty. 

Rather than identifying every photo in this section, I wanted to give you a feel for the tenor of my speaking engagements; I included so many because, collectively, they illustrate the great energy and creativity these organizations and attendees brought to the events. For more information about my upcoming events, check my Inside Info and Events pages.

I’m so blessed to have such loyal and supportive readers, and I’m amazed and honored that so many of them (and that includes many of you!) attend my events. Thank you, thank you! 

I did want to mention my thanks and gratitude to the following organizations where I was privileged to speak during the winter/spring season:

  • To the residents of North Hill in Needham, MA, and to the group’s “Community Reads” committee for selecting Voyage of Mercy as their 2022 book and sponsoring a fabulous event to which more than 140 residents turned out! 
  • To the Friends of the Georgetown (MA) Public Library and the Boxford Town Library for co-sponsoring a terrific “Voyage” event — attracting a wonderful crowd and even baking custom Voyage of Mercy cupcakes! Overall, a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning! 
  • To the team at and the Friends of the Hamilton-Wenham Regional Library (the only regional library in Massachusetts!) who invited me to host their first live event in nearly two years! An outstanding time. 
  • To the great team at the Real Estate Bar Association (REBA) of Massachusetts, who invited me back (for the third time!) to deliver the keynote luncheon event at the organization’s annual conference. REBA does everything in a first-class way — one of my favorite speaking venues! 
  • To my hometown of Burlington (MA), whose Historical Society put on a great “Voyage” event and gave me a chance to get reacquainted with some “old, familiar faces” and great readers. 
  • To the Friends of the Thomas Crane Library in Quincy, MA, and the approximately 60 people who attended my “Voyage” presentation — Quincy has always been so good to me, and this event was no different — an enthusiastic, engaged crowd who asked great questions! 
  • To the Town of Stoneham, MA, and the Stoneham Public Library for selecting “Voyage” as their community-wide read for 2022! More than 60 people attended the event, and the library will have multiple copies of Voyage available through the year! 
  • To the Hanover (MA) Phoenix Masonic Lodge and the Knights of Columbus in Pembroke (MA) for inviting me to deliver the keynote at the “Mason/Knight Night Reunion Dinner” — a combination of two great charitable and philanthropic organizations. The two groups have met annually for more than 45 years, but Covid prevented them from gathering in 2020 and 2021, so this year’s “reunion” meeting was even more special. 
  • And my final event of the speaking season — the always fabulous Hull appearance — part of the town’s Nantasket Beach Lecture Series! My heartfelt thanks to the Nantasket Beach Resort, the Hull Public Library, the Hull Lifesaving Museum, and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation — and to the 75 attendees — who together (and again) made this “Voyage” appearance a first-class event. I love Hull and Nantasket Beach, so the event is always special to me. Prior to “Voyage,” I had launched my previous four books in Hull — Covid disrupted launch plans for Voyage in 2020, but this year’s appearance was worth the wait! 

My thanks to all of these organizations, great people, and amazing readers who help and support me — the winter/spring 2022 speaking season was one of my most enjoyable ever! 

Photo Collage

Visiting Civil War battlefields is a trip worth making


In the early Spring, my wife Kate and I took a long and wonderful road trip that included visits to some of the iconic Civil War battlefields — Manassas, Fredericksburg, Antietam, and Gettysburg. 

These are hauntingly beautiful and sacred places that offer a first-hand look at American history. Just being at these sites — where you see the contours of the land, visualize the clash of armies, visit the cemeteries, and almost hear the gunfire — stirs the emotions and makes you take pause.


The serenity I felt at places with names such as Bloody Lane, the Slaughter Pen, the Burnside Bridge, and Little Round Top belies the violence and carnage that took place in the 1860s, and that contrast alone takes your breath away. 

If you haven’t visited these places, I urge you to do so — and if you have, do it again. You will not be disappointed. There are few better examples of “living history.”


A special walking tour in the North End

My 620th appearance as an author occurred in November 2021, when I led a tour through Boston’s historic (and Italian) North End. 

This wonderful event was sponsored by the Italian Youth Group at St. Leonard’s Parish in the North End (the first Italian-immigrant church in Boston, established in 1873). The Youth Group, which gathers a few times a month to promote cultural and spiritual events, was kind enough to open the tour to the entire community, which is why you see some older folks (besides me!) in the accompanying picture. 

Nearly 50 people joined the tour, and I was honored and thrilled to participate — the group was warm, welcoming, and engaged. A great event on a beautiful day.

Stoneham, MA Public Library chooses Voyage of Mercy

I couldn’t be more thrilled that the Town of Stoneham, MA Public Library selected my book, Voyage of Mercy, as its “Community Reads” choice for 2022! The library will promote the town-wide effort through local organizations, schools, and community government boards, and is planning a series of events for residents.

One of those will be my visit to the library on May 12, 2022, at 7:00 p.m., where I will acknowledge this honor and deliver a presentation on Voyage. It will be one of several great events I have planned for the spring. Keep reading or click on this Events link to follow all my upcoming appearances. 

Many thanks to Stoneham!


History channel Podcast

Enjoy this History Channel podcast on the Great Boston Molasses Flood

January 15 was the 103rd anniversary of the Great Boston Molasses Flood. To commemorate the anniversary, the History Channel replayed its 2021 podcast of the event, which I was honored to take part in, as part of its “History This Week” segment.

The podcast — which is very well done, with superb narration and sound effects — is about 18 minutes long, You can listen simply by clicking on the RSS button at this link, and scrolling down a bit (the molasses flood podcast is the fifth one down). Of course, you can also listen with whatever platforms you use for podcasts.


Boston ItaliansMy UMass-Boston master’s thesis — the foundation for The Boston Italians — exceeds 23,700 downloads

I was deeply honored to learn that my master’s thesis, From Italy to Boston’s North End: Italian Immigration and Settlement, 1890-1910 (UMass-Boston 1994) has been downloaded more than 23,700 times from people in more than 130 countries!

I received a number of comments from readers expressing interest in the thesis and updates on downloads. Well, as of now, the thesis surpassed the 21,000 download mark from 130 countries. It continues to be the number one “downloaded” thesis ever in the UMass-Boston History Department. Many of you know that the thesis provided the foundation for my book, The Boston Italians: A Story of Pride, Perseverance, and Paesani, from the Years of the Great Immigration to the Present Day, published by Beacon Press in 2007. 

While the bulk of the downloads have been from readers in the United States and Europe, every continent except Antarctica is represented. More than 1,700 institutions (universities, government agencies, libraries, etc.) are among the downloads. 

If you want to have a little fun exploring this, this link will take you to my Dashboard and you can see the countries and regions from which the thesis was downloaded. When you get to the Dashboard page, please make sure the drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner is set to “all time” — that will cover from January 3, 2013 until the present day. You can then change the view from the map to graphs by using icons at the top left. It’s all fairly intuitive and easy to use.

Have fun with this, and my thanks to you for your interest in my work and for making The Boston Italians a success! And if you’d like, feel free to access my thesis here!

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.



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 audiobooks 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!

I’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 audiobook

Voyage 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 2020

My 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!

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!