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.
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.”