The last week has been a whirlwind ever since my new book World War I New York: A Guide to the City’s Enduring Ties to the Great War was published by Globe Pequot. I was on the edge for weeks because the book was delayed, and I was worried it would miss the centennial on April 6. To say it was close was an understatement. April 4 I finally got a chance to see the book, when a box arrived at 8:00 a.m. at my apartment. I was worried because that night was my first book talk and signing for it, at the New York Transit Museum. They ordered books, and they arrived on time. I also heard from a friend that the books arrived at the Museum of the City of New York, where their exhibit opened the same night.
The Transit Museum was wonderful. The staff was fantastic. The archivist, Desiree Alden-Gonzalez, brought out some vintage items from their collection. I was in awe of the display; including a WWI memorial to Brooklyn transit workers I didn’t know about. My talk had close to 40, and they asked really good questions. I was really happy so many of my friends came out to Brooklyn for it. This was also my first book talk in my replica Doughboy uniform…
Wednesday April 5 I shot up to the Bronx for another WWI exhibition, this one at the Museum of Bronx History. I can’t say enough about this nice small exhibition. Get up to see it on weekends this spring and summer. It’s what I needed to see, which was the community coming together to remember the war on the local level. Kudos to Bronx County Historical Society staff Vivian Davis and Angel Hernandez for this.
Thursday was a marathon day, and the beginning of three days of non-stop activity. This was April 6 and the centennial. I was among about ten reenactors invited by the Father Duffy Coalition to go to Duffy Square for the memorial ceremonies. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate, and no amount of prayer to Father Duffy helped. We got soaked. But it was a moving and beautiful ceremony. The highlight for me was K.T. Sullivan performing the National Anthem in the rain. We trudged over to an Irish bar and the drinks were on the house, which was nice!
Thursday evening was the party at Flute, where I had a box of books. I sold out all but a few. It was a good little party with close friends. I put on my iPod mix of WWI songs, which looked like it drove the non-WWI people in the place crazy. A French 75 cocktail and we were all great.
Saturday morning I drove up to Orange County and my first visit to Museum Village. Dawn Elliot organizes the WWI reenactors’ day and it was a big hit. It was around 40-50 reenactors portraying all sides of the Great War. U.S. Army outnumbered everyone. I sold out all copies of my book, and had a nice time with the living history buffs. We had beautiful weather and a fine day too.
I had to get back to Manhattan and the screening at the New-York Historical Society of the Great War series on PBS American Experience. I was still in my Doughboy kit; I wore it so much this week I felt as if I was actually in the real Army. I got to see some more of my friends at the screening. Dr. Libby O’Connell, commissioner of the U.S. WWI Centennial Commission and also head of the WWI Centennial Committee for NYC, of which I am the program director, moderated it. The highlight for me was meeting author Richard Rubin. His book “The Last of the Doughboys” is my favorite WWI book, and it really was a masterful way of telling the story of the war. I can’t wait to read his new book.
My seventh book is out, and now the work begins of marketing and promotion. My publisher isn’t backing me on that front, so I am the publicist and marketer. I’ll be sharing a lot of information on social media, and there will be monthly events from now until the end of the year.
But before anything else happens? On April 13 I’m going to Florida for 10 days with my family. Unless Legoland has a Doughboy section, I’ll be unplugged for a few days.