August, 2012

As you may recall, last month, I announced that I had decided to do a book on the role played by James A. Garfield in the Civil War. Before deciding to do so, I polled a number of the professional historians that I know, asking them whether they thought that the project was worthy and whether they thought that it would spark interest in the topic. I asked about 10. Nine answered me. All were unanimous in their support, which prompted me to decide to run with the project.

One of the professionals whom I polled was Prof. Brooks Simpson of Arizona State University. I’ve known Brooks for nearly 15 years now, and have long wanted to do a project with him. In fact, we’ve discussed ideas for projects previously, but never could find one that seemed appropriate. Of all of the people I polled, Brooks had the most good suggestions for me for the Garfield project, so I asked him if he might be interested in doing the project with me. To my excitement, Brooks said yes.

And so, I am pleased and proud to announce that Brooks and I are going to collaborate to do the study of Garfield in the Civil War. Brooks really understand the nuances of Garfield’s political career during the war, including his complicated relationship with U. S. Grant, and will be able to bring insight that I would not be able to bring to bear, even though I was a political science major once upon a time. I’m really looking forward to getting a chance to work with someone whom I have always respected and admired (even if he is a New York Islanders fan), and I think it’s going to make for an excellent project.

A couple of weeks ago, two friends and I toured the sites associated with Garfield’s campaign in eastern Kentucky in the winter and spring of 1861-1862 in preparation for doing this project, and I will post some photos from that day soon. We saw some sites that few visit, which made it all the more interesting.

The ordeal with my parents that I related here in April has finally come to its sad but inevitable conclusion. At the end of June, and left with no choice, I had to place both of my parents in the secure dementia unit of a nursing home, and we then had the unhappy and incredibly difficult task of closing out their home of 37 years, a miserable job that we completed this past weekend. The numerous and exhausting trips to Pennsylvania are the reason for the lack of any posts here over the past month. Saying goodbye forever to the last remaining vestige of one’s childhood is not a fun thing to do, but it’s now behind me and I can move forward now with the knowledge that they are safe and being well cared for by some truly remarkable angels on earth. Give me a few more days to regain my perspective and get some rest, and I will be ready to get back to work. I’m looking forward to starting this next chapter in my life, and getting back to the research and writing work that means so much to me.

I will keep you advised as to the progress of our Garfield project as it proceeds. And I thank you for your support and patience with me as I weathered this ordeal.

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