Monday, December 22, 2014

Gotham is Dutch: my take in The Monocle

For those of you in the United Kingdom, I have an essay in The Monocle's "Forecast" edition on New York City and how its having been founded by the Dutch has determined so much about the city it has become and will continue to be. It's an idea developed further in American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, a book that should have a U.K. edition but, alas, doesn't (though the U.S. one can be bought from

There's no digital tease or online version, bless their hearts, beyond this little bit on the issue, so you'll have to actually get it in the newsstands.

Monday, December 15, 2014

When the Wabanaki ruled the waves...with European vessels

In this week's Maine Sunday Telegram you'll find my piece on a little-known aspect of early American colonial history: the dominance of the Gulf of Maine and the nearshore waters of the Maritimes by the region's native inhabitants, the Wabanaki, who include the Micmac, Passamaquoddy, Penobscots, and other nations.

The fascinating element: that the very first explorers in the Gulf of Maine encountered Indians using captured European sailing vessels with great skill, and that later colonial fishermen and mariners would find themselves on the losing end of maritime raids by Indians using both native and European vessels.

The essay is occasioned by a new and somewhat flawed academic paper in the Journal of American History -- one that tries to place the Wabanaki story within the "hot" academic field of Atlantic World studies, arguing that the tribes had geopolitical ambitions to block the creation of the British mercantile world. As you'll see in the piece, that's rather a stretch, but the topic at hand is a fascinating one.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Selling (other people's) books with some great Maine authors, Portland, Nov. 29

I hope the Americans among you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday. Our part of Maine was stricken with widespread power outages, but prior investment in a generator saved Thanksgiving dinner for twenty-some-odd at our house. It's still running out there, 36 hours after we lost power, noisily keeping the 19th century at bay.

For those with power or without who are looking for a more soulful way to participate in our country's crazed celebration of retail purchasing this weekend, Longfellow Books in Portland is hosting a genuinely fun event as part of the "buy local" effort in our region.

It all takes place tomorrow, Saturday Nov. 29. First, children's author-illustrators Chris Van Dusen and Scott Nash will be competing in a "draw off" against one another from 11 am to 1. This, I expect, will be quite amusing.

Then, from 1 to 3pm, authors Richard Russo, Monica Wood, Brock Clark, Genevieve Morgan and myself will each have some of our own handpicked titles of other people's works, and try to outsell one another in singing the praises of said titles.

Come on by; it should be a lot of fun.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Shedding light on New Brunswick's powerful, secretive Irving family

In today's Maine Sunday Telegram I write about New Brunswick's Irving family, who over four generations have built a powerful vertically-integrated conglomerate that controls much of that province's economic and informational life, including Irving Oil and forestry entity J.D. Irving (Maine's largest private landholder and the 10th largest on the planet, excluding monarchs), all of the province's English-language dailies, most of its weeklies, railroads, shipyards, oil tankers, hardware store chains, bus companies, paper mills, a refinery and an LNG terminal.

It's also an enormously secretive clan whose company spokespeople rarely respond to media requests and whose own control of the provincial media market ensures little scrutiny at home. But a new book by New Brunswick author and journalist Jacques Poitras -- Irving vs Irving -- has pulled the curtain back a bit. I talk to him about the book, the Irvings, and their sway over that province.

I last wrote about the Irvings for the Christian Science Monitor in 2008; nobody outside its newspaper division would return calls. Ditto for this 2011 Monitor story on tidal energy, which the Irvings had just pulled away from. They didn't respond to inquiries for this story either.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Talking Blackbeard on Smithsonian Channel's "Secrets", Nov. 17

The next episode of the Smithsonian Channel history documentary series "Secrets" features Blackbeard's flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge and, yes, yours truly as an on-air source.

The show, produced by the Toronto-based Pier 21 Films, also airs as "Treasures Decoded" on History Television (in Canada), Channel 4 (UK), France 5, and Australia's SBS.

You can get a taste of the show from these online clips over at Smithsonian Channel's website. The full story of Blackbeard and the golden age pirates is told in my work of history, The Republic of Pirates, a New York Times bestseller which is available in local editions all the aforementioned markets save France. It was also the inspiration for the NBC drama "Crossbones" and helped inform the making of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Speaking on Blackbeard and the Bahamas Pirates, Portland, Maine, Nov. 13

For those of you in southern Maine, I'll be speaking about Blackbeard and the great Caribbean pirate gang in Portland on November 13 at 6:30 pm.

The event -- keyed off my history, The Republic of Pirates, which was made into an NBC series starring John Malkovich -- is at Letterpress Books at the Northgate shopping plaza and is free and open to the public. A signing will follow.

Here's a preview of the talk -- and an interview with me -- from The Portland Daily Sun.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Talking American Nations with Iowa Public Radio

Let the 2016 presidential speculation begin: I'm speaking on American Nations in Iowa tonight. The event -- part of Des Moines' World of Words Festival and the Iowa History Center's speaking series -- kicks off at 7pm at Simpson College in Indianola. It's free and open to the public.

For those who can't make it: in anticipation of the talk, I had this enjoyable and extended conversation with Iowa Public Radio's "River to River" program yesterday. The Des Moines Register's emeritus editorial page editor, Richard Doak, joined the conversation in the second half.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Remembering the Fall of the Wall, 25 Years Ago

I was living in Eastern Europe in 1989, and was in Berlin during the crazy week after the Berlin Wall came down, symbolically the Cold War.  Hard to believe it was 25 years ago.

Five years ago -- on the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet empire -- I wrote a series of posts here at World Wide Woodard on my experiences that breathtaking fall and early winter. Here, on the anniversary of the Wall's opening, is the piece I wrote about Berlin.

The full 1989-2009 series, for those interested, can be read here (start from the bottom and work your way to the top to read them in order.)

A quarter century later, it looks as if the Post-Cold War Era has ended, with an autocratic Russia again scratching menacingly at the eastern marches of Europe. Hopefully the world -- and the Russian people -- have the will and good sense to prevent a return to that bleak Cold War world.

Photos (c) Colin Woodard. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Maine: How did Paul LePage get reelected?

Last night, Gov. Paul LePage  -- whose approval rating has often been stuck in the thirties -- defied national experts and dozens of polls to win reelection by a comfortable margin and around 48 percent of the vote. How did it do it?

Between two and four this morning, I had the unenviable task of writing this early analysis for Politico Magazine. As most observers must be aware by now, it was more than a vote split, or bear baiting, or the great Republican wave, or his rival's loss of support in the congressional district that elected him six times, but rather a combination of all of the above.

But read for yourself.

My last two pieces for Politico Magazine were also about LePage -- a campaign primer in January and an update on his controversial and sustained contacts with a radical fringe group.

 Also on election day I was pleased that Conor Friedersdorf over at The Atlantic included my most recent book, American Nations, in his round-up of suggested reading for the day. Thanks, sir.

[Update 11/6/14: Also pleased that the Washington Post recommended the Politico piece as one of the "8 things you should have read" the day after the election. And the Boston Globe's "Political Happy Hour" too.]

Monday, November 3, 2014

Talking "American Nations" in Des Moines, November 11

For those of you in Greater Des Moines, Iowa, I'll be presenting on American Nations at Simpson College in Indianola on November 11.

The talk, which is also part of the Wonder of Words Festival that kicked off today, starts at 7pm at Hubbell Hall in the Kent Campus Center. It's presented by Simpson's Iowa History Center, who I thank for their interest in the book. It's free and open to the public, and I understand I'll be signing all of my books after the event.

For those interested in the Iowa angle, Richard Doak -- retired Opinion pages editor of the Des Moines Register -- wrote this column on American Nations and Iowa last year.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Don Gellers, 1936-2014

I've been remiss in posting here this full-length obituary of the Rabbi Tuvia Ben Shmuel Yosef, better known to Mainers as Donald Cotesworth Gellers, who died last month at age 78.

The obituary, which appeared in last week's Maine Sunday Telegram, provides some additional details on Gellers, who was a central figure in the 29-part Press Herald series, "Unsettled," and paid a stiff price for helping Maine's much-oppressed Passamaquoddy tribe in the mid-1960s.

Gellers passed away before he could see his name formally rehabilitated in Maine; a posthumous pardon effort is still underway to clear the former attorney, who was the victim of a state-sponsored conspiracy orchestrated by the state Attorney General's office and involving the police and possibly the courts.

[Update, 1/10/20: Governor Janet Mills, a former Attorney General and career prosecutor, granted Gellers a full pardon and admonished the state's handling of the case.]

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Goodbye, Marrakesh

I've spent the last few days in Marrakesh, near the edge of the Sahara, attending "Atlantic Dialogues 2014", an international conference convened by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the OCP Policy Center here in Morocco.

I've greatly enjoyed the proceedings and the opportunity to meet, converse, and share ideas with such an intriguing group of people from around the Atlantic Basin, including former heads of state, foreign ministers, policy advisers, scholars, parliamentarians, and journalists.

I also had the privilege to share the American Nations paradigm whilst part of a panel on "Decoding the United States" that included former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former City of Denver chief of staff Kelly Brough, and the state department's special representative for global intergovernmental affairs, Reta-Jo Lewis. Thanks kindly to the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart for deftly moderating the session, where I did manage to make a pitch for Maine and other essentially "city-less" actors on the global stage of trade, investment, and cooperation.

For those who attended and wanted to learn more about American Nations, we've posted this Washington Monthly article and this follow-up here and on the AD Connect app; it should give readers a broader sense of what the paradigm is all about and its utility in understanding ongoing events as well as historical ones.

Thanks again to GMF and OCP for inviting me. Now, back to Maine.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Maine Press Association Journalist of the Year

I received an entirely unexpected honor near the end of an award's ceremony last night: being named the Maine Press Association's 2014 Journalist of the Year. Many thanks to the MPA, which represents my native state's newspapers, and to my editors at the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram who have been so supportive of my (often time-consuming, long-form) work since joining the paper in 2012.

I had come to the ceremony to receive the first prize for an investigative project for "Lobbyist in the Henhouse," the seven-month long investigation of what happened after Gov. Paul LePage appointed an industry lobbyist to head the Department of Environmental Protection. The paper also won several other first prizes, the best advertising representative, and the three most coveted awards the MPA gives out: best daily newspaper, best Weekend newspaper, and best website. A very good night for the paper.

Also, for those with an interest in "Unsettled", the 29-part series on the harrowing odyssey of Maine's Passamaquoddy people over the past fifty years, the ebook is now available. It's free for subscribers, and available for purchase from B&N, Amazon, and iTunes. Thanks to all who came to the launch reception last week at the Salt Institute.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Republic of Pirates hits New York Times Bestseller List for Travel

A pleasant surprise this month: The Republic of Pirates made the New York Times Bestseller List for the Travel category. Based on sales in the month of September here in the United States, it came it at number 6.

The book -- a history of the infamous pirate gang of which Blackbeard was a member -- was the inspiration for the NBC series "Crossbones" and influenced Starz' "Black Sails" and Ubisoft's Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag (which are both set with this gang). Its long been available in Spanish and Danish translations, but this year also in U.K, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Hungarian, and Chinese (Taiwan) editions.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Don Gellers, 60s-era legal champion of Passamaquoddy, has died at 78.

I'm sad to report that Rabbi Tuvia Ben-Shmuel-Yosef -- known to Mainers by his birth name, Don Gellers -- died Wednesday in New York City. He was 78.

He was a central figure in my recent 29-part Portland Press Herald series, "Unsettled", vigorously defending the Passamaquoddy in court at a time when nobody else would, calling national media attention to official handling of the brutal 1968 slaying of tribal member Peter Francis, and filing the first land claims case against Maine (via colonial power Massachusetts).

As the series reveals, he was for his troubles run out of the state and country by a state sponsored conspiracy orchestrated by the Attorney General's office.

I'll be writing a longer story on Ben-Shmuel-Yosef  for next week's Telegram and will say some words about him at the "Unsettled" ebook launch reception Oct. 16.

[Update, 1/10/20: Governor Janet Mills, a former Attorney General and career prosecutor, granted Gellers a full pardon and admonished the state's handling of the case.]

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Unsettled" e-book release party, Oct. 16, Portland, Maine

"Unsettled", the 29-part series on the epic story of Maine's Passamaquoddy people over the past half century, is now available as an e-book and the Portland Press Herald is throwing a reception.

If you live in the vicinity of Portland, Maine -- or have frequent flyer miles to burn -- consider coming to the Oct. 16 event at the Salt Institute. Photographer Gabe Souza and myself will be there to answer questions about the series, with Press Herald Executive Editor Cliff Schechtman moderating. It kicks off at 6:00 pm, but space is limited so do RSVP using this link.

Here's the invite:

The ebook, published by the Press Herald, will be available free to subscribers and from iTunes and Amazon for everyone else. [Update, 10/16/14: The ebook is out now; links to download or purhase here.]

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Republic of Pirates on sale in Poland now

The Polish language edition of my third book, The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, went on sale today in bookstores there amid some media buzz. A bargain at 24 zł.
Republika Piratów -- published by Sine Qua Non in Krakow -- has gotten considerable pre-publication media attention, including this review in Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest daily.

The book -- which is also available in U.K, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, and audiobook editions with others on the way -- is the inspiration for the NBC series "Crossbones" which is currently airing in Latin America and is presumably on its way to European television screens.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Talking pirates with BBC Five; Nestle Waters gets a setback in Maine

Very, very early this morning, GMT, I had an enjoyable talk with BBC Five Live's "In Short" about how pirates really talked and behaved. Here's a short excerpt (on walking the plank) from our longer interview.

The interview was occasioned by International Talk Like A Pirate Day yesterday. The UK edition of my history of Blackbeard and his pirate gang, The Republic of Pirates, was released earlier this year by PanMacmillan, so perhaps it will have attracted a few insomniac readers.

Also, in today's Portland Press Herald I reported on a surprising new development in Nestle Waters North America's effort to conclude a longterm, low-price contract with Fryeburg, Maine's (privately-held) water utility.

Staff of the Maine Public Utilities Commission has recommended the proposed contract not be approved, in part because the local utility's charter doesn't permit it to sell water in bulk to Nestle, which then bottles and sells it under the Poland Springs brand. Could this derail Nestle's decades-long pumping operations in Fryeburg? It's all up to the PUC commissioners to decide.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Did Maine overpay for iPads in schools?

Maine, home of the first statewide one-to-one computers in schools program, may have paid to much for the iPads that replaced Apple laptops in many schools a year ago.

In yesterday's Portland Press Herald, I reported on an analyst's detailed comparison of what Maine's Department of Education paid for its iPad package from Apple with what the Los Angels United School District paid for the same technology at the same time for a similarly sized program. Maine got half the discount against retail that LAUSD negotiated.

The LAUSD contract has since come unraveled because of allegedly inpappropriate ties between top district officials and both Apple and curriculum software provider Pearson. At issue is whether the district paid too much -- not too little -- for its iPad contract.

Last week, I reported that the head of Maine's program, Jeff Mao, is leaving state government. He was also at the center of a public records scandal of sorts involving the same analyst who crunched the numbers comparing Maine and L.A.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Controversial Passamaquoddy figure restored as chief at Indian Township

I have another significant development for readers of "Unsettled",  the 29-part series on Maine's Passamaquoddy people that ran in the Portland Press Herald earlier this summer.

Last week, the tribe held their general elections. As I reported in Wednesday's Press Herald, at Indian Township controversial ex-chief Billy Nicholas won the chief's race. His brother, Leslie, won the vice-chieftanship and a third brother, Indian Township police chief Alex Nicholas, won a seat on the tribal council. The Nicholas brothers will have significant influence over tribal affairs for years to come.

Meanwhile, at the tribe's other reservation at Pleasant Point, voters tossed out their incumbent chief and vice chief in favor of Fred Moore III and Vera Francis. The story has more details.

Rough roads ahead. We'll be following it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unsettled update: controversial ex-chief wins primary election

For those following "Unsettled", the 29-part series on Maine's Passamaquoddy people that ran earlier this summer, there's a new development.

As I reported in Tuesday's Portland Press Herald, the controversial ex-chief at Indian Township, Billy Nicholas, won an 11-way primary for chief by a large margin last week.... after the last minute striking of one of his main competitors -- Allen Sockabasin -- from the ballot.

The Passamaquoddy's other reservation at Pleasant Point held their primary Monday. Frederick Moore III will face incumbent chief Clayton Cleaves in the general election Sept.3; Vera Francis will face incumbent vice chief Ken Poynter.

Stay tuned next week for full results of the tribe's elections.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Speaking on future of the oceans, Boothbay Harbor, Maine, Aug. 19

Graham Shimmield, the executive director of the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, and myself will be discussing the future of the oceans in Boothbay Harbor, Maine tomorrow evening, August 19th.

The talk, entitled "40 Years of Discovery and What Lies Ahead", is the finale of the lab's 2014 Cafe Scientifique program. It kicks off at the Opera House at 6pm and is free and open to the public. (Pay no attention to the date on the CafeSci (and Bigelow) pages -- it really has been rescheduled to Aug. 19, not Aug. 26.)

I covered ocean issues extensively as a foreign correspondent in the 1990s and 2000s. My first book, Ocean's End: Travels Through Endangered Seas, was on the collapse of marine systems around the world, and my second, The Lobster Coast, is a cultural and environmental history of Maine. I'm also a trustee of the lab.

Shimmield, if you follow the link to his bio, is a giant in marine science. If you're interested in the oceans, you'll want to hear what he has to say.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Remembering Andrew Ian Dodge

(c) 2014, Portland Press Herald
Andrew Ian Dodge, former Tea Party organizer and US Senate candidate in Maine, died earlier this month at 46. A few months ago, Dodge contacted me and asked if -- in the case that his ongoing rematch with cancer was unsuccessful -- that I'd write his obituary. I was humbled and honored to be asked, especially as Dodge was one of the most interesting people in Maine politics and displayed a combination all to rare amongst politicos: consistency, integrity, passion and humor.

The piece ran in yesterday's Maine Sunday Telegram, and was the lead of the Insight section.

For more on Dodge, here's a piece I wrote for Newsweek a few years back, when he was leading a rear guard action in the emerging struggle between libertarians and social conservatives over the future of the Tea Party movement. 

So long, AID. You'll be dearly missed on both sides of the pond.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Talking "Unsettled" with New Brunswick, "American Nations with Alabama

"Unsettled", the 29-part (plus Prologue, Epilogue, and sidebars) Portland Press Herald series on the Passamaquoddy people, concluded Sunday. Yesterday, I spoke with CBC-New Brunswick's Jacques Poitras about the series and the tribe, whose historic territory spanned the present Maine-New Brunswick border. (The show is Information Morning Fredericton.)

A few days ago I also had an enjoyable talk with a Birmingham-based reporter from, the Advance empire's Alabama news service, regarding what American Nations tells us about that state's resistance to reforms, particularly if they come from the federal government. Here's his report and an excerpt:

It's because of these centuries-old traditions about the role of government or what the desirable society is and each region has had a different answer to that," Woodward said.
Central and southern Alabama are members of the Deep South while north Alabama is a part of Greater Appalachia, according to Woodard.
Although Appalachia has distrusted the aristocratic culture seen in the Deep South region, the two cultures have found common ground in their distrust of the federal government.
"The Deep South and Appalachia share a hostility to government intrusion and regulation," Woodard said. "They come from different places (but) currently there is an alliance."

Monday, August 4, 2014

"Unsettled" Epilogue: A Family's inter-generational quest for justice

This week's Maine Sunday Telegram includes a front-page Epilogue to our recently completed 29-part series, "Unsettled."

The follow-up piece tells the story of the Peter Francis family's inter-generational quest for justice in the 1965 killing, for which nobody was ever found accountable. The state's handling of the case created statewide controversy -- and national media attention -- at the time, and has never been forgotten by the Passamaquoddy, as it distilled the institutionalized racism they'd long experienced in Maine.

For those of you in New Brunswick and Easternmost Maine, I'll be talking with CBC-New Brunswick's Jacques Poitras about the series on InfoMorning Frederiction tomorrow (Tuesday, August 5) at about 8:15 Atlantic (9:15 Eastern).

To read the full series, visit its landing page. And, yes, there will be an e-book and possibly a print one.

[Update, 1/10/20: Governor Janet Mills, a former Attorney General and career prosecutor, granted Don Gellers a full pardon and admonished the state's handling of the case.]

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The "Crossbones" Finale

The two-part finale of "Crossbones", the NBC series inspired by my book, The Republic of Pirates, aired last night. For any critics who said there wasn't enough action, their appetites should likely have been quenched.

I watched both episodes live, but for the majority of you North Americans who might have had something else to do on a Saturday night between 8 and 10 pm, they're both currently available free online, along with the rest of the series run, at NBC's website.

As a scholar of the actual pirate gang to which Blackbeard belonged, I enjoyed hearing Sam Bellamy's words inserted in Charlie's speech before a great naval battle last night. And what about those final five seconds or so?

For those of you in the rest of the world, "Crossbones" is on its way to you soon. More details as they're released....

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Talking pirates and Blackbeard with New Hampshire Public Radio

The double-header finale of NBC's "Crossbones" airs on Saturday, and in anticipation I was the guest on New Hampshire Public Radio's "Word of Mouth" this afternoon.

My third book, The Republic of Pirates, was the inspiration for the NBC series, which stars John Malkovich as Blackbeard, but our discussion was more broad, asking the question: why has Blackbeard's pirate cohort had such a hold on the popular culture and imagination? Just in the past year, after all, there's been "Black Sails" and Ubisoft's Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag, and news of another Pirates of the Caribbean film en route.

Find the answers by listening to the clip at NHPR's website.

Also, for those of you in easternmost Maine and the Canadian province of New Brunswick, I'll be your CBC radio guest on Tuesday morning, 8:15 Atlantic, talking about my 29-part newspaper series, Unsettled, which just wrapped up at the Portland Press Herald.

Monday, July 28, 2014

"Unsettled" Finale

"Unsettled", our epic 29 part series on Maine's Passamaquoddy people, concludes in this week's Maine Sunday Telegram. You can read the entire series at this landing page.

And, yes, before you ask, we are going to be issuing an e-book edition, and possibly a print edition as well. More on that later as details emerge.

The series has received an overwhelmingly positive reaction here in Maine. The Columbia Journalism Review has called it "a masterclass in serialization." It's been featured by the Poynter Institute, Indian Country Today, the Milwaukee Journal, Romeneso, and as a New York Times featured it in their "Our Picks" feature on their popular smartphone app, "New York Times Now."

Here in Maine, I've been interviewed about it by WCSH-6/WLBZ-2, WGAN (twice, including this latest conversation on Saturday), and WMPG. I'll be speaking to CBC New Brunswick later in the week.

We'll be publishing an Epilogue to the story next Sunday as well.

Thanks for reading, to my editors at the Press Herald for all their support, to the brilliant Brian Robitaille for the page designs, Peter Vachon for the web design, and staff photographer Gabe Souza for the fantastic work

Friday, July 25, 2014

Poynter on "Unsettled" (which concludes Sunday)

The Poynter Institute, the school for excellence in journalism, featured "Unsettled" today on their widely read MediaWire, including interviews with Press Herald managing editor Steve Greenlee, series photographer Gabe Souza, and myself. It tells the story behind the story, and how our paper came to run a 29-part, 50,000 word series spanning half a century.

"Unsettled" continues today and concludes on Sunday. Friday's installment -- Chapter 27 -- focuses on the serious problems in the management of the Passamaquoddy's most expansive resource: their forests. The entire series can be found here.

And, yes, for those who've been asking, there are plans for an e-book in the works, and possibly a print edition as well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Republic of Pirates, now in Polish

The Polish language edition of my third book, The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, is on its way to stores in East-Central Europe.

Republika Piratów is published by Sine Qua Non in my favorite Polish city, Krakow and, if I understand correctly, will be on shelves within the month. The book -- which is also available in U.K, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, and audiobook editions with others on the way -- is the inspiration for the NBC series "Crossbones" which is presumably on its way to television screens in other parts of the world. [Update, 9/24/14: The book went on sale today.]

Meanwhile, in unrelated news, "Unsettled", my 29-part series on Maine's Passamaquoddy continues in the Portland Press Herald today (and every day through July 27). The tribe has won their historic land claim, but their challenges are only just beginning.

Friday, July 11, 2014

CJR: "Unsettled" is "a masterclass on serialization"

"Unsettled", my 29 part series currently running in the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, continues today, with one tribal attorney cast out and a new one on the case.
Yesterday, the Columbia Journalism Review featured the series, calling it "a startling story of injustice and
defiance and a mastercalss on serialization." They also gave us the opportunity to explain why we think such a series fits so well with a daily newspaper's mission, and how we went about illustrating it. Thanks to CJR for their interest.

Also yesterday, the leading Native American news hub, the Indian Country Today Media Network, carried this plug for "Unsettled."

You can find all of "Unsettled" as it appears on this landing page. And again, no, there's no plan yet to release it as a book, although if everyone keeps asking we may have to make one.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Unsettled" continues, and gets a plug from the New York Times

"Unsettled", a shocking 29 part series currently running in the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, continues today. The Passamaquoddy tribe's attorney, it is revealed, was set up by state prosecutors in a sting operation unleashed the moment he returned home from filing the tribe's first land claims suit.

The series has been receiving an overwhelmingly positive reaction here in Maine, with many readers expressing amazement and horror about some of the events. This morning, the New York Times featured it in their "Our Picks" feature on their popular smartphone app, "New York Times Now." (Image on right).

Last night I had an enjoyable chat with Chris White and Andy Verzosa on WMPG-FM's "Tuesday Night Talk Radio Club"here in Portland. In a few days, you'll be able to catch it in their online archives here.

You can find all of "Unsettled" as it appears on this landing page. And, no, there's no plan yet to release it as a book, although if everyone keeps asking we
may have to make one.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summarizing LePage's latest scandal for Politico

Maine Gov. Paul LePage is in the midst of another scandal, this time for his worrisome and sustained interest in the work of a group of conspiracy theorists, at least one of whom likes to joke (?) about executing legislative leaders.

I've summarized the facts over at Politico Magazine.

It's discouraging, but predictable, to watch LePage supporters try to treat this as a garden variety partisan issue. Seriously: you can support your guy and still question some of the things he does. He needs it.

For those of you outside of Maine unfamiliar with the governor, here's a piece I did for Politico in January. And if you really, really want to know the guy, read my two-part ,10,000-word biography from the Portland Phoenix; he's truly a fascinating character, and his rise from truly harrowing childhood circumstances is pretty impressive.

And, in parting, here's the Bangor Daily News' editorial on this latest scandal; it's titled "Stating the obvious...".

Monday, July 7, 2014

Talking Blackbeard and pirates at the Smithsonian, July 14

I'm looking forward to presenting an evening seminar on the real Blackbeard at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. on July 14.

The talk, which kicks off at 6:45 pm is open to the public, but you do need to register and the Smithsonian Associates do charge for tickets.

My story on the last days of Blackbeard was the cover of the February issue of Smithsonian Magazine, and I researched the true story of his cohort of remarkable pirates in The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Him Down, which is itself the basis -- contractually speaking, at least -- of NBC's drama "Crossbones" with John Malkovich.

It's indeed a surprising story, one I think is more compelling than the fictionalized versions.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Talking "Unsettled" with News Center on WCSH-6 and WLBZ-2

I was a guest last night on Maine's largest newscast, News Center, which runs on the state's two NBC affiliates, WCSH-6 and WLBZ-2, talking about my new 29-part series in the Portland Press Herald. Rob Caldwell asks how "Unsettled" originated, if there was internal pushback against such a large project, and what it all means for Maine.

"Unsettled", the shocking and epic story of Maine's Passamaquoddy people, continues today (and every day) in the Press Herald. Chapter 3 exposes a horrific event that shook the Passmaquoddy nation and has never been forgotten.

You can always find the entire series -- as it publishes -- at the Unsettled landing page.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Unsettled, Chapter Two: the hunters were looking for girls

"Unsettled", the shocking and epic story of Maine's Passamaquoddy people, continues today (and every day) in the Press Herald. Chapter 2 opens with five Massachusetts hunters arriving at the reservation in search of girls.

The series -- 29 parts, fifty years, a single narrative -- continues every day on page one of the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram through July 27. The Prologue posted online Friday, and appears alongside Chapter 1 inside the A section of yesterday's Maine Sunday Telegram.

You can always find the entire series -- as it publishes -- at the Unsettled landing page.

Many people have written to ask if this is a book. The answer is no, at least not yet. It's always been thought of and executed as a newspaper series, though it could of course be released in another form.

Keep reading and, if you like it, tell others, both here and away.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Unsettled -- 29 parts, one epic story - begins today

"Unsettled", the shocking and epic story of Maine's Passamaquoddy people in living  memory, officially kicked off today in the Maine Sunday Telegram, where Chapter One occupied the entirety of the front page.

The series -- 29 parts, fifty years, a single narrative -- continues every day on page one of the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram through July 27. The Prologue posted online Friday, and appears inside the A section of today's paper. If you include an additional story-length sidebar and an epilogue scheduled in early August, there are 32 components, plus online features and documents, and the brilliant work of staff photographer Gabe Souza, who explored the reservations by car, foot, and airplane to illustrate this jaw-dropping story.

Thanks to everyone out there who spent the time to speak with me and helped me assemble the saga of some of Maine's real natives. Also to my colleagues at the Press Herald -- especially Brian Robitaille, Peter Vachon, Yoon Byun, and Michel Fisher -- who spent many hours seeing this project through to execution -- and editors Cliff Schecthman and Steve Greenlee who supported this ambitious undertaking with unwavering enthusiasm and generosity.

Enjoy, readers, and hold onto your seats.

Friday, June 27, 2014

"Unsettled" starts Sunday, "Crossbones" continues tonight

For those readers of the Portland Press Herald who wonder what I've been up to in recent months, here's the answer: researching and writing "Unsettled", a 29-part series -- 32 if you count the prologue, epilogue, and story-length sidebar -- which runs daily starting Sunday.

It's the epic and shocking story of Maine's Passamaquoddy people over the past half century, one that will likely shatter my fellow Mainers conception of what sort of society we've been, while reshaping public understanding of the contemporary tensions both with and within the tribe. And there are a lot of surprises along the way.

The prologue just posted a few minutes ago, so you can get a taste of the series right away. Chapter One runs Sunday -- I've seen the layout: you won't have any trouble finding it. (Until the end of the day today you can also view this short promo video on the series.)

I'll say more about the series once it starts running, but whether you live in Maine or not, this is a tale you may well want to delve into.

Also tonight catch episode four of "Crossbones", the NBC drama starring John Malkovich and inspired by my third book, The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and The Man Who Brought Them Down. It kicks off at 10pm Eastern.

[Updated 6/27/14, 11:47 to reflect Prologue posting]

Friday, June 20, 2014

Presenting American Nations, Concord, Mass., June 25

The Village University at Concord, Massachusetts -- an offering of the Center for American Studies there -- has invited me to be involved in a pair of presentations of the ideas in my most recent book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. They're free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, June 25, I'll be at the Concord Free Public Library, presenting the true regional map of North America and discussing its profound effect on our history, national identity, and current politics. This event starts at 5:30 and a book signing will follow. (Note that you won't find it on the library's schedule, as they are not the sponsor and apparently that matters for some reason.) The library is at 129 Main Street. Again, it's free.

At 7:30 pm, I'll be joining a discussion forum on the question "Our Daily News: New/Old? The Same Old Story?"at the Masonic Lodge, 58 Monument Square in Concord. It's walking distance from the Library, and there's a handy walking map on page 20 of this guide to the University program.

Indeed, for that full program of the Village University, click here. Be forewarned that, in the Transcendentalist tradition, the organizers do not seek to make navigating the curriculum and logistics clear and obvious to the public, but I have faith in you all to persevere, showing yourselves to be worthy Yankees willing to tackle event codes and grids and opaque descriptions. It'll be fun, I assure you, so come say hello!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Republic of Pirates in Portuguese

With "Crossbones" soon to broadcast in countries around the world, several foreign editions of Republic of Pirates are awaiting release, joining the Spanish, Danish and U.K editions already out there.

I'm pleased to see that the Portuguese-language edition is about to be released by Brazil's Novo Seculo Editora, just in time for all those people who don't want to watch the FIFA World Cup.

Novo Sculo posted this cover on their Facebook page today, describing the book -- so Google Translate tells me -- as their next release.

For those in the U.S., "Crossbones"  takes a break this week. The third episode appears on NBC June 20 in its usual time slot: 10 pm.