Thursday, August 31, 2017

This Is Going to Be So Fun

This week the book was reviewed in The Wall Street Journal. The reviewer (Richard Conniff) takes a while to get to the book, preferring to start with wondering who I am.
 Discovering the Mammoth is one of those books that make you wonder about the author as much as about his topic. John J. McKay writes that he got started with a single blog post aiming to establish "a chronology of what was known about mammoths and when." Or rather, he got started because he noticed, while indulging his "great love of conspiracy theories and fringe ideas," that "lost history theories"—think Atlantis, flood geology and rogue planets—" all used frozen mammoths as proof positive of their ideas."
 I've written about this before.

One of the most popular contemporary catastrophist writers, Graham Hancock, has just issued a call to his readers to help him on a new project. He wants to know if anyone knows anything about mammoth discoveries, specifically if they know anything about Alaska. Hmmm.

Do I know anything about mammoth discoveries? Yes.
Am I familiar with catastrophist literature? Yes.
Am I familiar with recent geological literature on the soils in which late Pleistocene bones are found? Yes.
And other relevant scientific literature? Yes.
Do I know anything about Alaska? Yes.

So, here's a question, should I invite Mr. Hancock to Alaska so I can give him a tour of the places where mammoths are found and introduce him to the experts? It would have to be on his dime, of course, and I would reserve the rights to document the trip.

In any case, I plan to write about t his a lot.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The book is out

As of Tuesday, my book is officially out. Rush to your local bookseller and demand they sell you a copy. Get your friends and family to buy one. Badger your local library to acquire multiple copies. Donate one to your high school. Nag the school board to design a course based on it. I'm available for interviews. I'm available for signings. I'm available for lunch (if you're paying). Let's sell this thing.

This is a huge milestone in my life. Actually, several milestones in several aspects of my life, but let me stick to the most obvious. This is a major punctuation point in that project. I came up with the idea, sold it to an agent, who sold it to a publisher, who helped me edit the final copy, which was printed, and officially came out Tuesday. Preordered copies were shipped and my friends have been reporting receiving them all week. Technically, the project isn't over. I need to help sell it; do interviews, readings, and signings; and possibly write some more related mammoth materials.

This milestone is also a call to start a new project. I've written before how the book grew out of the idea for a single blog post, that became a series of blog posts, to a short book, to a dissertation. The two things I want to write now are the book I've wanted to write for thirty-five years--my history of the aftermath of WWI--and the other is another blog post gone out of control--my interpretation of the psychology and history of American political partisanship. Both have contemporary relevance.

The WWI book is coming up against marketable centennials. This will be an easier book to write. I've not only been thinking about it for over half of my life, it's the field of history that I specialized in during grad school. I own over a hundred books relevant to the topic. Unfortunately, the books are all in storage in Washington while I'm stuck in Alaska.

The book on recent partisanship in American politics, is something I've started over and over again as a blog post. I always get stuck at the point where I want to start citing sources. This is where my mammoth book got out of control. Tracking down things I've read over the last twenty years, just for a long-read blog-post that fewer than fifty people will finish was too discouraging to contemplate. It would make a great magazine piece, but I doubt my mammoth book alone is enough credentials sell the idea.

I'm also tempted to drag out some of my other abandoned, long blog-posts and try out publishing an e-book just for the experience. Unfortunately, many of those posts are on a hard-drive, stored with my books over a thousand miles away.

Decisions. Decisions.

PS -- Buy my book.

PPS -- I suppose this means I should go back to talking about politics and things unrelated to the book.