A special book, person or place has the power to transport us into the past, to times and moments long before we were born. You may reach the last page of a biography and mourn a person who died a century ago, or meet a fictional character so vivid, you become lifelong friends. The History Author Show vaults beyond the usual layman's questions, and offers a show by history lovers for history lovers. Enjoy fascinating guests who write history in their daily lives, including award-winning writers from publishers like Simon & Schuster. These are the people who build time machines with their words. New episodes every two weeks.
Candice Millard – River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile
May 16, 2022 - Today, mapping the source of the Nile River is as easy as a Google search, but the mystery intrigued humanity for centuries. In this episode, best-selling author Candice Millard introduces us to the men who won a race worthy of Indiana Jones in River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile.
We last met up with Candice Millard to discuss her book, Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill. Regular listeners have also heard me praise Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine & the Murder of a President as well as The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey.
For more, visit CandiceMillard.com or follow her @Candice_Millard on Twitter and like her at Facebook.
Thanks to Todd Arrington, who we met up with to chat about his book, The Last Lincoln Republican: The Presidential Election of 1880. Todd is site manager at James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, Ohio.
Music credit: "Temple of Endless Sands" by Darren Curtis.
Sheila Myers – The Truth of Who You Are (a Novel)
May 2, 2022 - Imagine you're struggling to feed your family during the Great Depression, and you cause a tragic accident at work. Do you risk your precious job at a time of sky-high unemployment and breadlines, or let someone else take the fall for what you did wrong? We'll meet a young man who faced that dilemma with award-winning novelist Sheila Myers who brings us The Truth of Who You Are.
In this based-on-a-true-story work of historical fiction, we meet Ben Taylor, whose decision stateside with the New Deal's Civilian Conservation Corps follows him from Great Smoky Mountains all way to the France during the Battle of the Bulge and back.
Sheila Myers is a college professor of ecology in Upstate New York. Her previous work of historical fiction earned the 2017 Best Book of Fiction by the Adirondack Center for Writing.
Sheila's Durant Family Saga followed Union Pacific Railroad tycoon Dr. Thomas C. Durant, and his children, from the 1870s throughout their boom-and-bust lives. We interviewed her about each book in the trilogy.
Book 1: Imaginary Brightness
Book 2: Castles in the Air
Book 3: The Night Is Done
Visit our guest at SheilaMyers.com, or on Twitter and Facebook.
Special thanks to Rob Hilliard for submitting a question for the interview. You can hear my conversation with Rob about his book, A Season on the Allegheny, in our archives wherever you enjoy the show.
Deborah Cohen – Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took on a World at War
April 18, 2022 - If a group of World War Two-era journalists invited you out for drinks, ready to open up about their interviews with everyone from Gandhi and Neru to Mussolini and Hitler, what would say? Readers get that opportunity with Deborah Cohen who brings us Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took on a World at War.
In this episode, our time machine welcomes aboard journalists John Gunther, H. R. Knickerbocker, Vincent Sheean, and Dorothy Thompson, who have do their job before and during the war, confronting the likes of Hitler and Mussolini, but also isolationist forces who think dictators might not be so bad.
Deborah Cohen is the author of The War Come Home: Disabled Veterans in Britain and Germany, 1914-1939, Household Gods: The British and Their Possessions, and Family Secrets. She is also the Richard W. Leopold Professor of History at Northwestern University, focusing on modern Europe. Visit her at DeborahCohen.com or @DeborahACohen on Twitter.
Special thanks to Cara Robertson for sending this great book our way. In our archives, you can listen to Cara chatting about her book The Trial of Lizzie Borden: A True Story.
Meriel Schindler – The Lost Café Schindler: One Family, Two Wars, and the Search for Truth
April 4, 2022 - What would you do if your estranged father died, leaving behind piles of Nazi-era documents related to the fate of your family's café in the world wars? In this episode, our time machine travels back to the inter-war years, to meet a Jewish family rocked by the turmoil of Austria-Hungary and them Germany coming out on the losing side.
Our guide on this journey is Meriel Schindler who brings us The Lost Café Schindler: One Family, Two Wars, and the Search for Truth. After her father Kurt's death, Meriel was left to confront their broken relationship, and untangle the truth behind the tales he spun -- stories of an extraordinary family tree featuring Franz Kafka, Oskar Schindler, the Jewish doctor who treated Hitler’s and his mother, and others. Only one thing was concrete: The café that the Nazis stole when her family was forced to flee.
Find our guest at MerielSchindler.com, or at @MerielSchindler on Twitter.
Special thanks investigative journalist Gerald Posner for submitting a video question on anti-Semitism for The Lost Café Schindler, and also providing a blurb for the book. Gerald has done three previous interviews about his books:
God’s Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican
Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America
Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK
We also cite my conversation with Gerald's wife and writing partner, Trisha, and her book The Pharmacist of Auschwitz: The Untold Story .
Mike Guardia – Skybreak: The 58th Fighter Squadron in Desert Storm
March 21, 2022 - Who were the young American pilots who launched their fighter jets into the wild blue yonder during the first Gulf Wear, aiming to pry tiny Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's fist? In this episode, we'll travel back to January 17, 1991, as Desert Shield transforms into Desert Storm high in the skies over Iraq.
Once there, we'll meet those American airmen -- and the teams on the ground that kept their F-15C's flying against Soviet MiG-29 Fulcrums -- with internationally acclaimed military historian and U.S. Army veteran Mike Guardia who brings us Skybreak: The 58th Fighter Squadron in Desert Storm.
Mike Guardia served six years on active duty as an Armor Officer and is widely praised for his acclaimed biography Hal Moore: A Soldier Once…and Always, chronicling the life of LTG Harold G. Moore, whose leadership you may recall from the Mel Gibson's portrayal in the film We Were Soldiers. Mike has been nominated for the Army Historical Foundation’s Distinguished Book Award not once but twice. In 2021, he was named Author of the Year by the Military Writers Society of America.
Visit our guest at MikeGuardia.com, or on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Eva Stachniak – The School of Mirrors
March 7, 2022 - Best-selling author Eva Stachniak joins us to discuss her latest novel, The School of Mirrors. "During the reign of Louis XV, impoverished but lovely teenage girls from all over France are sent to a discreet villa in the town of Versailles. Overseen by the King’s favorite mistress, Madame de Pompadour, they will be trained as potential courtesans for the King. ... The students at this 'School of Mirrors' rarely ask questions, and when Louis tires of them, they are married off to minor aristocrats or allowed to retire to one of the more luxurious nunneries."
It's a rich and enjoyable story, focusing not just on the ribald details, but on the relationship between a mother and her daughter, who succeeds despite the many obstacles to women at the time, but longs to know the truth about her father's identity.
Eva Stachniak was born in Wrocław, Poland, moved to Canada in 1981, and has worked for Radio Canada International and Sheridan College, where she taught English and Humanities. She is the bestselling author of The Winter Palace, Empress of the Night, Necessary Lies, and Garden of Venus, in addition to The Chosen Maiden.
You can find our interview on The Chosen Maiden in our archives. I was also honored that Eva asked me to MC an event and Q&A at the Kosciuszko Center in Manhattan some years back. You should absolutely check them out if you're interested in preserving the history of this dual American and Polish hero.
Visit our guest at EvaStachniak.com or find her at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Thank you Dean Karayanis and all of your guests for keeping me company and educated during my work travels. Working long hours and then driving long hours is not conducive to reading a book. This format provides an opportunity to not only hear the content of the book but also learn about the author. Looking forward to more episodes.
Enjoyable and informative
I tried to avoid listening to this podcast. It sounded so drearily educational that I could not find it attractive. I was sooo wrong. This is a fascinating podcast, made more so by excellent interviews of people who are clearly expert and enthusiastic about their subjects.
I have bought several books after listening to their authors.
I do not think Dean knows how to do a bad job. I hope he never figures out how to do so.
A great conversation
Dean does a great job. He's prepared and entices his guests to be interesting, which they always are, even if you weren't interested in the topic going in. One of the bes subscription choices you can make.