Nearly every American has heard of the Hatfields and the McCoys and their infamous feud, yet almost nobody knows the truth of this legendarily violent-and influential-clash in the heart of Appalachia. Contrary to popular belief, this wasn’t just hillbilly families taking potshots at each other: the Hatfields and McCoys were well-established landowners, who had intermarried and interacted for decades. But after the Civil War, things turned bloody. By the time the fury subsided, 13 family members lay dead, and the hostilities had become a national media spectacle as state officials and the United States Supreme Court were drawn into the grisly dispute.read more…
In October 1934, the Chinese Red Army foundsands of the western deserts. Fewer than 10,000 of them would survive, but remarkably all of the women would live to tell the tale.
Unbound is an amazing story of love, friendship, and survival written by a new master of adventure narrative. read more…
Skeletons On The Sahara
It was a once-in-a-lifetime find. I was researching for my book Harbors and High Seas in the New York Yacht Club library, when, combing the shelves, I spotted a book entitled “Sufferings in Africa.” It was too much for me to resist. I pulled the musty volume down and read it, ignoring my work for the next day and a half. It was the memoir of Connecticut captain James Riley, published in 1817, telling the story of the wreck of the merchant brig Commerce on the west coast of Africa. His tale of suffering at sea and of enslavement, death and redemption on the Sahara was stunningly detailed and nuanced. Unable to forget the story, I crossed the street to the New York Public Library and researched both Riley and the other members
of his crew. read more..
Patrick O’Brian: A Life Revealed
The more I spent time in the world of Patrick O’Brian, the more I realized—at least subconsciously—that there was something funny going on. To justify his reticence to talk about himself, O’Brian argued that readers didn’t need to know anything about Homer to appreciate Homer. I did not buy this argument. (Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to know more about Homer! And look at our fascination with the
identity of Shakespeare.) If Homer lived today and particularly if he toured America promoting his books, we would know plenty about him. But O’Brian insisted that no one ask personal questions and no one look into his background. read more..
A Sea of Words
I wrote A Sea of Words in 1994 after reading the sixteen Aubrey-Maturin books available at that time. Like many O’Brian readers, I had discovered these books in Richard Snow’s watershed review on the cover of the New York Times Book Review. I clipped the review and put it in a file for a rainy day. When the small publisher I worked for suddenly went belly up two years later, that rainy day arrived, proving once again that setback is often the door to great opportunity. With time on my hands, I read the series in four euphoric–at least, from a literary standpoint–months. The plot, the humor, and the erudition of O’Brian’s roman fleuve was stunning. read more…
Harbors and High Seas
Readers of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels always clamored for maps. One of the few gripes I generally heard from readers was that O’Brian’s books, published in the U.S. by W. W. Norton, always included the same ship diagram from Liber Nauticus. After a dozen volumes or so, readers thought the publisher might dispense of this diagram, lovely though it is, and instead include a useful map or series of maps to the book’s action. read more…
Every Man Will Do His Duty
People really seem to love this collection of eyewitness stories. They are graphic, dramatic, immediate — and often delivered with a dollop of seamen’s humor. In addition to providing