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Monday, December 31, 2012

It's Monday, What are You Reading? Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man

It's Monday, What are You Reading?

Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man by Walter Stahr

This is the forty-fifth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

One of my Christmas book gifts… getting right at it!  ;-)

Book Description of Seward on Amazon:

From one of our most acclaimed new biographers– the first full life of the leader of Lincoln’s “team of rivals” to appear in more than forty years. William Henry Seward was one of the most important Americans of the nineteenth century. Progressive governor of New York and outspoken U.S. senator, he was the odds-on favorite to win the 1860 Republican nomination for president. As secretary of state and Lincoln’s closest adviser during the Civil War, Seward not only managed foreign affairs but had a substantial role in military, political, and personnel matters.
Some of Lincoln’s critics even saw Seward, erroneously, as the power behind the throne; this is why John Wilkes Booth and his colleagues attempted to kill Seward as well as Lincoln. Seward survived the assassin’s attack, continued as secretary of state, and emerged as a staunch supporter of President Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s controversial successor. Through his purchase of Alaska (“Seward’s Folly”), and his groundwork for the purchase of the Canal Zone and other territory, Seward set America on course to become a world empire.
Seward was not only important, he was fascinating. Most nights this well-known raconteur with unruly hair and untidy clothes would gather diplomats, soldiers, politicians, or actors around his table to enjoy a cigar, a drink, and a good story. Drawing on hundreds of sources not available to or neglected by previous biographers, Walter Stahr sheds new light on this complex and central figure, as well as on pivotal events of the Civil War and its aftermath.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Writing Plans for 2013

Writing Plans for 2013

1. I now describe 'what I do' in retirement as "Reading and Writing" - I read to write; I write for personal satisfaction. My writing takes many forms, it changes from time to time in order to maintain satisfaction levels.

2. During 2012 I added the commitment to be a monthly columnist for the digi-mag "The In-Depth Genealogist," as The Heritage Tourist. I will continue this in 2013 with one monthly column and one monthly blog post there.

3. I became an active 'lensmaster' on during 2012 by creating/writing 126 new lenses (webpages) on a variety of topics, with Heritage Tourism and Family History leading the way. I will continue this activity in 2013 at a measured pace. My lenses about books I read have been popular; I will continue to write them. I also write reviews, have guest posts and interviews, and participate in Virtual Book Tours on my blogs, listed below.

4. It seems I need to have each of my five blogs to have the necessary outlets for what I want to write. Each has its own content and focus, and I've noticed the priority among them shifts a bit, month by month. That is fine as it seems to keep me from getting bored.
Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories
Dr. Bill on Retirement
Dr. Bill's Book Bazaar
The Homeplace Series Blog
The KINNICK Project

4. I will continue to write articles each month for on my three topic areas: Springfield Genealogy Examiner, Ozarks Cultural Heritage Examiner, and (added in 2012) Springfield Heritage Tourism Examiner; two or three articles in each topic, each month.

5. 2012 was a year of research (reading), writing and shifting priorities in my fiction priorities. My only publication was another short story in the OWL Anthology (second in two years). It was the next 'episode' in the 1833 background research for "The Homeplace Series." These two short stories are now being shared on the blog "serialized" over a few months. This will continue as I move toward the publication of a "background" book on the family history of the characters in my "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited" novels (working title: "American Centennial at the Homeplace"). This book is anchored by an Extended Short Story about  the Homeplace during the Civil War. In 2013 I also hope to publish my first Mystery: "Murder by the Homeplace" set immediately following the end of "Back to the Homeplace" with characters from that novel having secondary roles in the Mystery novel. Finally, looking the future, I will continue to develop content for "The Homeplace Series" as it moves to a transmedia platform, starting with the existing wiki which will continue to be developed in association with my daughter, Dr. Annette Lamb, and her and Lamb Learning Group activities. We are also considering an affiliation with an app developer (in the future) to provide multiple transmedia entry points to "The Homeplace Series" content that will continue to be expanded and developed on multiple platforms. ["The Homeplace Forever" - the third in the original trilogy - set in 2006, continues in development, along with stories across all the years from 1833 to the present, and into the future.]

6. Work will continue, off and on, on the non-fiction family history on our Revolutionary War ancestor, Sergeant Major William KINNICK. He is my 5th great-grandfather as well as the 3rd great-grandfather of 1939 Heisman Trophy winner Nile KINNICK, for whom KINNICK Stadium at the University of Iowa is named. There is surely some promotion value there to exploit. I will also continue to research and write on issues related to a non-fiction family history book on my great-grandfather Michael Smith. I am still developing alternative approaches to making this project most effective. These two are unlikely to be finished 2013; but they are still active projects.

7. My actual genealogy work, other that writing for my blogs and elsewhere, largely revolves around projects that come up from time to time from 1) contacts from and with cousins, 2) cooperatively assisting my wife on her several projects, and 3) providing support to our youngest daughter, Arrion, on her family history projects - primarily related to her annual trips to Europe. Arrion visited our Smith family ancestral ground of Alsace (Colmer, France - my paternal line) and Black Forest area in 2012 and a possible visit to Denmark (my maternal grandmother was born in Denmark) in 2013.

Happy Reading! ;-)

Note: This will be posted to each of the five blogs linked above, this year, on January 1.

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's Monday, What are You Reading? American Lion: Andrew Jackson

It's Monday, What are You Reading? 
American Lion: Andrew Jackson

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, by Jon Meacham

This is the forty-forth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

I had felt this book to big and thick to read, when it came out. My wife got it for me on my Kindle, and it is now my Kindle reading book. Going very well. As I've said before, some books are better on Kindle, some books better in print; for me, at least!  ;-)

I really liked the way Meacham treated Thomas Jefferson - the same seems to apply to Jackson! ;-)

Book Description of American Lion on Amazon:

Andrew Jackson, his intimate circle of friends, and his tumultuous times are at the heart of this remarkable book about the man who rose from nothing to create the modern presidency. Beloved and hated, venerated and reviled, Andrew Jackson was an orphan who fought his way to the pinnacle of power, bending the nation to his will in the cause of democracy. Jackson’s election in 1828 ushered in a new and lasting era in which the people, not distant elites, were the guiding force in American politics. Democracy made its stand in the Jackson years, and he gave voice to the hopes and the fears of a restless, changing nation facing challenging times at home and threats abroad. To tell the saga of Jackson’s presidency, acclaimed author Jon Meacham goes inside the Jackson White House. Drawing on newly discovered family letters and papers, he details the human drama–the family, the women, and the inner circle of advisers–that shaped Jackson’s private world through years of storm and victory.

One of our most significant yet dimly recalled presidents, Jackson was a battle-hardened warrior, the founder of the Democratic Party, and the architect of the presidency as we know it. His story is one of violence, sex, courage, and tragedy. With his powerful persona, his evident bravery, and his mystical connection to the people, Jackson moved the White House from the periphery of government to the center of national action, articulating a vision of change that challenged entrenched interests to heed the popular will–or face his formidable wrath. The greatest of the presidents who have followed Jackson in the White House–from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt to FDR to Truman–have found inspiration in his example, and virtue in his vision.

Jackson was the most contradictory of men. The architect of the removal of Indians from their native lands, he was warmly sentimental and risked everything to give more power to ordinary citizens. He was, in short, a lot like his country: alternately kind and vicious, brilliant and blind; and a man who fought a lifelong war to keep the republic safe–no matter what it took.

Jon Meacham in American Lion has delivered the definitive human portrait of a pivotal president who forever changed the American presidency–and America itself.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)