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Harpers Ferry

September 18, 2010

A year ago in an article for the Wall Street Journal, I posed a question: “Was Brown a hero of black freedom or a bloodthirsty terrorist?” There’s no easy answer and I didn’t try to provide one. Instead, the article looks at Brown’s legacy through the prism of “John Brown’s Body,” the famous poem by […]

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Bruce Catton

September 11, 2010

The press materials for The First Assassin include a short document on how I came to write the book. It includes this graf: My fascination with the Civil War began in childhood, when I spent hours studying the battlefield illustrations in Bruce Catton’s popular picture history. At some point, I started reading the words–and today […]

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Underground Railroad

September 5, 2010

When I was researching The First Assassin, I read a number of books on slavery and the Underground Railroad. One of them was Bound for Canaan by Fergus M. Bordewich, which I reviewed for the Wall Street Journal: The network of abolitionists devoted to helping slaves find their freedom wasn’t described as “underground” for nothing. […]

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H.G. Wells

August 30, 2010

Five years ago, the reboot of The War of the Worlds hit movie theaters–and I took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to say that H.G. Wells was “nothing if not a radical who yearned to reshape the fundamentals of human society through books and politics.”

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Giving Pledge

August 23, 2010

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett want the wealthiest Americans to commit half of their fortunes to charity. They’re calling it the “Giving Pledge.” Four years ago, when Buffett announced that he would merge his assets with the Gates Foundation, I wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the key to successful philanthropy didn’t lie in […]

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Currituck Light

August 16, 2010

My wife and I like to visit lighthouses. Summer used to be lighthouse-visiting season for us. We didn’t lay eyes on any new ones this year and we may not have succeeded last year, either. That’s because we’ve already seen most of the good ones that are within a reasonable driving distance. That includes just […]

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