Mid-year news and updates

It’s been several months since I’ve done an update, mainly because — thanks to readers’ support — I’ve been busy with many speaking events on my latest book, American Treasures: The Secret Efforts to Save the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address. My loyal readers know the book was released around Labor Day in 2016 (the 240th anniversary year of America declaring its independence and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence), and this year, 2017, is the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution (September 17). So it’s no surprise this past speaking season was jam-packed.

I’m very excited to announce that American Treasures will become a paperback! The paperback edition, which will be published by Picador, will be out on September 5, 2017 — perfect timing, since less than two weeks later is the September 17 anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. This is great news, because it means the book will be around for a long time. If you can’t wait until September, you can pre-order the paperback at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

And more good news — this about my book Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919. Beacon Press has announced that it will be releasing a special edition of the book in time for the 100th anniversary of the flood in January of 2019! Plans are in the works for additional content from me (a preface or afterword) and perhaps some changes or updates to the cover. It seems like a long way away, but lead times in the publishing industry are longer than most. If you have any great ideas for an updated cover, please let me know — and of course, I’ll keep you posted as the 100th anniversary of the flood approaches and the Dark Tide “anniversary edition” gets closer.

I’m thrilled to announce that this Fall I’ll be teaching on an adjunct basis at my alma mater, the University of Massachusetts-Boston. I’ll be teaching a World War II course entitled: “World War II: The Global War” (History 318). If you know students at UMB, please let them know about the course and suggest that they sign up fast. It will be a seminar-style course, with a maximum of 30 students, and I promise you it will be interesting (some of you will recall that I taught a similar course at Suffolk University for several semesters). I earned both my bachelor’s (English) and master’s (History) at UMB, which will make this an extra special experience for me.

I’ve had the opportunity to take part in many special speaking events over the past several months — indeed, I’m proud to say that I now have made 525 appearances as an author. I spoke about American Treasures last Fall at the National Archives in Washington D.C. Later, on December 15, Bill of Rights Day, I was honored to be part of a panel at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. It’s a wonderful place and I urge you to visit — right across the “quad” from Independence Hall and adjacent to the Liberty Bell and the Independence Hall Visitors Center.

Other events during the past speaking season were also memorable — I can’t list all of them here, but I hope you know how grateful I am when you invite me to speak to your group or organization. I love talking about books and history, and most of all enjoy the connection and conversation with readers that takes place before and after the formal events. The energy, enthusiasm and hard work that goes into the planning of these events makes authors extremely grateful.

I’ve also been blessed as an author by the number of book clubs who have invited me to visit — well over 50 and counting so far. Many other clubs have read my work although we haven’t been able to schedule a visit. Thank you to book club readers!

I was honored this May to participate in a video honoring National Archives’ staff members as part of the Archives’ 2017 Archivist’s Achievement Awards Program that coincided with National Public Service Recognition Week. I, along with several other researchers and authors, appeared in a brief video, which was posted on the home page of David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. David and his team were extremely helpful throughout my work on American Treasures, and as I say in the video, the National Archives is an American Treasure!

From time to time, I recommend nonfiction/narrative history books that I think you’ll enjoy. Two stood out to me this past winter and spring. First was a new biography of Ulysses S. Grant called “American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant” by Ronald White, an excellent look at Grant as both general and president. The conventional wisdom is that Grant was a brilliant general and — at best — a mediocre president. This book will — and should — change your thinking. For sure, Grant’s military leadership is stellar, and White explains why; but White makes a convincing argument for why Grant’s presidency should also be admired. The second book is “The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family’s Quest to Bring Him Home,” a remarkable WWII story told by Sally Mott Freeman. It’s about three brothers from New Jersey, all of whom figure prominently in WWII — one brother is taken prisoner by the Japanese and the book focuses on the efforts of his two siblings and his mother to determine his whereabouts and his fate. Freeman is the daughter of one of the brothers (not the one taken prisoner), which means this book is not only impeccably researched, but is part of her family history and lore. It’s written in a personal way with an historian’s rigor. I can go on and on about this book, but won’t (don’t want to issue any spoiler alerts) … just enjoy both of these terrific reads.

I also want to share a quick note on my recent trip to Washington D.C. with the St. Jerome School (Weymouth, MA) 8th grade class. My wife, Kate, is principal of the pre-K-8 grade school, and it’s our sixth consecutive visit to D.C. with the eighth grade. It’s a whirlwind trip during Memorial Day week, when the kids enjoy visits to all the memorials, monuments, and museums they can handle. Trips to the National Archives, Arlington National Cemetery (and the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier), and the Military Tattoo at Fort Myer are among the highlights. Once again, it was a great group of SJS eighth-graders who helped make the trip to our nation’s capital very special.

And finally, as I’ve said before: I have much to be thankful for in my life and count my blessings each day for many reasons. I want to offer my deep and profound thanks to all who have supported or encouraged me in one or more ways — attended a presentation, corresponded with me, purchased a book and asked me to inscribe it. Maybe I’ve visited your library, historical society, school, bookstore, or book club to talk about books, history, writing, or teaching. Perhaps you’ve asked me to speak at an annual dinner or as part of a panel. I am enormously grateful for and humbled by your support. Saying “thank you” feels inadequate. You’ll be hearing from me again in the early fall. Meantime, happy reading and enjoy the summer.