The Heart of Darkness

As we enter the final year of the Civil War sesquicentennial, debate continues over whether or not slavery was the primary cause of the conflict. Was the North fighting to free the slaves or to preserve the Union? Would the South really go to war over slavery with only 1.5% of the population owning slaves or was it fighting for state’s rights? An equally important question is why educated, deeply religious men and women allowed this heinous institution to thrive on our shores, justified it from the pulpit and crippled half a fledgling nation. There’s no shortage of material on the subject, but since its history is often skewed by revisionists, an unvarnished look is in order. Nearly as old as mankind, slavery flourished in almost every ancient civilization. It...

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If I Could Turn Back Time

Few authors know where to expect inspiration, but that’s only part of the excitement of our profession. So is venturing into unknown territory. Despite being a fan of George Orwell’s The Time Machine, Jack Finney’s Time and Again and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, I never considered writing time travel because the market was lopsided with poorly written, badly plotted stories about some woman getting hit on the head and waking up to discover she’s Cleopatra. Such books had, to quote Dorothy Parker, all “the depth and glitter of a worn dime.” My reluctance changed some years ago when I lived in the French Quarter, and did something as innocuous as going onto my gallery one warm winter evening to enjoy a glass of wine. I wasn’t there long when fog began...

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Not a Black and/or White Issue

It’s another of history’s dirty little secrets. While black slavery in this country is well documented, there is little said about its white counterpart. If mentioned at all, white slavery usually masquerades under the broad labels of “indentured servitude” and the “convict trade.” (The word “slave” originally referred to the Slavs of Eastern Europe who were in bondage off and on for centuries.) Gypsies and the Chinese were also victims of forced labor in this country, and the rarely acknowledged enslavement of California’s Mission Indians by the Spanish padres was the subject of my book, Communion of Sinners. Our historians’ biased insistence on ignoring this ugly reality deserves to be rectified. In the 1600s,...

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