Highlights

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

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!

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

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! 

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 enjoyed some wonderful Voyage of Mercy speaking events

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

Antietam

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 — passes 21,000-download milestone!

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 21,000 times from people in more than 123 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 123 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 1,500 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!

Recap of some Voyage of Mercy events

It was a busy fall and early winter speaking season, with great turnouts at a number of Voyage of Mercy events. 

Among them:

— More than 60 Franklin, MA residents who turned out on a Sunday afternoon (opposite a Patriots game, no less). I’m shown in the photo (with the pumpkins on the front stoop) with Mary Olsson, chairperson of the Franklin Historical Commission, who organized the wonderful event.

— More than 70 people turned out at the Weymouth, MA Tufts Library, sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UMass-Boston. I’ve worked with OLLI numerous times in my career, and it is a fantastic organization that offers worthwhile programs in many subject areas. This event was particularly special because it took place in my hometown, at our brand new library!

— I was grateful to the more than 50 people who attended my Voyage of Mercy presentation, also on a Sunday afternoon, at The James Library & Center for the Arts in Norwell, MA. What an energetic and engaged group! I was honored by the unexpected presence of Professor Catherine Shannon (shown in a photo with me), history professor emeritus at Westfield State College, and a true expert on the Irish famine. Catherine wrote an outstanding review on Voyage last year that helped the book’s momentum. I’m also shown in a photo with Totsie McGonagle (center) of Buttonwood Books in Cohasset, MA, who handled the book sale; and Tracey Kelly of The James, who organized and managed the event.

— And a big thank you to the more than 70 residents of Great Island at Pine Hills in Plymouth, MA for a terrific event on a Friday evening in January. I’ve spoken to this group on several of my books, and they asked their usual perceptive, lively, and insightful questions.

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.

VOMPaperback

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.

 

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!

 

Voyage of Mercy audiobook narrator wins prestigious industry award!

VOM audiobookI’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!

What Readers Are Saying

What Readers Are Saying About Steve’s Books

 

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

Jo Ellen Chatham

I have enjoyed reading American Treasures for the second time and have recommended it to many friends. I believe stories are the most effective way of teaching American history and… capture peoples’ attention. Hopefully, they drive readers to want to learn more. Your book is filled with nuggets of history that do stimulate further interest…so thank you! 

Gavan Doane

I live in the very small town of Pekin, Indiana, and have lived here my entire life. I am 21 years old and will be starting my junior year of college this fall, studying Health Sciences. I have always had an interest in history, particularly the early history of America. Recently I purchased your book, American Treasures. This is the first of your works which I have read and I assure you it will not be the last. The task in saving and preserving America’s founding documents is not only captivating, but reminds me I live in a country based on liberty and “imperishable principles. (One of my favorite quotes thus far). I can say that reading American Treasures around July 4th is nothing short of interesting and has provided me with new and intriguing information. As I stated above, this will not be the last of your books I will read. Your work is amazing!

Laura Duffy

I recently finished your outstanding book, A City So Grand… First, thank you for approaching your subject—Boston from 1850 to 1900—in such a coherent, readable way. I’m a history-hound and native of Jamaica Plain. I thought I knew Boston’s history better than the average person; you sure straightened me out…The way you chose to end A City So Grand, with Edward Everett Hall speaking and praying in front of the state house on the evening of December 31, 1899, followed by the ringing of bells, caused me to break down. We have lost so much—in a way, our souls—since that time. We can’t go backwards, but as Alexis de Tocqueville said: “When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.”

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.

Tom Levis

My wife and I recently had the very great pleasure of reading your magnificent Voyage of Mercy. Despite the fact that both of our families emigrated from Ireland we knew nothing of this story…We plan to give copies of your book to our family and friends with the following inscription:  ‘We live in a period of great hate, madness and violence! To read Stephen Puleo’s Voyage of Mercy is to happily learn that America was better than this and can again be better than this.  We can also gain a great insight to the struggles of our Irish ancestors whose shoulders we stand upon.’  [We] look forward to reading your other books.”

 

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.

RF

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.

Karen

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.