Confederates in the Attic meets The Year of Living Biblically?

My publisher, Hudson Street Press, is marketing Man of War as “Confederates in the Attic meets The Year of Living Biblically.” What are they about, you ask?

Confederates is Tony Horwitz‘ exploration of present day (it was written in 1998, so not so present day) attitudes toward the Civil War. In it, he spends some very memorable chapters with a hardcore reenactor named Robert Lee Hodge. Hodge even graces the cover.

Horwitz’ most recent book, Midnight Rising, is about the abolitionist, John Brown. Here’s a clip of him reading from that book:

In Biblically, Jacobs spends a year following the rules of the Bible. I haven’t read it, but it was wildly popular-and a really good idea.

Jacobs and I both like to immerse ourselves in our work, grow unsightly facial hair and name our books/chapters after movies. In fact, every chapter in Man of War is a play on a movie/TV/radio title. (Par example, chapters 1-3, are: “Sleepless in Stalingrad,” “The Way We Weren’t” and “I, Carolus.”) Name the historical era that corresponds to each and I’ll send you my beard clippings.

Here’s Jacobs talking about Biblically:

And another video in which he talks about his latest book, Drop Dead Healthy:

It’s nice to be compared to two best-selling authors, but frankly I’ve always looked up to this guy.

 

At the LA Times Festival of Books

I had a great time this past Saturday at the LA Times Festival of Books. The day started off early at Vroman’s Bookstore where Ashley Ream, author of Losing Clementine, and I supplied the “In-Transit Entertainment” on one of the buses the store had chartered to the festival. Ashley is a delight and looks pretty darn adorable in a beret.

After I arrived (with wife and mom in tow), I signed some books for Vroman’s behind their tent. Sorry about giving you the finger in this photo. It was completely unintentional.

Here I am transporting a stack of Man of Wars from overstock shelving to the table where I’d later sign them. But I wasn’t just moving paper. I was trying to give customers the impression that the book is so good they have to buy ten copies. Also note my massive biceps. Lifting hardcover books is a great way to save on those ridiculous gym membership fees.

Interesting placement for MOW. One friend observed that I was in a “Hitchens sandwich.” Another friend former friend commented that Hitchens’ books look a lot wordier than mine. Likely because I don’t know more than seven polysyllabic words.

Later that day I returned to Pasadena and saw this quote by some guy named Benjamin Franklin. I liked it so much I took a photograph of it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Kirkus Reviews Man of War

An amusing and insightful memoir about the wacky world of historical reenactments.

Living in Los Angeles, the past was never a subject that writer, radio producer and actor Schroeder spent much time thinking about, preferring to immerse himself in the never-ending stream of current events and activities of modern life. However, his perspective changed after attending the “largest multicultural living history event west of the Mississippi,” which featured 75 groups including Romans, Vikings and Civil War and Revolutionary War soldiers. “I found it fascinating to learn about history in a three-dimensional, interactive way,” writes Schroeder. “To ask questions of people who loved a time period so much they felt compelled to dress like one of its inhabitants.” The author’s curiosity extended to the “vibrant, eccentric subculture” of the reenactment world and feeling what participants describe as the “period rush”—the “sensation that you’ve traveled back in time.” During his travels, Schroeder lit a canon at an old fort during a reenactment of a French and Indian War battle; helped row a large wooden boat down the St. Lawrence River in an attempt to experience life in the 1700s; dressed up like a Nazi; volunteered to be a radio operator in a Vietnam war game; and reenacted the Civil War in Florida. After traveling thousands of miles, reenacting more than 10 time periods and reading dozens of books on the subject—he even staged his own historical reenactment in Los Angeles—Schroeder realized he knew less about war but more about history and contemporary America.

An entertaining read. The companionable author’s gimlet eye rarely misses the absurd or touching incidents he encountered during his explorations.

Man of War Review, Booklist

Schroeder’s charming and hilarious memoir opens with a doozy—the writer and actor has chosen the Battle of Stalingrad as his first foray into the world of war reenactment. In the Colorado plains. In winter. On the Nazi side. Schroeder is as dedicated (period dress includes haircuts after all) as he is unprepared, but he soldiers on through reenactments spanning centuries, including a Roman siege, a civil war battle, a rowboat trip down the Hudson , and a slightly disturbing Vietnam War game. He even attempts to create his own historical reenactment, which involves a 26-mile walk through Los Angeles and a stuffed cat. In between his madcap accounts of working a real cannon and wearing a wool uniform in July, Schroeder still manages to portray the idiosyncratic participants of this niche culture in a sympathetic, even flattering way. From participating in a colonial-era funeral for the real death of reenactor, to gracefully bowing out of a nineteenth-century-style baptism, Schroeder chronicles his fellow war reenactors and their battles with respect and open-mindedness, despite an occasional grumble. Sarah Hunter