This adventure in journalistic history was unlike my other one in two ways. Civil War & Bloody Peace (CWBP) took me twenty years, from beginning to publication, and I was on the road, a lot, going to all the places at which Henry served to dig out primary information to find out why he was sent where he was sent. From Lincoln to Trump (FLT) took not even a year from beginning to publication, because I relied on information commonly available. CWBP was an exercise in objectivity - I had only to demonstrate why Henry said what he said late in life. I had no other agenda. But FLT was written more with subjective objectivity. I am not alone in disdaining Trump as president; historians overall call him the worst president, and Lincoln the best. I felt that made such interesting bookends for everything that came between them that I wanted to find out what the heck happened to the Republican Party from Lincoln to Trump.
I'm going to be presenting on both books in September, so I'm going to see if I can hash out a kind of rough draft here.
CWBP was a book that I submitted for publication for about 10 years before I gave up and self-published. Well, I couldn't let all that research go to waste, right? Reasons given by publishers for not picking it up varied. Mostly, the lack of my being able to demonstrate that this wasn't Henry's personal story - because he was a nobody, right? But that his orders, where he was going as a non-comm during his 20 years in the army at such a pivotal time in history, I felt could teach us a lot about our history, in a very real way. And that it does.
I queried a few publishers on FLT but I knew that I wanted to get it out before the election, because I planned to fill with what happened during every presidency that led to today. No publisher who responded was able to handle such a quick turnaround. So again, I had no choice but to self-publish.
This means, of course, that I now have a second book that is not validated by any other historian. And yes, that bothers me. I sent CWBP to my thesis advisor and he hasn't responded since receiving it. I asked for a review from someone on campus. No response. I asked one of my thesis committee members to have someone he knows read FLT before it goes out. Again, no response. I don't know why. And not knowing feels like - when your favorite pet cat disappears one day and never comes back. You never get closure.
Anyway, FLT was a cheaper process. I depended on some very factual books to come up with some of the main events in each president in this survey. From there I found some controversy and dug out further information to more fully develop each of the issues in the book.
For CWBP, I used a more day to day approach, or fort to fort, and showed what happened at each location that sent Henry there, and kept him there. He was in the Civil War starting in 1862, and then went west - a total of five enlistments, more than any other soldier I found in this research, until medical discharge in 1884.
In FLT, I was also able to use research I'd been compiling for quite some time on the assassinations in the '60s. It seems that people don't understand how transformational that period was in our society - and I think that with Trump we're facing another transformational period. But as I put this book togather I found something in the '60s that never occurred to me before. Is it possible the Democrats of the South - Dixiecrats - killed JFK?
So you don't just see Republican presidents, although the focus IS on the GOP. I also do brief comparisons on issues of economy, war, racism and more to Democratic presidents. Because somewhere along the way, the two parties flipped. But did they? I was surprised by the answer, and you will be, too.
The seed for FLT was planted in CWBP. In that book I demonstrated how the Republicans gave up on black rights. But I was only scratching the surface, because the book had to have an ending, and I chose Henry's death in 1916. What I learned in FLT made this country's character so clear. When Trump says "make America great again," he really does mean a kind of re-segregation, and dominance, that he felt made us great once before. He is a direct response to Obama's reaching out to the world for healing after the divisive presidency of GW Bush and his Iraq war. But his election is so much more than that, as you'll see.
Both books depended on the digging out of facts. You cannot rely on the opinion of others. If you find someone's opinion, and he makes it sound like fact, you have to dig further. While putting FLT together, the libraries closed down. I had to rely on books I could buy, and that I had in my library, and whatever I could find online. But I don't rely on opinions.
You will find controversy. I talk about who could have assassinated civil rights leaders like the Kennedys and King; not lone assassins. I include who was freemason throughout this history, but then I also include a discussion of freemasonry in the appendix. I open things up further with my own commentary throughout, something I did not do in CWBP. But I wanted to make sure readers did not miss some of the connections I saw throughout the book.
I finally finished up with some more books from the library. In all FLT is an amazing resource. Give it a try. Help validate this work, so that more people take a chance on it. I will use any reviews in my presentation in September.
Thanks for reading.