Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to see a fascinating exhibit entitled The King James Bible: Its History and Influence at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Four hundred years after its first printing, the King James Bible remains one of the most widely read and printed books in the English language. Its language and phraseology still permeates contemporary music, literature, and everyday speech. The exhibition told the little-known story of the translation and making of the King James Bible.

John Rogers, portrait by Willem van de Passe

John Rogers, portrait by Willem van de Passe

I would not have thought that the King James Bible, first printed in 1611, would have a Lewis and Clark connection, until a panel on early translators of the English bible caught my eye. It mentioned Matthew’s Bible, a 1537 translation credited to the imaginary “Thomas Matthew.” In fact, the panel stated, the real editor of the work was John Rogers, a clergyman and chaplain of the English merchant’s company in Antwerp, Belgium, where another Bible translator named William Tyndale lived.

A friend of Rogers, William Tyndale was a young priest living in defiance of the law. His modern English translations of the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament, published in the 1520’s and 1530’s, were the first English translations made from the original Greek and Hebrew texts of the Bible. They were also considered heresy.  A 1409 English law, still on the books over 100 years later, decreed that it was heresy to own or even read a non-Latin Bible. Tyndale had asked permission from the bishop of London to perform his translation, but he was denied, so he had moved to Europe, where he published a complete English New Testament and then began to translate several books of the Old Testament.

King Henry VIII of England

King Henry VIII of England

Unfortunately for Tyndale, when the contraband books reached England, King Henry VIII was not amused. Under English law, heresy was punishable by burning alive. Tricked out of seclusion, Tyndale was arrested in Antwerp and thrown in prison. In 1536, he was convicted of heresy, defrocked, and burned at the stake. In a supposed act of mercy, Tyndale was said to have been strangled before his body was set ablaze.

However grisly his death, Tyndale had made an impression on his friend John Rogers. In 1537, a year after Tyndale’s death, Rogers edited and published an edition of the Bible based largely on Tyndale’s translations under the name of “Thomas Matthew.” Fortunately for Rogers, Henry VIII was in the process of breaking away from the Catholic Church and forming the independent Church of England. Henry liked the “Thomas Matthew” translation and licensed it to sell in England, making it the first English edition that was legally sold there. Under the reasoning that every English church should have at least one English bible, 1500 copies of Matthew’s Bible were printed and distributed to English parishes.

Unfortunately, Rogers was not destined to escape his friend Tyndale’s fate. After taking charge of a Protestant congregation in Wittenberg for some years, John Rogers returned to England in 1548 and was eventually appointed the divinity lecturer at St. Paul’s Church. He was outspoken and iconoclastic, declining to wear the prescribed vestments, instead wearing a simple round cap.

“Bloody” Mary

When Queen Mary took the throne in 1553, Rogers preached at Paul’s Cross, warning his hearers against the “pestilent Popery, idolatry and superstition” of the Roman Catholic Church. Ten days after this bold public display, on August 16, 1553, John Rogers was summoned before the council and placed under house arrest. In January 1554, the new bishop of London sent him to Newgate Prison, where he languished for over a year. In January 1555, Rogers was sentenced to death for heretically denying the Christian character of the Church of Rome and the physical presence of the body of Christ in the sacrament of communion.

Rogers remained cheerful and defiant to the end. When he was taken from Newgate Prison to Smithfield, the place of his execution, one of the sheriffs asked him if he would recant his earlier preachings. “That which I have preached I will seal with my blood,” Rogers replied. The sheriff said, “Thou art an heretic.” Rogers replied “That shall be known at the Day of Judgment.” The sheriff then added, “I will never pray for thee.” Rogers responded, “But I will pray for you.”

John Rogers burns at the stake, 1555

John Rogers burns at the stake, 1555

John Rogers was burned at the stake on the February 4, 1555, at Smithfield in London, one of many victims of Queen “Bloody” Mary. His great grandson, named Thomas Matthews Rogers, was the father of Giles Rogers, who emigrated to America in 1680. Giles Rogers is the great-grandfather of explorer William Clark.

For more on the fascinating history of the making of the King James Bible, please visit this fantastic site:

Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible

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Washington Irving

Washington Irving

On September 13, 1832, former governor of the Missouri Territory William Clark played host to a distinguished visitor. It was none other than Washington Irving, the famous author who had captivated the country with stories such as “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Along with James Fenimore Cooper, Irving was one of the United States’  best-selling authors and one of the few American literary lights to achieve international fame. His visit to St. Louis was a major event.

Besides his short stories, Irving was also known for his satirical essays and histories. His best known work was a send-up of New York history and politics called A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, by Diedrich Knickerbocker. A viral marketer before his time, Irving placed a series of missing person notices in New York newspapers prior to the book’s publication, seeking information on “Diedrich Knickerbocker,” an old Dutch historian who had supposedly disappeared from a New York City hotel. One of the notices—claiming to be from the hotel’s proprietor—informed readers that if Mr. Knickerbocker failed to return to pay his bill, he would publish a manuscript Knickerbocker had left behind.

Diedrich Knickerbocker (F.O.C. Darley, 1809)

Diedrich Knickerbocker (F.O.C. Darley, 1809)

Intrigued by the ruse, readers flocked to buy A History of New York as soon as it hit the streets in December 1809, and Irving became an instant celebrity. (The term “Knickerbocker” became an instant slang term for the Dutch residents of old New York, and lives on today, most notably in the team name of the NBA’s New York Knicks.)

Irving had an interesting backstory of his own. The son of a prosperous merchant family, Irving was initially opposed the War of 1812 as inimical to his family’s business interests, but he enlisted in the New York militia following the burning of Washington in August 1814. The war proved to be a disaster for the Irving family, and Washington Irving left for Liverpool, England in 1815 to attempt to salvage the family’s import/export business. He remained in Europe for the next seventeen years, serving in various diplomatic posts. During this time, he built his own literary reputation book by book and, in the eyes of the rest of the world, virtually defined the major themes in early American literature.

Irving was fresh off the boat from Europe when he arrived on William Clark’s doorstep in the fall of 1832. His return had reawakened an earlier interest in his own country, especially the developing frontier, and his trip to St. Louis was part of a larger tour of the west designed to help him reconnect with his American roots.

St. Louis in 1832

St. Louis in 1832

Irving’s account of St. Louis is vivid and delightful. He wrote of an “old rackety gambling house” with the “noise of the cue and the billiard ball from morning to night,” and of “old French women accosting each other in the street.” His stream-of-consciousness journal of his visit with Clark showcases Irving’s observational powers, as well as his gifts for description. It is also the most vivid account existing of Clark’s life in old age – not to mention a priceless glimpse into life in early 19th-century America.

Drive out to Gov. Clarks – cross prairie – flowering and fragrant shrubs – the Gov’s farm – small cottage – orchard bending and breaking with loads of fruit – negroes with tables under trees preparing meal – fine sitting-room in open air – little negroes whispering and laughing – civil negro major-domo who asks to take horses out – invites me to walk in the orchard and spreads table with additional cover – sitting-room – rifle and game bag, etc., in corners – Indian calumet over fireplace – remains fo fire on hearth, showing that morn’g has been cool – lovely day – golden sunshine – transparent atmosphere – pure breeze.

Fine nut trees, peach trees, grape vines, etc., etc., about the house – look out over rich, level plain or prairie – green near at hand – blue line at the horizon – universal chirp and spinning of insects – fertility of country – grove of walnuts in the rear of the house – beehives – der cote – canoe – Gen’l arrives on horseback with dogs – guns. His grand-son on a calico pony hallowing and  laughing – Gen’l on horseback – gun on his shoulder – house dog – bullying setter.

Gov. Clark fine healthy, robust man – tall – about fifty – perhaps more – his hair originally light, now grey – falling on his shoulders – frank – intelligent — his son a cadet of W.P. [West Point] now in the army – aide-de-camp to Gen’l Atkinson.

William Clark by George Catlin, 1830

William Clark by George Catlin, 1830

Irving approved heartily of the menu, and took the time to pick Clark’s brain about the Osage and Pawnee Indians he wanted to visit further up the river. He wrote, “Dinner plentiful – good – but rustic – fried chicken, bacon and grouse, roast beef, baked potatoes, tomatoes, excellent cakes, bread, butter, etc., etc. Gov. C. gives much excellent information concerning Indians.”

Washington Irving’s interview with Clark is the basis of some of what we know about the fate of members of the Corps of Discovery. Around that time, Clark apparently made a list of which of the men were still living and those who had died, which he may have shared with Irving. Among the dead was Clark’s slave York. Irving wrote about what Clark told him about York’s fate.

His slaves – set them free – one he placed at a ferry – another on a farm, giving him land, horses, etc. – a third he gave a large wagon and team of six horses to ply between Nashville and Richmond. They all repented and wanted to come back.

The waggoner was York, the hero of the Missouri expedition and adviser of the Indians. He could not get up early enough in the morn’g – his horses were ill kept – two died – the others grew poor. He sold them and was cheated – entered into service – fared ill. “Damn this freedom,” said York, “I have never had a happy day since I got it.” He determined to go back to his old master – set off for St. Louis but was taken with the cholera in Tennessee and died. Some of the traders think they have met traces of York’s crowd, on the Missouri.

If Irving found this account self-serving, he did not note it in his journal, but no matter how unsuccessful York’s draying business was – or how he ultimately died – it is very hard to believe York ever spoke the words Clark attributed to him.

Benjamine Bonneville

Benjamine Bonneville

Irving’s trip out west inspired him to write three American-themed works, including an account of his trip, A Tour of the Prairies (published 1835), which was well-received by the reading public. He was also approached by fur magnate John Jacob Astor to write his biography, which was published as the puff-piece Astoria in 1836. While out west, Irving also met Benjamin Bonneville, explorer of the Oregon trail, and bought Bonneville’s maps and journals for $1000. He later turned these materials into a book, The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, in 1837.

After a stint as the U.S. Minister to Spain, Irving concentrated mostly on historical works. He had just completed a five-volume biography, The Life of Washington, when he died at age 76 in 1859.  Although his writing seems somewhat quaint today, Irving helped to define – at least in the eyes of the reading public at home and abroad – a sense of the American identity. His visit with Clark reflects that, and his reputation as one of America’s first literary lions remains intact.

Further reading: The Fate of York

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An Artist in Treason by Andro Linklater

An Artist in Treason by Andro Linklater

I recently finished reading Andro Linklater’s fine biography of General James Wilkinson, An Artist in Treason. What a smooth operator Wilkinson was! Throughout his life, Wilkinson knew how to curry favor with powerful patrons. Despite decades of being in secret collusion with the Spanish government – he was known in Havana as “Agent 13” – Wilkinson still  managed to hang on to his post as commanding general  of the U.S. Army through four different changes in administration. The tale of how he did that is something worthy of Shakespeare.

Wilkinson was born in 1757 to an aristocratic Maryland family fallen on hard times. His father, a wealthy planter, fell into disastrous debt and died at the young age of 33, leaving his family to survive on the charity of relatives. Wilkinson idealized his father as the perfect country gentleman, seeming to harbor both resentment at the family’s diminished status and a ravenous desire to recreate his father’s wealth.

General Horatio Gates, by Gilbert Stuart

General Horatio Gates, by Gilbert Stuart

Wilkinson’s army career began during the Revolution, where he made a habit of cultivating powerful patrons who helped advance his own career. A smart and charming young man, brimming with confidence, young “Wilky” comes across as an 18th-century version of Eddie Haskell. Ironically, Wilkinson’s first mentor was the soon-to-be-turncoat Benedict Arnold, whom he dropped in favor of Horatio Gates when Arnold’s star began to fade. Gates became something of a surrogate father to Wilkinson, but that relationship also soured. When the young officer’s indiscretion inadvertently revealed the existence of a group of high-ranking generals known as the “Conway Cabal” who were conspiring to remove George Washington as head of the Continental Army and replace him with Gates, Gates tried to discredit Wilkinson to save himself. Wilkinson responded viciously, and the two men’s friendship ended in an ugly and theatrical duel.

"Mad Anthony" Wayne

"Mad Anthony" Wayne

Anybody but Wilkinson would have been cashiered at this point, but his charm and confidence – not to mention a modicum of ability, rare in the army in those years—made his military career all but unsinkable. After some time in civilian life following the revolution – a time when he made contact with Spanish officials in New Orleans and agreed to help advance The Spanish Conspiracy in exchange for cash – he rejoined the army in 1791, assuming he would end up its commander. Instead this job fell to “Mad Anthony” Wayne, whom Wilkinson hated as a bitter rival and relentlessly sought to undermine. It was not until Wayne’s death in 1796 that Wilkinson finally got his wish, ascending to the coveted post of “commander-in-chief” of the U.S. Army.

It is astonishing to realize that every president Wilkinson served under, from George Washington to James Madison, was well aware of Wilkinson’s vanity, treachery, and allegiance to the Spanish crown. In a time when the mere existence of a standing professional army was a matter of extreme controversy, Wilkinson’s predictability was a valuable asset. The men in the White House banked on the fact that if you stroked Wilkinson’s ego nicely enough, he would ensure that the army remained party-neutral and under civilian control.

The president who seems to have had the most smug certainty about Wilkinson’s pliability was Thomas Jefferson, who might have felt differently had he known that Wilkinson had tipped the Spanish government off to the fact that the Lewis & Clark Expedition would be passing through Spanish territory. The Spanish sent out three attempts under Captain Pedro Vial to kill or capture Lewis & Clark’s party. Had they succeeded, the history of U.S. western expansion might have played out much differently.

Aaron Burr

Aaron Burr

Even Jefferson’s certainty was shaken in 1806, when the president found himself waiting in trepidation to see whether Wilkinson would keep the army loyal to the United States or throw it behind the empire-building conspiracy of former Vice President Aaron Burr. Burr connived with Wilkinson and others in a scheme to raise a military force to separate the western states from the U.S. and invade  Mexico. This was no pipe dream, but a well though-out plan that had the backing of political and military luminaries such as Andrew Jackson. But when plans went awry and Wilkinson knew his involvement was about to be exposed, he unceremoniously decided to save his own hide. Declaring himself the savior of the nation, Wilkinson threw Aaron Burr under the bus and exposed the conspiracy to the world.

Wilkinson’s talent for flattery and play-acting is on great display in these two passages from Linklater’s book, describing Wilkinson’s role as star witness in the trial of Aaron Burr. The first encounter between Wilkinson and Burr – betrayer and betrayed—was electrifying. Here is how author Washington Irving described the scene:

Wilkinson strutted into court and took his stand in a parallel line with Burr on his right hand. Here he stood for a moment, swelling like a turkey cock and bracing himself for the encounter of Burr’s eye. The latter did not take any notice of him until the judge directed the clerk to swear General Wilkinson; at the mention of the name Burr turned his head, looked him full in the face with one of his piercing regards, swept his eye over his whole person from head to food, as if to scan its dimensions, and then cooly resumed his former position, and went on versing with his counsel as tranquilly as ever. The whole look was over in an instant, but it was an admirable one. There was no appearance of study or constraint in it; no affectation of disdain or defiance; a slight expression of contempt played over his countenance.

Thomas Jefferson by St. Memin

Thomas Jefferson by St. Memin

And here is how Wilkinson described it, and a letter to President Thomas Jefferson:

I was introduced to a position within the bar very near my adversary. I saluted the bench and inspite of myself my eyes darted a flash of indignation at the little traitor, on whom they continued fixed until I was called to the Book; her, sir, I found my expectations verified—this lion-hearted, eagle-eyed Hero, jerking under the weight of conscious guilt, with haggard eyes in an effort to meet the indignant salutation of outraged honor; but it was in vain, his audacity failed him. He averted his face, grew pale, and affected passion to conceal his perturbation.

Despite Wilkinson’s testimony, Burr was acquitted. And in  keeping with his reputation as a general who “never won a battle but never lost a court-martial,” Wilkinson survived an inquiry into his own role in the matter. But he fooled no one. The Burr conspiracy left an indelible stain on his high-flying but sordid career, which ended only when the U.S. military was completely overhauled after the War of 1812.

Linklater does a great job using Wilkinson’s life as an indictment of the entire era he represented – an era when the U.S. Army was amateurish, starved for cash and leadership, and heavily politicized.  Of Wilkinson’s final court-martial –an inquiry into military blunders on the Canadian frontier during the war of 1812 – Linklater gives us this damning summation:

…with the hindsight of history, what seems overwhelmingly obvious is that the wrong accusations were leveled against him. Even the one charge of which he was certainly guilty, covert treachery to the United States, was less damaging than his overt and repeated betrayal of the army. Yet no court could try him for acquiescence in its political neutering and financial strangulation because the instigators were Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.

These words are a fitting capstone to this shabby life story which is both tragedy and farce. It makes you give quiet thanks for our modern-day, well-trained, professional U.S. Army.

Order "The Fairest Portion of the Globe"

For more interesting reading on Wilkinson, I recommend our two novels, To the Ends of the Earth and The Fairest Portion of the Globe. Wilkinson appears as a major character in each. I must say, I was gratified to read Linklater’s book and confirm that our characterization of Wilkinson was right on the money. It’s hard to get enough of this fascinating “finished scoundrel.”

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Flood waters cover a highway between Nebraska and Iowa.

It’s pretty hard not to focus on the Missouri River right now in light of the historic flooding going on in Lewis & Clark country. Many of Lewis & Clark aficionados dream of floating on the river and recreating parts of the journey, and some, like the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles, have even done it. But look at it now:

Brad Williams’ amazing photographs of the flooding near Council Bluffs

The River and I, by John G. Neihardt (1910)

A fascinating account, more poetry than travelogue, can be found in John G. Neihardt’s slim volume, The River and I, first published in 1910. Neihardt was in his mid-20s at the time that he and two friends, whom he identifies only as The Kid and Bill, hiked from Great Falls (the nearest railroad stop) to Fort Benton, where they planned to assemble a homemade boat and then float the river from Fort Benton to Sioux City, Iowa. From the beginning, it is captivating to imagine the young men’s journey as they hike through sagebrush and prickly pears in a country almost unchanged from the way it appeared to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark a century earlier.

Neihardt’s description of the Great Falls of the Missouri, still undammed at the time of his adventure, adds another dimension to the awe felt by Lewis in 1805:

A half-hour more of clambering over shale-strewn gullies, up sun-baked watercourses, and we found ourselves toiling up the ragged slope of a bluff; and soon we stood upon a rocky ledge with the thunders beneath us. Damp gusts beat upward over the blistering scarp of the cliff. I lay down, and crawling to the edge, looked over. Two hundred feet below me — straight down as a pebble drops — a watery Inferno raged, and far-flung whirlwinds all but exhausted with the dizzy upward reach, whisked cool, invisible mops of mist across my face.

With the dubious help of skeptical locals, the young men establish their “navy yard” at Fort Benton and proceed to build a light gasoline-powered boat that proves no match for the brutal whims of the capricious Missouri. And as for supplies in Montana, they soon learn not to rely on the “towns” labeled on the map:

At a point about fifty miles from the “town” so deeply longed for, a lone cow-punch appeared on the bank.

“How far to Rocky Point?” I cried.

“Oh, something less than two hundred miles!” drawled the horseman. (How carelessly they juggle with miles in that country!)

“It’s just a little place, isn’t it?” I continued.

“Little place!” answered the cow-puncher; “hell, no!”

“What!” I cried in glee; “Is it really a town of importance?” I had visions of a budding metropolis, full of gasoline and grub.

“It guess it ain’t a little place,” explained the rider; “w’y, they’ve got nigh onto ten thousand cattle down there!”

Though only 80 pages, The River and I is not a quick read, but a book to savor, full of youthful philosophy, poetical descriptions of the river as it existed 100 years ago, and a fair dash of humor and adventure. History buffs will enjoy as well the differences between then and now, including Neihardt’s enthusiastic ruminations on what it means to be a man (with strong echoes of Teddy Roosevelt and The Strenuous Life) and the near-obsession, common to the period, of carefully documenting the ethnicity of everyone involved and attributing their character traits to their race. Who knew being a Cornishman could be so significant?

John G. Neihardt in later years

John G. Neihardt went on to become a significant man of letters in the West, authoring epic poems and interviewing dozens of participants in key events such as the Battle of the Little Bighorn and the Massacre at Wounded Knee. Named the poet laureate of Nebraska in 1921, he held the post until his death in 1973. His most famous work is Black Elk Speaks (1932), a narration of the visions of Lakota holy man Black Elk. Neihardt worked with Black Elk for several years in the early 1930s to record his life and philosophy, earning the Lakota name Flaming Rainbow. The book is still in print and was especially popular in the 1960s, when it greatly influenced changing perceptions about Native American wisdom and the beginnings of the “new age” movement.

More great reading: Montana Yesterday (where I first learned about this book)

John G. Neihardt (great information from the Nebraska State Historical Society)

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The ongoing flooding disaster along the Missouri River in the Great Plains and Midwest is a sobering reminder of man’s tenuous relationship with nature. Despite all our engineering feats and illusion of control, the earth still conjures up torrential rains, ice packs and snowmelts that make our levies and floodgates look pretty puny indeed.

A home is taken by the flood in Minot, North Dakota, June 2011

A home is taken by the flood in Minot, North Dakota, June 2011

The evacuation and inundation of Minot, North Dakota – just the latest community to go under – calls to mind the horrific Missouri River flood of 1993, which destroyed more than ten thousand homes, killed fifty people, inundated millions of acres of farmland, halted river and rail transport, and resulted in billions of dollars in damage. As the flood and its consequences roll downstream, we may be looking at an awful repeat.

For some perspective on the 1993 flood and some background on the more recent state of the Missouri River, I recommend a thoughtful book called Rivers of Change: Trailing the Waterways of Lewis and Clark, by water resources consultant Tom Mullen. (We had the pleasure of meeting Tom on a Lewis and Clark trip along the Columbia and Snake Rivers in 2005, where he was the guest historian.)

Rivers of Change by Tom Mullen, Roundwood Press (2004)

Rivers of Change by Tom Mullen, Roundwood Press (2004)

Around 2002,  Tom returned to the United States after years of helping developing countries set up water systems overseas. As a way of easing his “reentry” into life in the United States, Tom went on a six-month, cross country odyssey – following the rivers that Lewis and Clark traveled, the Missouri and the Columbia.

Along the way, Tom talked to dozens of people who live and work along those rivers: farmers, waitresses, small-town historians, freight boat captains, ecologists, Native Americans, Fish and Wildlife employees, dam operators. As the context for his conversations, Tom asked the people about the floods of 1993 and 1997 that devastated the areas along the Missouri River. He also asked them how the building of dams in the 50’s and 60’s had changed their lives.

The result is a fascinating picture of the effect on lives and ecosystems when man attempts to harness nature. What Tom found out is that we have made terrific strides in using the power of the rivers for energy production, literally making it possible to “make the desert bloom.” On the other hand, dams and levies have tamed wild areas of the river along the Lower Missouri, making river channels deeper and more consistent, the current faster, and commerce more predictable – but also making for fast rising waters in times of flood. Development and dams further up the Missouri have provided power for residents but destroyed unique wildlife habitat along the rivers, with surprising consequences. They have also cut Native American tribes off from an important part of their culture.

There are tradeoffs everywhere, and one of the most refreshing things about this book is that Tom does not attempt to moralize. Reading this book is like taking a rambling road trip with a friend. You might not think of water management as a fascinating topic, but your eyes will be opened by the effect of the great rivers on the communities that live along them. Especially at a time when the devastating power of water and our inability to control it is all too evident.

I-29 in Corning, Missouri, June 2011

I-29 barely above water in Corning, Missouri, June 2011

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The Fairest Portion of the Globe

Visit our "Buy Now" page to save on a set of both our novels.

Great news!! ForeWord Reviews has announced the 2010 Book of the Year Awards list of finalists. Representing more than 350 publishers, the finalists were selected from 1400 entries in 56 categories. As ForeWord puts it, “These books are examples of independent publishing at its finest.”

Drum roll please! The Fairest Portion of the Globe is a finalist for the 2010 Book of the Year Awards in the historical fiction category!

The exciting thing about making the short list for ForeWord’s Book of the Year is that award winners are chosen by real librarians and booksellers, who are on the front lines everyday working with patrons and customers. In an industry riddled with trouble and “pay for play” hype, it’s a huge honor to be recognized by a program established just to help independent publishers shine the spotlight on their best titles, and help readers connect with the best in  independent literary and graphic achievement.

Haven’t checked it out yet? The Fairest Portion of the Globe is an epic, intricate historical thriller of the kind that first brought us to notice with To the Ends of the Earth: The Last Journey of Lewis & Clark, also a Foreword Book of the Year finalist (as well as the recipient of several other major honors). As regular readers of this site know, the book’s plot concerns two young soldiers in the frontier army—names, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark—who become caught up in America’s first great crisis for survival.

The Fairest Portion of the Globe mingles several historical plots, not the least important of which derives from the actual conspiracy between Citizen Genet, Thomas Jefferson, and the washed-up Revolutionary hero George Rogers Clark. The adventure of the two young friends binds these stories together in a manner which, we hope, offers readers both a good thrill ride and an inspiring message.

Read an excerpt and reviews and watch the trailer … or, better yet, buy the darn thing! It’s even on sale! Wah hoo!

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Now That’s Charisma

Here we are plugging our books at the recent Writer Appreciation Day in Austin, Texas. Be prepared to fall into the glitter!

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