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Research & Thoughts

Understanding the REAL in CWBP

I watched a video about how to make a book marketing video, offered through Author's Guild. Before I get into the project, though, it's important to make sure you know what you want the book video to do. The following is what I've come up with to film. I hope it makes sense.

In the case of Civil War & Bloody Peace: Following Orders, what I want is for people to understand what the book is really about. Here's what I have on the back cover. I'd like to take this apart and share what's really in those words.

"This is the story of a soldier, but it's also the story of a country." How I envisioned this is that, by following orders, we would see why the orders where given, why Henry was sent where he was, so we can understand why things happened the way they did. And I think I accomplished that in several areas – related to the draft, to the Little Bighorn, and to Wounded Knee, among others. Most of the time, however, you will find yourself walking along with him, seeing what he saw.

"In this pivotal look at our nation's history, Following Orders uncovers the attitudes of those who gave the orders." Pivotal is an important word. It means turning history on its ear. It makes taking you where no one else has before. And the word "attitude" got me in trouble while writing my master's thesis. But unless you know why something happened, you won't understand how we can change the future.

"Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Custer, and more. Find out what they were really like as you explore U.S. History starting in the Civil War, through political reconstruction of our country and into the "Wild West" of the Indian wars." The focus is more on Grant than anyone else, because of his role in all of Henry's orders, first as general and then as president. Reconstruction is less the focus, but more as how it affected the post-war years. Henry does spend a few years in Kentucky, however, protecting blacks from the KKK so they can vote for Grant.

"The focus is on the people who lived this history in a way you were never taught in school." That's an important line to me. I hated history in high school, and from what I understand, history is still being taught in the most boring way – learn your facts, kids. No, they need to learn about the people. They need to learn the why. That's why I suggest using this book in high school. I believe that, when we know the truth about our history, we not only learn to forgive, but we face the future with the understanding that our attitude really does matter.

"This is an attempt to get at the real and objective truth of military orders between 1862 and 1884, and beyond, by following a regular army private's orders during those years he served, more than any other non-comm in history found in this research." Real and Objective Truth. I had no bias in writing this. I went everywhere he served and dug into primary records. That's how I was able to find details no other historian has shared. I didn't seek to expound my viewpoint. I wanted only to show what happened.

"You will be walking through the real records of history, with the people who made the US what it is today." You'll hear other lesser names, too, but people who are just as important to our history.

"Who Henry was is not important. What he learned made all the difference." What do I mean by this? Henry came from Germany. In the late 1800s a writer named Karl May wrote about American Indian cultures in a very pro-positive spirit. But Germans overall were kinder to the Indians because of their own tribal past. I was able to demonstrate what Henry meant by "we didn't try hard to catch the Indians. We could see they were good people." 

Why did I have to self-publish? Believe me, I didn't want to. But trade publishers said try university presses and university presses said try trade publishers. Some said too broad while others said too narrow. Still others said I didn't analyze enough. But I think the history speaks for itself. I knew that, after all that work, that I had to get it out there and hoped only that it would attract readers who wanted something different in their historical diet.


I hope that's you.

End with website link and "watch for her new book," Republican WarMongers: a study in political attitude," coming soon.


WOULD LOVE YOUR OPINION - with clips and photos, would this make a good book video?

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