What Readers Are Saying

What Readers Are Saying About Steve’s Books

Word-of-mouth is critically important in the book business, so thanks to those of you –including many book club members! – who have recommended my books to friends and associates, posted reviews online, or corresponded with me by email (spuleo@aol.com) or through Facebook. I really appreciate it.

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

Phil Johnston

Stephen Puleo’s book, A City So Grand, is a wonderful history of Boston during an important period in the development of our nation and the city of Boston. It is an absorbing and fascinating story that will be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys a great history book.

One of my favorite scenes in A City So Grand, among many others, describes the anxious wait to learn whether President Lincoln would sign the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Boston had been a focal point for the abolitionist movement and Puleo describes the high tension leading up to the telegram which confirmed that Lincoln indeed had signed the Proclamation. It is a remarkable scene as Puleo describes the thousands of Bostonians with great emotion and hope that good news will arrive. Puleo writes beautifully about the nervousness of the seemingly endless wait and the great celebration when the good news arrives. Puleo makes the experience come alive and very moving for the reader and it is clear that he is both a gifted writer and a terrific historian.

Keep up your great work!

Paul McArdle

(Author’s Note: Paul McArdle, of the 1,200-member County Louth Historical Society in the village of South Louth, Ireland, weighed in on my book, Voyage of Mercy.)

Please allow me to congratulate you on a very fine book. I have probably read all Irish publications about ‘The Great Hunger-1845-50,’ so I was totally fascinated and enlightened by this incredible story! My library, although humble, holds many volumes on this horrific period of Irish history. I hereby place your book on top shelf and center!

Ward Hamilton 

I just finished reading your latest book [The Great Abolitionist] and feel compelled to write and thank you. Over the past couple of years, I’ve read Potter’s The Impending Crisis, Fehrenbacher’s Dred Scott Decision, and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, among other books from the period. In each instance, I sensed that Sumner wasn’t getting his fair share of coverage, for lack of a better way to put it.  Thank you for this book!

Susan Walsh 

I finished Voyage of Mercy this morning – terrific!  I really enjoyed it and learned a lot.  My grandfather came from Ireland in the 1920s and worked for the [Robert Bennet] Forbes family as a chauffer at the house in Milton [now the Forbes House & Museum]…I haven’t been to the museum in years, decades.  Now I need to go.  I applaud the incredible amount of research you put into your works – I read Dark Tide a couple of years ago, which was also very interesting, and I learned a lot!

George Cronin 

I just finished reading The Great Abolitionist. It was a Father’s Day gift and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Very informative and very well written.  I’ve always had a passing interest in Charles Sumner and your book was the perfect opportunity to explore more of the history associated with his legacy. I learned a lot… Also enjoyed reading your recent email blast update and very impressed with all that you are doing…Keep up the good work! 

Joan Haviland

You have written a “page-tuner” in DARK TIDE. The narrative flows so smoothly.  The research is impressive.  The description of the streets, maps, places etc. was vivid. I could easily picture your descriptions of the movements of traffic and people surrounding the site of the flood.  It surely was a horrifying experience to live through –  a nightmare.

I applaud your weaving into the history the personal stories of the lives of those affected by and involved in that tragedy, and following through with details of what happened to them afterwards.  The level of detail and painstaking research shows throughout the story.  Congratulations to you on a very fine piece of Boston history.

Mark Robert Schneider 

Congratulations on The Great Abolitionist. The book is thorough yet concise, a pleasure to read and makes a strong case for the centrality of Sumner in the antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods. You also offer a richly nuanced description of Sumner’s difficult personality and unhappy private life. I didn’t even know about his brief and miserable marriage. Most importantly, your book will reach a wide audience among general readers and fellow historians.

I could not put it down. Well done!

I also want to include that you are a terrific public speaker. Too many writers depend on power point to carry them through their presentations. You had total command of your material, needed no notes, and made eye contact with the audience throughout. It was a pleasure to hear you in person.

Room To Write participant

Thank you so much for your awesome presentation!  We appreciate you traveling to us to talk with our seniors and vets.  We’ve had RAVE reviews!

Randy Houston

I just finished reading The Great Abolitionist and I want to offer kudos to you for an outstanding book. I couldn’t put it down! I have read a lot of history surrounding the Civil War, and I was surprised at how little I knew about Charles Sumner. What a great American he was. I will be forever grateful for what he accomplished (now that I know a lot about that), and I am grateful for your authorship of such a fine book. Thank you for your excellence!

Jerry O’Brien

I simply loved The Great Abolitionist.  Truly a great work – not just good – but great. I could not put the book down once I started.  I could not help but think that the same dire situations, the same dark abysses, the same “choose a side” complicit Washington elite class, the “talk-a-good-game” types on slavery, but who were financing the Johnny Rebs (politicians for R’s and D’s and foreign nations like England), and loving the cotton money – oh my gosh – reflected today in many ways!

But the book showed me that good men and women can overcome anything (with the help of God, who Lincoln, Sumner and so many others in the book called upon every other page!) And boy did I need to read it all, as it gave me solace. Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown, Dred Scot, great men and women besides Abe and Sumner, who gave all they had to save the country (not to mention the soldiers, of course).

Great writing, Steve – it was a different time – you captured it perfectly – and made it timeless. Starting on the first page of this great historical biography, you pulled me in at the deathbed of Lincoln while Sumner is beside him, holding his hand and listening to the last strained breaths of the great Abraham. Sumner is lost, hurt and fearful, just like the nation. He loved Lincoln. The rest of the book does not let up in this beautiful power. You showed how things like the Fugitive Slave Act, and the Pearl incident and John Brown and the Kansas-Nebraska and Dred Scott all intertwine, how each connects to Sumner and abolition, and how each impacted our growing country and forced each person to choose a side. The country was at the edge of the abyss at like no other time in history, and people were forced to look at themselves and ask “who am I and what do I stand for?” and Sumner made them take the mirror out and CHOOSE.

This was a great read. It enlightened me in surprising ways while also giving me solace about our country’s future. It is a very special book

 Steven Eimert

You’ve spoken several times at my law firm, including about American Treasures, and I loved your latest book about Sumner.  Beyond expanding my one-dimensional sense of the guy who was caned, you filled me in on the entire tragic decade before the Civil War, and placed Lincoln practically and philosophically in so much better perspective.  [Your book] is my new go-to gift for friends!

Evelyn DeLutis

I have just finished reading The Great Abolitionist and closed the cover wondering why, having been born and raised just south of Boston, I had NEVER been taught about him. And, I also wonder if today’s students learn about him. The book and your writing have provided me with new learning about a historical figure from my own state. I thank you for the numerous books you have written and I truly look forward to each new one!

Sandy Bateh

I just completed The Great Abolitionist.  I have to say thank you for one of the best reads I have had in many years!  I am 64-years-old and have always read biography, non-fiction, history, and have a library of over 2000 books.  I could not put your book down until I finished it.  I appreciate the work and thank you again…and if you are ever in Jacksonville, Florida I would love to get my copy signed.

Dara Continenza Jackson

I know you are probably quite busy with the recent release of your Charles Sumner book (my copy is on hold at the library as we speak). But I wanted to write a quick note of thanks for your writing. You truly bring to life the events, figures, and documents of America’s past and give readers like me a new appreciation not just for the August history of the nation but for the fascinating and deeply human individuals of our collective American memory. I was so moved by your book on the Boston molasses flood, and I felt a sense of pride (and even a tinge of anxiety) at the awesome power of American Treasures. I look forward to The Great Abolitionist — it may not be my standard beachy summer read but you make history as exciting as any novel.

I can’t wait to introduce my son to your books – sadly, he’s only three and not quite interested in American history yet. But the time will come. Thank you again!

Mary Ann Walsh

Thank you very much for traveling to Middleton on St. Patrick’s Day to speak with the people on the North Shore about Voyage of Mercy.  You are an extremely animated and dynamic speaker, and we learned so much from you.  You were so patient to answer all the questions, as they were very meaningful.  We now have a real appreciation for how you research your books, find a publisher, and then promote your work.

All of the feedback from your presentation has been exemplary.  Best of luck on your new book’s launch…and we look forward to reading that, too.

George Colella

I just finished Due to Enemy Action, and again what a great read. I was on vacation and finished it in four days. I just wish I brought another one of your books with me! I never liked history in school. It’s too bad we couldn’t have read your books back then — I might have enjoyed going to class!

I am not going to wait for another vacation before I read another one of your books, I just need to decide which one.  My choices will be Voyage of Mercy, A City So Grand, or The Caning.

Keep up the good work!

Ethan B. Dorr

(Author’s Note: The writer is the great-grandson of Dudley H. Dorr, who formed the prestigious Boston law firm of Hale & Dorr. Dudley Dorr owned two buildings destroyed by the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919, and he became a trustee for the consolidated cases brought by the plaintiffs in the huge civil lawsuit that followed. I recount the full story in my book Dark Tide.)

Thank you for your diligent research and beautifully written (Dark Tide.)  It helped fill in some gaps and get me started on my own research into my great-grandfather’s involvement…I am happy and proud to know that Dudley was fighting on the right side of this case and also broke some ground when it comes to class action lawsuits. Thank you again for your tremendous research and exceptional work. We added your great work to my great-grandfather’s library in Cape Cod (a rare new addition to Dudley’s collection consisting mostly of books from 1910-1930).

Marilyn Giaquinto 

I met you in Plymouth at our library [where] you talked about your book, Voyage of Mercy. I purchased two copies of your book. One book was for me and the second book was for my Goddaughter who is of Irish heritage. We both felt overwhelmed by the misery of the Irish people. Your book is amazing.  I have read The Boston Italians and Dark Tide and loved them both. I look forward to reading all of your books.  I would be pleased if you use my comments on your website because I love your work!

Marcy Richards 

Just finished reading Dark Tide for the second time. First in 2003 and second in 2023. Enjoyed it even more the second time…Thanks for writing this book. I, and everyone else I recommended the book to, had never known about this [molasses flood].

Nicole Blackwell

I have been reading your book (again) about the caning of Charles Sumner [Note: THE CANING: The Assault That Drove America to Civil War].  As a Sumner fan, I enjoyed it and have learned new information. For a while now (years actually), I have been hoping that a historian/author would come out with another full biography of Senator Sumner…When I saw that you had written a biography of Charles Sumner, it brought some sunshine into my day, and of course, I have already pre-ordered it [Note: THE GREAT ABOLITIONIST: Charles Sumner and the Fight for a More Perfect Union will be released in April 2024].  Anyway, thanks again for writing the book! I had lost hope that any great authors were going to do a new Charles Sumner biography.

Kathy Emmert

I’m excited about your new book. My Dad was our best history teacher. He never graduated from High School as his brother lost both legs on Anzio Beach during World War II. 

My love for history started with him. His knowledge came from reading. He passed that love of history and reading on to me. I believe he was the smartest man I ever knew. 

I was thinking today how much he would have loved your books. I love that you have gone to schools and libraries and shared your gift of storytelling and writing. If one person is sparked by hearing you, that is such a great gift to give.

I’m so glad we are given the opportunity to read much of history that is so relevant to understanding where we come from as well as how things can affect our future. Looking forward to your next book. 

Jeff Benowitz

I live in San Diego and just finished reading Dark Tide on my way to Boston (and back) to attend my son’s college graduation.

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the book. I particularly liked how you spent time honoring each of the victims & heroes (and detailed the roles of the villains), as well as weaving local, national, and worldwide issues & stories throughout the book.

When my son told me about the molasses flood of 1919, I was surprised to have never heard of the tragedy.

My brother-in-law teaches middle school US History and takes a group of kids every year on an East Coast Spring Break trip. They are going to Boston next year, so I am going to suggest he includes this story of historical relevance on his trip.

Tom and Angela Levis

(Author’s note: I need to give a special shout-out to Tom and Angela Levis of upstate, New York, who have “spread the word” about my book, Voyage of Mercy in a spectacular way! Tom and Angela have purchased and distributed more than 40 copies of the book to friends and relatives. Such kind words from Tom and Angela, and so many more readers, are both humbling and gratifying. I appreciate them more than words can convey.)

“My wife and I believe that you have an extraordinary talent for bringing to life American history that every American should know and understand,” Tom said. “Please keep up the great work. What is more, in this current climate of national negativism, your writing is a breath of fresh air.” Angela also read my book, American Treasures, and said: “This should be required reading in every school in the country.”

Donald St. Onge

The author provides a wonderful yet gut-wrenching story of the Irish famine…My knowledge of the Great Irish Famine was superficial at best before I read this book [Voyage of Mercy]…The author…weaves an inspirational story of a horrific event that leaves the reader upset and grateful at the same time.

Joel Coffidis

Growing up in the Boston area, my father frequently told me about the molasses disaster. The story was passed on to him by my grandfather…But I always had questions about this tragedy. So when I came across Stephen Puleo’s book [Dark Tide] I was excited to learn more…It was an excellent book that answered so many questions. I now live in the Washington, D.C. area and I recently read The Caning. This is another great book, filled with excellent details. Both of these books are well-researched and written in a clear way for readers to understand. Some history books are a bit dry, but Stephen’s writing is filled with excellent details and character descriptions…I look forward to reading Stephen’s other books.

Beth Rooney Suereth

Voyage of Mercy will stay with me forever. I just finished [the book], which I read over the last three days and enjoyed immensely. Thank you for your vast and successful efforts to convey the magnitude and ripple effects of that voyage. The details and context provided a vivid backdrop that completes my understanding of the Great Hunger. Your book filled in so many blanks that existed in my mind even after visiting a famine cottage in Ireland several years ago. I didn’t come across any straightforward means of filing those gaps until now…Many thanks again for writing this book. I loved it and will keep it on a bookshelf where I can just enjoy looking at it!

Bill Brigham

Mr. Puleo, my girlfriend introduced me to you when we both attended your discussion of Voyage of Mercy last December at the Tufts Library in Weymouth. I never knew how bad the suffering was and how the English treated the whole situation criminally.

The next book I read was Dark Tide. I had known about the great molasses explosion, but you brought the history of the industry in Boston, New York, and Baltimore to light. So much detail I could place myself right there.

Next Due to Enemy Action. I learned so much about submarines and how much damage the German U Boats caused to our shipping at the beginning of WWII I just couldn’t believe it. [and] …. how Paul Lawton just happened upon the story at a bar with the children of one of the men killed when the Eagle 56 was torpedoed off Portland.

The last book I just finished was City So Grand. I have lived in the area my whole life and have heard/read about many things about Boston, but never in the depth you write. I really learned a lot from all the improvements/contributions made in Boston.

I think you are such an incredible writer being able to tell me so much history in detail from all your research. I hope to pick up some of your other books soon.

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 that 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.


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.