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.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Presenting American Nations at Philanthropy Exchange 2014

I'm going to be in Washington, D.C. tomorrow to present the opening plenary talk at this year's Philanthropy Exchange 2014, the annual conference of the Council on Foundations, which represents the nation's grant-giving philanthropies.

I'm especially pleased that American Nations -- the subject of my talk -- is to set the theme for this year's conference: as I understand it, philanthropy working in (and helping perhaps overcome) a fractured nation.

Following my talk, the themes I raise will be taken up by a pretty impressive group: Jim Clifton, CEO, The Gallup Organization; Carly Dawn Hare, Executive Director, Native Americans in Philanthropy; Wendy Ramage Hawkins, Executive Director, Intel Foundation; Carol S. Larson, President and CEO, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Kevin K. Murphy, President, Berks County Community Foundation. [Update: Ford Foundation President and CEO Darren Walker is joining the discussion as well; the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart will be moderating.] I'm very interested in hearing what they'll have to say.

If you're down at the conference -- it's a big one -- come by and say hello. I'll be signing a few books after the plenary.

Crossbones, Episode 2: In an unrelated matter, I caught the second episode of "Crossbones" last night, the NBC drama inspired by my third book, The Republic of Pirates, and starring John Malkovich as Blackbeard. Pleased to see it got impressive ratings last night, for its time slot, with 90 percent retention in the key viewing demographic against the premier. Take that, naysayers -- and time to give the show a more high-profile time slot.

I especially enjoyed the reveal that at least one of the supporting characters is a veteran of the Jacobite Uprising of 1715, a true to life and long hidden aspect of some of the real historical pirates surrounding Blackbeard that I revealed in Republic of Pirates. (Hat tip to the late Ken Kinkor on some of that.)And the "Athenian democracy" stuff? Yes, there's some truth to that as well, but you'll have to read my book to learn more.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Visiting the "Crossbones" pirate ship... in Maine

By coincidence, the vessel that played the role of Blackbeard's pirate ship in the Friday premier of "Crossbones" -- the NBC series inspired by my book, The Republic of Pirates -- was in Rockland, Maine over the weekend. (That's the one in the picture above.) My son and I went up and had a look.

The vessel is the schooner Amistad, a replica of the two-masted schooner seized by its cargo of slaves in 1839, who eventually won their freedom in a U.S. court (a story dramatized in the 1997 movie of the same name.) The current schooner was built at Mystic Seaport.

Unfortunately for me, the Amistad cycles through crew quickly, and there was nobody aboard who had been with the vessel late last year, when she in Puerto Rico for the filming of "Crossbones." Thus I was denied a chance to ask the important questions: is John Malkovich afraid of the water? How did they go about simulating a naval battle? How long did it take to film the five minutes of shipboard action at the opening of the pilot episode?

Another time perhaps.

Meanwhile, Amistad, Malkovich and "Crossbones" will be back on the small screen this Friday night at 10 Eastern. If you missed the first installment, its available free online. And for those itching to know more about who Blackbeard was before the fantasy events in the show -- which take place a decade or more after the pirate's (supposed?) death -- you'll want to be reading my book.