Thursday, December 14, 2017

Press Matters

Earlier today an official announcement was made that Disney was making a bid to purchase a large part of 20th Century Fox.  While this deal, or rumors of it, first started coming to light after Dis-History was well on its way to publication, the potential ramifications for Disney's uses of the past that are laid out in the book are surely at play--both in explaining why the deal makes sense, and why it endangers the system Walt put into place nearly at the founding of the company.

In other book news, the interview I did with the Elkhart Truth about Rebel Bulldog ran today!  To say I'm thrilled is beyond measure.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Good Times on the High Seas and Back Home Again

For the third time, my family and I celebrated Thanksgiving with the Mouse.  This time was different though, as we journeyed out onto the high seas of the Caribbean on a Disney Cruise.  It was very relaxing and in some ways, a fitting end to my Dis-History project.  Or, maybe it was the start of a Dis-Historic sequel, as my children tried to make an argument for a follow up book that looks exclusively at the cruise line!

No sooner did we get back to Indiana though, than I received word that my 5th book had been released in time for me to take part in the Indiana Historical Society's annual Holiday Authors Fair!  Longtime readers of this blog know that this book looks at the Davidson family of Indiana and Virginia, how they were divided by war, and what that meant for a once prominent family in two states.  After picking up my author's copies of Rebel Bulldog, I was asked by one of Butler's honors students what it was like to complete a book (he's working on his thesis).  I told him that professionally, there were few things better than holding a work you've poured years of your life into in your hands.

It was, perhaps, appropriate to have my first conversation about writing with a member of the Butler University Honors Program--both of these books owe so much to the UHP.  They've helped create two Honors seminars (Disney and American Culture, Butler and the Civil War), and their arguments have been shaped in constant conversations with students and colleagues over the past five years.

I don't know if I'll ever have two books released in the same year again or not.  But for now, I'm just enjoying the process that got me here.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Glory of Old IU

I am a three time graduate of Indiana University. Two of those degrees are from Indiana University, Bloomington's Department of History. If I arrived in Bloomington with an affinity for History, it was during my time there that I learned what it meant to be an historian and that I wanted to be one. So, it is with a great deal of alumni pride that I get to say that one week from today, on October 6, I'll be spending the day back at my alma mater, talking about my journey from Bloomington to Butler (to current graduate students) and a book talk about Dis-History, my work on Disney and its uses of history. I cannot wait!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

From the Butler Newsroom

Last week I sat down for an interview about Dis-History with the Butler University newsroom.  Here is final result:

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Introducing Dis-History!

In 2012, we took our children to Walt Disney World for an entire week.  I didn't know it at the time, but it was the start of a book.  We went back in January 2013 and again in November 2013.  By the dawn of 2014, I was at work.  There were more trips to "the World" ahead for us, as well as several trips to Disneyland, and even to Disneyland Paris.....and even time spent at the Walt Disney Studio.  On one of our final trips, I turned to my wife, got a little choked up, and told her that no matter what else I did, no project would ever be like this one: It truly was something that brought our family together.  It was special.  In that way, it was living up to Walt's dream for Disneyland:  A place where families could have fun together, to forget about the outside world for awhile, and enjoy what truly is real and important.

And so, it is with a great deal of happiness that I announce Dis-History has been released by Theme Park Press:

More on this soon!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Fresh Start

It has been awhile.  Something like two years have gone by since my last post.  It isn't because I've not had things to say or report, rather, it has more to do with being busy at work and home (including running a blog for work).  There is only so much time in the day, and I found writing this blog (though not writing, more on that in a moment) to be something I could sacrifice.  But as 2017 starts to come to a close, I'm ready to begin again.

So, what have I been working on?  If you were reading this blog regularly, you know that I was working on a book that looked at Butler University (in particular, one family) and the Civil War.  I am pleased to report that I have seen the galley proofs for that book (Rebel Bulldog) and that it will be out in the coming months!

But that is not all!  After submitting the manuscript to a press, I started working on a new project--again, one that readers of this blog might have gotten a hint of.  This time, I researched how Walt Disney (and the company that still has his name) uses history in its park system.  Hands down, this was the most enjoyable experience of my professional life in terms of research---I mean, who wouldn't enjoy family vacations that centered around Disney?!?  Plus, I got the opportunity to actually do work in the Walt Disney Corporate Archives!  Spending the day at the studio was awesome.  I am pleased to report that I have seen galley proofs for this book (Dis-History) and that it will be out in the coming months as well!

I might write more about it at some point, but let me say now that the process of working on these two books (2012-2017) couldn't have been more different in so many ways, as well as so educational to me, as an author and historian.  I learned the value of patience.  I learned to stick to my vision of a book (nothing like an editor saying how much they loved the manuscript, only to have internal reviewers withhold support because a book isn't as they'd have written it).  I learned that colleagues who are impressed with one project can be almost equally dismissive of another (I'll let you, dear readers, guess which is which).

With these two projects finished, this summer I've started a new project: Researching how encountering the Holocaust impacted Dwight Eisenhower, both as a general but also later as president.  In so many ways, this project is as emotionally draining (if also rewarding) as the Disney project was uplifting.  There have been days already where I've been overtly thrilled when a student (a scarce event during the summer months) has stopped by the office, or where I've purposefully gotten on Disney blogs just to escape reading about the greatest crime of the 20th century.  But, I'm committed to this project, just like I was the other two, because I think it is a story that needs to be told (and one that really hasn't....yet).

So, I'm happy to be back!  And you can expect more in the weeks and months to come!