Book Trailer For Madam President

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Why Publishers Drop Authors

It's simple. The authors book don't sell. It used to be publishers would bring authors along. This ended about thirty years ago if not more. Now if you do not sell then you don't get another book contract. You are simply done with that publisher. The author may kill him or herself for the book only to be unceremoniously dropped. The author then has to find another home but this is easier said than done.

So that leaves marketing. If you dont' market then you will surely be dropped. Hats off to the authors whose books magically sell without doing a thing. But for  the rest of us mortals people need to be informed a book has just been published. It is a reality of the internet age that our attention spans have grown shorter with a plethora of entertainment vying for our nanosecond focus. But that doesn't mean you can throw up your hands.

Once upon a time in a land far away authors like Fitzgerald and Hemingway sipped martinis and absinthe on the West Bank while waiting for their royalty checks. This then is the literary fantasy but then Fitzgerald at the time of his death was barely selling and Hemingway was a master at media manipulation. So if you look at it that way, maybe the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Madam President

Why Do So Few People Know About Our First Woman President?

That's easy. History is written by the victors. And the victors were men. They wrote the history in 1921 the year the Edith Wilson Presidency ended. And for the next fifty years they held the Woodrow Wilson legacy together. Edith Wilson wrote a memoir in 1939 that claimed she was only a "steward" but never President. She too was committed to Woodrow Wilson's legacy to the point her relatives were never allowed to ask her about the President. That door was shut.

And so our First Woman President skirted the pages of history. It was always that lurking factoid. Something about a President who had a massive stroke and his wife stepped then stepped in. But it never got traction and the books that came out danced around the issue. A later history of Edith and Woodrow went so far as to claim Edith Wilson was power mad and grabbed power but never recognized her for running the White House from 1919 to 1921.

The government finally recognized what she did on a website that summarizes the first ladies. On .gov there is a reference to Edith that simply says she ran the Executive Branch for two years. It isn't much, but it is a beginning.

Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson

We Could Sure Use A Teddy Roosevelt Today

We could sure use Teddy Roosevelt about now. Think of a man who just lost his wife and child and who heads West to remake himself. He is then plunged into the Badlands and ends up facing down a badman in a saloon who calls him four eyes and demands he buy him a drink. Teddy Roosevelt is small and just there from New York and yet he stands up and knocks out the man cold.

Or when he goes to cross a river that is overflowing with ice and moving swiftly. Everyone tells him not to do it but he takes his horse and tries to cross it anyway and ends up being knocked off his horse and managing to cross the river anyway and not freeze to death. Or when he lassos another man and saves him from a swiftly moving river and hauls him to the shore.

Or when he goes after three  men who have stolen from him and follows them all across the Badlands and then captures them and takes them all the way back to the sheriff. Or when he faces down five Indians by himself and manages to hold them off and escape. What is it? Courage. Grit. Destiny. Fortitude. Morality. Take your pick.  But Teddy Roosevelt embodied the man who did what he believed was right regardless of the cost.

We could sure use a Teddy Roosevelt now.

Forging a President How the Wild West Created Teddy Roosevelt

Monday, April 24, 2017

How the Wild West Remade Teddy Roosevelt

In 1890, the superintendent of the U.S. Census Bureau declared the American frontier finally closed. Frederick Jackson Turner affirmed this and claimed that the frontier experience, more than any other, had shaped America’s character; it had given the pioneer “a new field of opportunity, a gate of escape from the bondage of the past.” Teddy Roosevelt went to the Badlands of the Dakotas at the tail end of the Wild West in 1883 to recover from the death of his wife and his mother.  The asthmatic with thick spectacles who stepped off the train in the town of Little Missouri bore little resemblance to the man who would return years later thick of chest and ready to tackle the world. He came back as the Teddy Roosevelt we now recognize.

The West remade Roosevelt, just as it had remade the country. Basically lawless and churchless, the West offered freedom unbounded if you were tough enough to take it. As he later wrote, “For cowboy work there is no need of special traits and special training, and young Easterners should be sure of themselves before trying it: the struggle for existence is very keen in the far West, and it is no place for men who lack the ruder, coarser virtues and physical qualities. . . . ”This held great appeal for young Roosevelt, who would find the essence of America in the frozen and baking terrain of the Badlands. Here the character of America presented itself to Roosevelt, and he essentially became that character. The West delivered this one-hundred-and-twenty-five-pound man, this “dude,” a great adventure: he faced down gunmen, grizzly bears, thieves, rustlers, unscrupulous ranchers, ruthless outlaws, and Indians. He had the breath knocked out of him by overturned horses, cracked a
rib, dislocated a shoulder, and nearly froze to death more than once, getting lost in the hell that is the Badlands—all while fighting chronic asthma and ignoring a physician’s admonition to protect his weak heart and lead the sedentary life of a recluse.

To recover from the twin blows of losing both his mother and his wife on the same day, and in his quest to find his way again, Theodore Roosevelt would push himself to the point where his broken heart would either heal or stop forever. The West was just the place for such a contest.

Forging A President How the Wild West Created Teddy Roosevelt

Friday, April 14, 2017

Teddy Roosevelt Facing Down a Grizzly Bear

Roosevelt and Merrifield spent the long night with fingers on their rifle triggers, but the bear did not come back. The next morning Merrifield picked up the bear’s trail over the pine needles and moss and led them through the woods. The hunters breathed in the cold, clean scent of pine needles as they crept forward. Roosevelt was following Merrifield “when in the middle of the thicket we crossed a breastwork of fallen logs, and Merrifield, who was leading, passed by the upright stem of a great pine,” Roosevelt wrote later.6 “As soon as he was by it, he sank suddenly on one knee, turning half around, his face fairly aflame with excitement; and as I strode past him, with my rifle at the ready, there, not ten steps off, was the great bear, slowly rising from his bed among the young spruces.”

 To Merrifield’s surprise, Roosevelt walked past him briskly. The nine-foot, twelve-hundred-pound grizzly had already heard them and was back on his haunches, baring his needle-sharp teeth. “He had heard us but apparently hardly knew exactly where or what we were,” Roosevelt continued, “for he reared up on his haunches sideways to us, then he saw us and dropped down again on all fours, the shaggy hair on his neck and shoulders seeming to bristle as he turned toward us. As he sank down to his forefeet, I had raised the rifle.”8 Roosevelt’s heart was pounding and his mouth was dry as he faced down the fiercest creature in the West. He lifted his rifle, feeling his heart, telling himself that this was the moment; this was where the man confronted himself.

If he missed, he would be dead. Roosevelt aimed between the fierce gleaming eyes and fired. “Doubtless my face was pretty white,” he later wrote his sister, “but the blue barrel was as steady as a rock as I glanced along it until I could see the top of the bead fairly between his two sinister-looking eyes . . . ”

Forging A President How the Wild West Created Teddy Roosevelt

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Teddy Roosevelt's First Time West

Commander Gorringe had decided at the last minute not to go, and this left Teddy Roosevelt to hunt buffalo alone.  When he switched to the St. Paul Express for the twenty-four-hundred mile journey, Roosevelt wired his mother, Mittie, that he felt “like a fighting cock again” as he left the United States for the Dakota Territory for the first time.

The darkness masked the geological malformations of the Badlands passing by his window, with its glowing lignite fires and ancient waters that had carved stone, blasted gullies, and formed rivers. Then Roosevelt was blinking in the darkness of two a.m. after the warmth of the Pullman car—a dapper young man who stepped off the train directly into the wet sagebrush of Little Missouri in the Dakota Territory. The train rolled away, leaving white smoke and the train whistle’s lament. Roosevelt breathed heavily, his asthmatic wheeze not unlike the huffing steam locomotive fading into the night. His new boots were stiff, his hat tight, his collar itchy. The new clothes he had bought in New York felt all wrong, but they were the latest in Western outdoor apparel.

There was no sound save for the yips of coyotes out in the darkness beyond the town. The town wasn’t much. Little Missouri had come of age rapidly when the railroad arrived and would die just as quickly. Such was the boom and bust of railroad towns in the West. Roosevelt stared at a dilapidated sign reading “PYRAMID PARK HOTEL,” behind which slouched a recently painted white structure leaning toward the street. Roosevelt hoisted his Sharps rifle and duffel bag and began to walk in the cool darkness. A coyote howled in the distance again; then he heard the thin musical note of running water. Roosevelt saw moonlight glimmering on the Little Missouri River, whose waters whispered softly in the night. The train had since faded into the darkness, heading for the heart of the Badlands. Teddy Roosevelt was in the middle of nowhere with a recommendation to see a man who might be able to help him.

Forging A President How the Wild West Created Teddy Roosevelt

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Day Teddy Roosevelt's Wife and Mother Died

Theodore Roosevelt clutched the two telegrams, shifting uncomfortably in the train—leaning forward, tapping his foot, trying to hurry on the frustratingly slow steam engine. Roosevelt was a man with a beautiful wife, a new baby, a brilliant political career, and the patronage and wealth of an aristocratic family behind him. Now, all this seemed in danger. The young assemblyman from Albany was making his way 145 miles south to Manhattan, where his wife and his mother both lay dying. On a clear day the train ride from Albany to Manhattan took five hours, but a heavy fog had been hovering over New York for days, seeming to portend what lay ahead for him. Teddy Roosevelt tapped his foot impatiently and stared at the first telegram. You have a baby girl. Congratulations. The second telegram told a much different story. Come at once. Mother and Alice gravely ill. The light went out for Roosevelt that day as he ran for the train. The man who valued action above all else could now do nothing but wait to be delivered to destiny.

Roosevelt stared out the window. The fog reminded him of when he was a boy and he would sleep sitting straight up because his asthma squeezed his small chest. On such nights, his father would take him out in his carriage. They would ride like the wind through the streets of New York. “Open your mouth Teddy! Open your mouth!” his father instructed. “Let the air in!” And, as in a primitive oxygen ventilator, he would open his mouth and feel the cool air go down his throat and inflate his lungs. The image of a man frantically driving a black, rain-slicked carriage through the night streets of New York, and a boy hanging off the side with his mouth open to the heavens—it was all his father could do, after walking up and down the hallway with him all night. The rich man’s son could get no air, and his father could only admonish the boy to open his mouth while he sped the horses savagely along. “Faster! Faster! For my son must breathe!” 

Now the train was pulling into Grand Central Station. The young dandy ran for his home in a fog so thick he could only grope his way toward 57th Street, where the lordly Roosevelt mansion commanded the street. Finally, he ran up the stairs to where his young wife, Alice, lay in bed. She was dying of Bright’s disease, an affliction of the kidneys causing fever, vomiting, terrible back pain, and bloody urine. They had just married the year before, but now the love of his life was dying in his arms. 

Books by William Hazelgrove