A short and sweet update from me on some of the projects which have been going on, just as I have been a bit quiet for a while! I wanted you all to know that I have been busy, quite literally ‘Making History’ over the past couple of months.
So where are we?
Current Projects: My most current project is a new book on Caesar, to be announced very soon. The text is done, the battle maps (you know how I love a good battle map or thirty!) are taking shape and the book jacket is in the works. Right now, this is with the graphic designers, so I am at the ‘nail biting’ stage! This book hasn’t been attempted since the mid-1800’s and never so completely. Also never with battle and campaign maps (of which there are about 40) and so much study. A fantastic look at one of the greatest military commanders of all time and his battles!
New Projects: My newest project is something which I have been working on for about two and a half years – and that’s without writing a word! I have found a very important lost battlefield and with it a whole new war which I am slowly piecing together! It is hard; imagine that this war is a hundred-piece jigsaw puzzle, well the lost battle is a fifty-piece part right in the middle. Until now we have had the vague periphery, the idea of a war which takes up at best two or three pages of even the best history books. Now, and with help from Dr Tony Pollard at the centre for battlefield archaeology at the University of Glasgow, I am already some way to writing the lost chapter of the career of one of the world’s greatest ever military commanders – Hannibal!
Future Projects: It’s a sad fact that as 40 looms, I am running out of time to write all that I should like to. Just this week, I have turned down requests to write upon the Zulu War and the Crimean War. Much as they are always fascinating, I fear that I will never get around to them! I always think 2-3 books ahead and have research projects on everything from Wellington to the Falklands War going right now. It depends upon what questions are thrown up, what ones haven’t been answered and what ones deserve a book and 6-12 months of my time if I can answer them – a mammoth task! I have a running list of at least forty books I could churn out which are all areas of fascination and – most importantly, real ‘new history’ which seeks to answer the big unanswered questions of history. All I can say is ‘Watch this space.’
Legacy Projects: The one I am always asked about; my seven-volume history of Napoleon and the development of his art of war. Yes…I know. It is coming! For those who are constantly chasing me up on this, let me bring you up to speed. All seven exist. I have them and can read them end to end. The problem is that I finished these on December 23rd 2013 and then in the last few pages I made a discovery which shook not just my world, but will shake the foundations of what everybody thought they knew about Napoleon and his art of war. Something Napoleon wrote in code which I cracked, looked at, tested and found to be consistent and perfect. Now this is brilliant, but sadly it required a vast amount of rewriting! – What a thing to discover on the last page!! I have worked backwards and perfected volumes 7, 6, 4 and now most of 5. There are three more which need a lot of attention still. They will be worth the wait!
So that’s where I am right now. A lot of work going on. Nine books in various stages of release and new projects throwing up possibilities all the time. As people know, I like to do something new and exciting with history. A question strikes me, usually whilst writing and sometimes out of idle curiosity. If I am interested enough, I go and look it up. If the answer eludes me after that, I start to look at why. Sometimes – quite often – the solution is either that nobody will ever know or that the answer is simply not that interesting. That is about 90% of cases. But sometimes, just sometimes, the question is tantalising, the possibilities of answering it promise a fun journey, a fascinating revelation and something which people want…heck need to know!
This is the art of history – or at least mine. Not a ‘just so’ story as told from the author’s perspective, but a question which, as I write, I don’t know the answer to. The reader should come on a journey of discovery, view the evidence and the sources and be as gripped as they discover as I was – and most commonly as I am at the time of writing. You can read the enthusiasm as I write!
So please bear with me as I write something which is actually worthy of your time and of the men who made this history. Nine books are on their way, thirty-odd more if I can keep going, and I am as excited as can be to be really “Making History.”
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