‘The Founding Fortunes: How The Wealthy Paid For and Profited From America’s Revolution’

In times of war, the rich usually do get richer and the poor are still poor, yet free. Somewhat.  This well-researched telling of the well known and not so well known who put their money into biting the very hand that was feeding them. In order to have control over what they grew and who they sold to this young country and its leaders were far from perfect and often put their own interests above the country.

Source: THE FOUNDING FORTUNES: How The Wealthy Paid For and Profited From America’s Revolution by Tom Shachtman ‹ Pirate Patty Reviews ‹ Reader — WordPress.com

I love reading history, especially carefully written books that are intended for a general audience and don’t sound like PhD dissertations. So, I’m pleased to find one of my favorite book bloggers writing about a history book–and tempting me to take a look at it.

While this blogger’s reviews are usually short and sweet (or, as needed, caustic) I wish this review had had a little more depth, possibly showing a list of chapter titles and/or an example a founding father or two who got rich.

We can often give readers an idea of a novel with a review that sounds like a positive or negative elevator pitch. But I think nonfiction requires a bit more, in part because if your blog isn’t dedicated to history, most readers won’t be familiar with the authors and may need a little more pizazz to grok both the review and the book under consideration.






The 2019 National Book Awards Longlist: Nonfiction 

Of the ten authors longlisted for this year’s National Book Award for Nonfiction, only Greg Grandin has previously been a nominee, for his 2009 book, “Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Jungle City.” This year, Grandin was selected for “The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America,” which Francisco Cantú praised for its efforts “to situate today’s calls to fortify our borders in relation to the centuries of racial animus that preceded them.”

Source: The 2019 National Book Awards Longlist: Nonfiction | The New Yorker

Fiction usually outsells nonfiction in books, though the opposite is true in the magazine and newspaper world. I notice that when people online or in real life sit around and talk about the books they’re reading, it’s mostly fiction they’re mentioning.

I read a lot of nonfiction if I see that it has a long-term value. That is, I don’t care much for books about current political issues because I think they’ll soon be out of date. But history itself, I like. Or philosophy or psychological theories.

At any rate, it’s always nice to see news stories about nonfiction books because they remind us nonfiction is out there and can often be just as compelling as a novel.


Check out the free book promotion for ‘At Sea’ in the pages menu at the top of the screen.

Have you ever considered writing nonfiction?

“Selling nonfiction articles is most often done by pitching editors with article ideas that fit the publication’s needs, whether you’re pitching a magazine, newspaper, or online publication. It is key that you understand the needs of the specific publication and the audience, as well as the sections of the publication that need freelance writing.” – Writer’s Market

There’s more nonfiction published every year than fiction. Books aren’t the whole of it; there are also magazines and newspapers and a variety of online sites. So, where’s the biggest opportunity for freelancers? If you’ve been writing poetry, short stories and novels and are serious about increasing your published output and earnings, check sources like Writer’s Market for advice, lists of publications, and submission guidelines.

Here are a starling ideas list:

  • newsstandAs with fiction, you need to develop a platform. This includes ever expanding lists of articles in better and better magazines that show you can develop what editors want, get it finished on time, and have a certain level of acceptance in your specialty subjects.
  • Credentials are important. Think of this as resume material. In terms of subject matter, do you have college or technical school degrees to back up your writing, or profit and/or nonprofit work in your specialty areas? Working as a full-time staff member for a newspaper or magazine where you covered your specialty areas also helps. Unlike blogging, newsstand and prestigious quarterly publications don’t accept facts gathered from Wikipedia or a few hobbyists’ blogs as either research or solid credentials.
  • Follow the directions in the submission guidelines. Notice that many magazines are working on articles for issues that won’t be published for 6-9 months. Others have yearly themes or special themes. If these themes aren’t listed in the submission guidelines and/or aren’t obvious from reading the magazine, go to the publication’s web site and look for advertiser information. Quite often there will be a calendar there of one kind or another that lists the focus of the year’s issues.
  • If you can pitch an article, you’ll normally save time and have a better chance of acceptance even though competition for paying markets is tough. First, if you write an article and send it in unsolicited, the odds are about as bad as winning the lottery to expect that article to arrive in the mail at the same moment the editor is wishing s/he had such an article. If you send a query, including your credentials, focus/angle, and word count, you haven’t wasted time writing and researching anything that may not be what the editor needs; secondly, the editor may wish to ask you if you can write something slightly different than you’re proposing. Assignments, guaranteed or not, are always better than sending stuff in out of nowhere.
  • Knowing the magazine’s style, depth, and focus will help you deliver what makes sense to that magazine’s editor and readers. Articles are always written to address the needs of the readers, as in, what’s in it for them if they take the time to read the material? Some magazines like easy checklists; others use a lot of humor; some like a first-person approach; some want in-depth material that’s heavier in tone.

There are a lot of opportunities out there for freelance writers who develop their track records, specialties, abilities to adapt to editorial demands and deadlines, and a reputation for delivering high-quality material when promised.

If you go this route, you may never be as well-known as mainstream novelists, but you’ll make more money than writers who submit short stories and poetry alone.



Briefly Noted: ‘Downwind: a People’s History of the Nuclear West’

Downwind: a People’s History of the Nuclear West, by  Sarah Alisabeth Fox (Bison Books: November 2014), 304 pp.

downwindThe opening lines of this book begin a frightening story: “By the time five-year-old Claudia returned to her swing set, a strangely colored cloud was all that remained of her flying saucer. Years later, she leaned the apparition she had seen in the sky was not a UFO but the mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion. Her childhood home in southern Utah was about a hundred miles east of the Nevada Test Site.”

Author Sarah Fox goes on to say that the site which was operational between 1951 and 1992 was one of the world’s most heavily used nuclear weapons testing areas.

From the Publisher

Downwind is an unflinching tale of the atomic West that reveals the intentional disregard for human and animal life through nuclear testing by the federal government and uranium extraction by mining corporations during and after the Cold War.

In chilling detail Downwind brings to light the stories and concerns of these groups whose voices have been silenced and marginalized for decades in the name of “patriotism” and “national security.”

With the renewed boom in mining in the American West, Fox’s look at this hidden history, unearthed from years of field interviews, archival research, and epidemiological studies, is a must-read for every American concerned about the fate of our western lands and communities.

From the Reviewers

  • “Comprehensive and incisive, Downwind also adds heart and soul to an epic story of resilience in the aftermath of reckless arrogance. Sarah Fox gives the history of the nuclear age back to the people who had it written in their bones. The testimony she captured is both shocking and inspiring.” – Chip Ward, author of Canaries on the Rim: Living Downwind in the West
  • “Fox’s narrative forces the reader to choose whether to accept the official version of events or to believe the people who lived downwind of the nuclear tests and who worked in the uranium industry. There is no middle ground in her argument. According to Fox, repeated nuclear tests led to cancers and other diseases and to the deaths of innumerable people.” – David Mills in “Montana: The Magazine of Western History,” Winter 2015.

downwindwindpatternsIn her January 27, 2016 blog post, Day of Remembrance for Downwinders: the 65th Anniversary of the Inception of Nuclear Testing in Nevada, Fox says that there were over 900 nuclear tests at the site. Her accompanying graphic illustrates where wind patterns carried the resulting pollution.

In both the blog and the book’s introduction, she says that the proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated Heal Utah, “an environmental non-profit that promotes renewable energy and protects Utah’s public health and environment from nuclear, toxic, and dirty energy threats.”

In an era when the United States’ nuclear weapons program is supposedly a relic of the past, Downwind reminds us that the sins of the past are very much still with us even if we never again use a nuclear weapon. The book has a 4.3 review rating on Amazon with five five-star reviews and one one-star review. The one-star reviewer states that Fox’s stories are not only not new, but that her information about reported illnesses and deaths isn’t accurate. If the author has refuted this claim, I haven’t found it. It’s worth noting that a commenter believes this review is based a less-than-accurate, self-published book.

On balance, the book has stories we should know about if we haven’t heard them already. If readers follow this up by looking at the Heal Utah site, they’ll see that the past is a warning to those currently mining uranium in close proximity to the Grand Canyon.