News You Can Use
Now hear this!
Hidden Maryland and Five for Freedom are both available as audiobooks. I cordially invite you to visit my Audible Author Page by clicking here. For Hidden Maryland: In Search of America in Miniature, I worked closely with reader Paul Yarish, whom I chose over 13 others who auditioned. The entire book takes about 7.5 hours of listening, but it can be heard in digestible bites, as the chapters are self-contained set pieces and profiles. Working with Paul was an education for me. I reviewed each chapter as he completed them and was able to advise on pronunciation of names of people and places. I think you’ll enjoy the end result.
The Eugene L. Meyer Papers
are in 16 curated boxes (23 linear feet) now available for researchers as part of the University of Maryland’s Maryland and Historical Collections. The “finding aid” for the collection is here. The Archives plans to include a report in its newsletter. I have previously donated my “papers” (which sounds really pretentious, as opposed to, say, old files) to the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum (6.22 linear feet), and the “Eugene L. Meyer Collection” (4 cubic feet) to the Montgomery County Historical Society, now known as Montgomery History. I’m pleased that these files from my long career in journalism are open for public inspection and research.
The Story of “The Rag“
In 1991, I wrote a front page story for the Washington Post about a gadfly publisher in Southern Maryland and his tabloid newspaper St. Mary’s Today, known locally as “The Rag.” Officials were boycotting the publication and sought to suppress its reports of government corruption and worse. It was the paper they loved to hate, and my story inspired Good Morning America to feature it. When sheriff’s deputies seized all copies of the paper from vending machines across the county, editor and publisher Ken Rossignol sued. He had a powerful ally in Ben Bradlee, the Washington Post’s executive editor, who owned a home in St. Mary’s County. Bradlee backed his court challenge, and “the Rag” prevailed in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Ken’s book is still in print and available on Amazon. It’s called “The Night They Stole the News. St. Mary’s Today – The Story of THE RAG!” To learn more, and to order a copy, click here.
Rate and Review
Dear regular (or irregular) readers, I have a modest request: If you liked “Hidden Maryland: In Search of America in Miniature,” please rate (and review) it on Amazon. Go to https://amzn.to/41CRZEP The Amazon algorithms give top billing to those with lots of ratings and reviews. My goal is not only to sell, sell, sell but also to share, share, share the stories contained within the book that Washingtonian magazine said is filled with “undertold stories” and is “packed with fun info about the state.” If you loved or liked it, please say so!
It’s been a busy spring for the author of Hidden Maryland: In Search of America in Miniature and Five for Freedom: The African American Soldiers in John Brown’s Army.
On March 14, I spoke by Zoom to the Chester Co. (Pennsylvania) History Center about Osborne Perry Anderson, one of the five, leading to the revelation that the sole survivor and the man who’d written the only insider account of the 1859 raid on Harper’s Ferry, was also a father.
Another evening, another Zoom two nights later, on March 16, with the Potomac Valley Citizens, on Hidden Maryland. Then, on Monday, March 20, I shared Five for Freedom in person at the St. Michaels, Md. public library. On Zoom, again, I spoke to the Lifespring Saugerties Adult Learning Community in Ulster County, New York, about my past, present and the future of journalism. Again in person, on Monday, April 17, I shared stories and images from Hidden Maryland with the hearty members of the Gaithersburg Area Citizens and Newcomers.
I’ve been invited to share Five for Freedom at the Easton, Md. Public Library, date TBD, and to speak at Harpers Ferry in October around the 164th anniversary of the John Brown raid.
On May 13, I will be moderating a panel “Politics and History: Even Non-Fiction Needs a Story,” at the 10th Washington Writers Conference, at the North Bethesda Marriott. I’m honored to be leading this discussion with three distinguished best-selling authors: The New York Times‘ Peter Baker (The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021, co-written with Susan Glasser), historian Evan Thomas (Road to Surrender: Three Men and the Countdown to the End of World War II), and novelist and former Marine Elliott Ackerman (The Fifth Act: America’s End in Afghanistan). For those interested in attending the conference, which features speed dating with literary agents and many other panels, registration is still open:
A Madman’s Will
The following is from my recent review in the Washington Independent Review of Books.
Was John Randolph — the fiery and erratic U.S. senator from Virginia who sometimes believed in abolition and sometimes didn’t — a rational man? Or was he legally insane when he granted freedom to his 383 enslaved people? That’s the question at the heart of Gregory May’s intriguing A Madman’s Will, which adds fresh scholarship to what Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal once called “the American Dilemma.” But it’s not the only question. Of equal and more abiding importance: What happened to the newly emancipated after they reached the promised land of Ohio, an alleged “free” state? Nothing good, it turns out.
To read the full review, click here.
Stolen Silver (Update)
“Stolen Silver: Nazi Plunder and the Unfinished Quest for Restitution,” the Winter 2022 cover story of B’nai B’rith Magazine, where I’ve been the editor since 2009, has taken on a life of its own. Matthias Weniger, curator of the Bavarian National Museum, in Munich, and the force behind the restitution of items Jews were forced to turn over to the Nazi regime in 1939, was in Washington to discuss his work at the German Historical Institute and the German Embassy. Dina Gold, the very talented and tenacious reporter I assigned to the story whose book Stolen Legacy presented her own family’s quest for restitution, was present at these events and is following up. I had the honor of meeting Matthias at breakfast one morning at the home of one of the heirs, who is also a family friend and the original source of our story. Matthias was subsequently interviewed by German public radio and was personally restituting one of the stolen silver items to an heir in California before returning to Germany.
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