Long silence and much to do.

Hi folks — I’m still here, although from the dates on this blog it would appear that I’d gone away for a while. I’m starting into a new book — more on that later — and I’ve been working on some WWI-related things which have taken up the better part of the past three years of my life. That’s mostly coming together. Most time-consuming is the WWI documentary I’m writing with the talented folks at Image Werx, Mike King and Steve King. Titled The Great War and the Heartland, it looks at the American experience in the First World War as seen from the vantage-point of Dayton, Ohio. Dayton was an easy choice, and not only because it’s where I’ve lived for nearly twenty-seven years. It’s also a great stand-in for “America at large,” the USA in microcosm. It’s a pretty typical middling American city in 1914, but a little unusual, too. Wealthy, sophisticated, already a center for entrepreneurship and innovation. Dayton was, after all, the home of the Wright brothers. Maybe they did their first flight at Kitty Hawk, but they did all their work — not to mention their first practical, sustained flight — here in Dayton. Dayton was also home to John Patterson’s pathbreaking National Cash Register Company and a slew of other high-tech (by 1910s standards) firms. It had a very diverse population, with large African-American, German, Hungarian, Polish, and Lithuanian (among other) communities. When war came in 1917, some Daytonians were firmly against getting involved, and others were all for it. In short, Dayton has a little of everything. I tell my friends that Dayton has all of the stories that I’d want to tell if I were to tell the tale of America in WWI.

Interested? I hope so. If you get the chance, buckeye doughboys croppedplease check out our site for the film, which includes a video trailer on YouTube. We plan to have it all done by the spring of 2018.

And for my readers who live in or around Dayton, good news: Dayton History/Carillon Historical Park will be hosting an exhibit on the same topic, tentatively titled “Over There: Dayton and the Great War.” It’s currently being put together and will open to the public over Memorial Day Weekend 2016…only three months away. I’ll keep everyone apprised here and on my Facebook page “Dayton and the Great War.”

Something else that I’m doing now…a bit of a change of pace

Now it’s on to the Great War. It’s a move I’ve been contemplating for a while. There will be a book, though I haven’t exactly settled on precisely what form that will take (book form, obviously). Also another, different project: on my town — Dayton, Ohio — in the First World War. Maybe that’s not exactly right. Rather on the United States in the First World War, but with Dayton serving as the United States in microcosm. It’s got it all: heavy industry and high tech (National Cash Register and Dayton Wright — you know, the Wright Brothers?), conscientious objectors, militant interventionists, large German-American, Hungarian-American, and African-American populations, and a cast of memorable characters. In short, Dayton represents Middle America pretty well, with just enough that’s unique about it to make it interesting. That’s not what my next book will be about, but rather my next film. My first film, actually.

More to come, including a bit on why the First World War should matter to Americans.

In the meantime, check out my Facebook page on Dayton in the Great Warjcl in army 3.

This guy? He’s my grandpa. Not from Dayton, not even from Ohio — from New York City by way of Bridgeport, Connecticut — but I just like the photo. Taken at Camp Wadsworth, South Carolina, sometime in 1918.

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