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Pre-publication praise:

“The author makes a convincing case that, without France, the United States may never have gained independence.”  Kirkus Reviews.

“Shachtman illuminates the impact of French contributions to American military leadership, resources, and engineering knowledge, while also paying close attention to the effects of French-led international negotiations with Britain and Spain. Throughout he emphasizes the roles played by King Louis XVI, the Marquis de Lafayette, and others who worked closely with more-well-known American figures such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin….. Of interest to American-history enthusiasts and Francophiles alike.”  Publishers Weekly.

“A terrific read, incredibly researched, vivid, persuasive, wonderful details and analysis – everything you want history to be.”  Constance Rosenblum, former section editor, The New York Times.

“At last a full and compelling account of the crucial role that France and the French played in the American Revolutionary War.  This book deserves a place on the bookshelf of every American history buff.” Jeswald Salacuse, Distinguished Professor and Former Dean, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionaries: The Founding Fathers in the Age of Enlightenment

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Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionaries: The Founding Fathers in the Age of Enlightenment  by Tom Shachtman C-Span’s taping of lecture about this book at the New York Public Library

The book is a Featured Alternate for the History Book Club, Military Book Club, Scientific American Book Club, and Book-of-the-Month Club 2.

Adapted excerpt: George Washington, the First Vaxxer  at The Daily Beast

Praise for Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionaries

“A fascinating and unique look at the familiar history of the founding of the United States through the hyperfocused lens of scientific advancement.” – Library Journal

“An intriguing survey of science’s influence on the Founders.”   — Booklist

“Makes a strong case for the importance of science and technology in the creation of the United States …. A well-researched, lively entry into the current debate about the role of science in a democracy.” Kirkus Reviews

In this lively history … Shachtman makes an ingenious and convincing case that “science-based thoughts and actions were critical to the nation’s birth and early health—far more so than were religious doctrine or economic considerations.” — Publishers Weekly

“We might hear as children about Ben Franklin with his kite and key in the thunderstorm, but this lively and learned book gives us the grown-up view of the Founders and their fascination with things scientific. Employing a large cast of colonial characters–Franklin, Washington, Jefferson and other famous figures of the era, but also lesser-known thinkers and tinkerers–Tom Shachtman makes a compelling case that the American Revolution became a movement not only for political independence, but for scientific independence as well. Indeed, Shachtman shows us that the two can hardly be considered separable.” –Greg Nobles, Professor of History, Georgia Institute of Technology, and co-author of Whose American Revolution Was It?

“This splendid book tells the eye-opening story of America’s founding generation as first-class scientists. We know how they created the government of the United States. Here we learn much more – and what a story it is!” –Lee Dembart, former science editor and science book reviewer, Los Angeles Times

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American Iconoclast: The Life and Times of Eric Hoffer

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American Iconoclast: The Life and Times of Eric Hoffer by Tom Shachtman“Excellent new biography …. [Hoffer’s] name has gradually faded from view. Yet, as his biographer points out, Hoffer continues to contribute insightful ideas and opinions to society, which is why we ought to look to his writings once again.” – The New Criterion, September 2012

Known as the longshoreman philosopher, Eric Hoffer was a beloved and controversial figure. Using Hoffer’s never-before-seen archives, this biography uncovers the steps by which an unschooled migrant field hand and dockworker created himself as an artist and thinker, relates how his background and occupations were reflected in his published works, and analyzes Hoffer’s books and articles and their impact on his times.

“As complete and masterful a biography as could be imagined, a great study of Hoffer, an American icon—provocative and stimulating. Shachtman also provides an interesting view of the period.” -Herbert S. Parmet, biographer of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon

”Eric Hoffer speaks with remarkable clarity to many of today’s most difficult questions. Tom Shachtman presents this visionary thinker and his ideas with page-turning style and thought-provoking insight. A long overdue rediscovery of the longshoreman philosopher by a fine writer.” -Walter W. Woodward, State Historian, Connecticut

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Rumspringa, To Be Or Not To Be Amish

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Rumspringa by Tom Shachtman“Shachtman is like a maestro, masterfully conducting an orchestra of history, anthropology, psychology, sociology, and journalism together in a harmonious and evocative symphony of all things Amish.” – Christian Science Monitor. Now in paperback.                  

A favored title of book discussion groups, for dialogues on faith, morals, and the difficulty of raising teenagers.

Some additional excerpted reviews, below.

Publishers Weekly starred review: “Shachtman is a sensitive and nimble chronicler of Amish teens, devoting ample space to allowing them to tell their stories in their own words. Throughout, he uses the Amish rumspringa experience as a foil for understanding American adolescence and identity formation in general, and also contextualizes rumspringa throughout the rapidly growing and changing Amish world. This is not only one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People, but a perceptive snapshot of the larger culture in which they live and move.”

“Writer, novelist, and documentarian Shachtman has created a fascinating and near-unprecedented glimpse into the inner lives of Amish society. High recommended.” Library Journal

“A riveting and instructive portrait,” Kirkus Reviews

“Mr. Shachtman’s wonderfully rich portrait and history of the Amish as a people and a faith helps to show why one of the strictest religious communities in America is better at holding a flock than some of the most liberal.” Wall Street Journal

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The Most Beautiful Villages of New England

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The Most Beautiful Villages of New England by Tom Shachtman“This is one of the few ‘coffee table’ books I own. But it covers all the gems and must-see villages … and provides plenty of information on the history and architecture of each …. In the depth of a New England winter this is a book I take to bed with me and dream of spring.” — The New England Online Magazine.

Honored as the birthplace of the Revolution, the six states that comprise New England are home to some of this country’s most beautiful and cherished villages–places that preserve and reflect its architectural and cultural legacy. Here, in countless public squares and cemeteries, are monuments to the battles of the Revolution, and memorials to the heirs of the revolutionaries who themselves marched off to preserve the Union during the Civil War.

One of the most splendid repositories of American institutional architecture is found in New England’s public meeting halls and churches, and in the industrial mills and factories of the nineteenth century. The book also celebrates New England’s rich tradition of domestic architecture: seaside homes clad in weathered gray shingles, white clapboard houses surrounding village greens, and exuberant Victorian gingerbread homes. New England is justly famous for its succession of intensely realized seasons: its deep and snowy winter; its spring, which bursts forth in a cascade of melting snow and budding vegetation; its leafy, languid summer days; and, perhaps most famously, its autumn, when the landscape seems to be on fire with the vivid reds, oranges, and yellows of the foliage.

The Most Beautiful Villages of New England presents over twenty-five towns and villages, chosen for their beauty and history, and for their diverse geography. Here are the fishing villages and towns of New England’s rocky Atlantic Coast, from famous summer watering holes to isolated island hamlets. We explore farming villages and the highlands of New England’s mountain ranges–the Adirondacks, Berkshires, and Green Mountains. In the river valleys we find quiet, exquisitely preserved communities and renovated mill and factory towns.

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The Inarticulate Society

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The Inarticulate Society: Eloquence and Culture in America by Tom Shachtman“A perceptive and disturbing book …. Our inability to use language articulately has consequences beyond aesthetics, says Shachtman. It threatens the survival of democracy ….. Loss of analytic capacity makes us easy prey for Big Brother and his Orwellian gang.” — Washington Post Book World

Originally published in 1995, THE INARTICULATE SOCIETY: ELOQUENCE AND CULTURE IN AMERICA has been reissued in paperback because of continued interest in the book and its subject — articulate behavior. As with RUMSPRINGA, it has become a favorite of book clubs seeking good topics for discussions. Here’s why, in a review from the American Library Association:

“People talk more and say less, and that summarizes Shachtman’s wide-ranging analysis of the verbal ineptitude that television so obviously fosters. But he doesn’t saddle the tube with sole responsibility for ineloquence. It more abets than causes the crisis, which emanates from deeper problems, such as the mass appetite for witless entertainment in talk shows, sitcoms, or action movies. Trenchant examples of disjointed, muddled speech overlay the scholarly linguistic theories that Shachtman explains, making this a rich warning about the ever-growing impoverishment of public rhetoric.”

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The Forty Years War

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THE FORTY YEARS WAR, THE RISE AND FALL OF THE NEOCONS FROM NIXON TO OBAMA, by Len Colodny and Tom Shachtman. Now in paperback. “An eye-opening, provocative history of the neoconservative movement from its little-known role in Richard Nixon’s downfall through its ultimate expression in the preemptive war in Iraq.” — History Book Club News   

“Absorbing…a must read….illuminating and deeply provocative….The Forty Years War is a book that deserves to have a much higher public profile as Colodny and Shachtman are marshalling new evidence to challenge conventional interpretations of late Cold War political history and foreign policy. –

“[Colodny and Shachtman] tell the story from Nixon to now, and they do it in meticulous and interesting detail.” –Chicago Sun-Times

“A rigorous and critical examination of the neoconservative movement and the bureaucratic, ideological battles over American foreign policy from 1969 to 2009.…[A] captivating chronicle. Highly recommended.” – Library Journal

“A well-reported, fast-paced history lesson on the eternal conflict between ideologues and policymakers and the hubris that always accompanies success.” – Kirkus Reviews

Len Colodny and I were the featured guests at the Washington, D.C., World Affairs Council on January 7, 2010 in a ninety-minute discussion taped by C-Span. First shown on January 31, 2010,it is now available on their website. We are pleased that more than 3,000 people have since looked at excepts of the program on the C-Span Book TV website or downloaded the video.

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Building Tall

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Building Tall My Life and the Invention of Construction Management A Memoir By John L. Tishman and Tom ShachtmanIn this memoir, University of Michigan graduate John L. Tishman recounts the experiences and rationale that led him to create the entirely new profession now recognized and practiced as Construction Management. It evolved from his work as the construction leader of the “owner/builder” firm Tishman Realty & Construction, and his personal role as hands-on Construction Manager in the building of an astonishing array of some of the world’s tallest and most complex projects. These include:

  • The world’s first three 100-story towers—the original “twin towers” of the World Trade Center in Manhattan and the Hancock Tower in Chicago.
  • The EPCOT Center at Disney World.
  • The Renaissance Center in Detroit.
  • New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Tishman interweaves the stories behind the construction of these and many other important buildings and projects with personal reminiscences of his dealings with Henry Ford, Jr., Disney’s Michael Eisner, casino magnate Steve Wynn, and many others into a practical history of the field of Construction Management, which he pioneered.

This book will be of interest not only to a general public intrigued by the stories and personalities behind many of the most iconic construction projects of the post–World War II period in the United States but to students of engineering and architecture and members of the new field of Construction Management.

“John Tishman is a true pioneer in the Construction Management industry. Through his CM leadership, some of America’s most well-known buildings have been brought to successful completion.”-—Bruce D’Agostino, president and chief executive, Construction Management Association of America

“Building Tall will provide readers with insights into John Tishman’s career as a visionary engineer, landmark builder, and great businessman. Responsible for some of the construction world’s most magnificent projects, John is one of the preeminent alumni in the history of Michigan Engineering. His perspectives have helped me throughout my time as dean, and his impact will influence generations of Construction Management professionals and students.”-—David C. Munson, Jr., Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, University of Michigan

John L. Tishman serves as Chairman Emeritus of Tishman Realty & Construction, now a division of Aecom. Mr. Tishman was personally in charge of such landmark projects as the World Trade Center in New York, the renovation of Carnegie Hall, the John Hancock Center in Chicago, the Century Club Theme Center in Los Angeles, and the Walt Disney Company’s EPCOT in Orlando. On the board of trustees for The New School University since 1981, he served two terms as the board’s chairman. He has also served on the boards of New York University Medical School, Carnegie Hall, and the Central Park Conservancy. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan College of Engineering.

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Whoever Fights Monsters

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“Whoever Fights Monsters is now more than 20 years old … but it’s not dated …. A strong, fast-moving read, detailed but not pedantic, and the voice is knowledgeable without bragginess or condescension. An A-plus plane read.” Sarah D. Bunting, editor-in-chief and publisher of The Blotter, a crime books blog, March 2013.

Whoever Fights Monsters by Robert K. Ressler, Tom ShachtmanWhoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI

Face-to-face with some of America’s most terrifying killers, FBI veteran and ex-Army CID colonel Robert Ressler learned from them how to identify the unknown monsters who walk among us—and to put them behind bars. Now the man who coined the phrase “serial killer” and advised Thomas Harris on The Silence of the Lambs shows how he was able to track down some of today’s most brutal murderers. Just as it happens in The Silence of the Lambs, Ressler uses the evidence at a crime scene to put together a psychological profile of the killers. From the victims they choose, to the way they kill, to the often grotesque souvenirs they take with them—Ressler unlocks the identities of these vicious killers of the police, so they can be captured. And with his discovery that serial killers share certain violent behaviors, Ressler’s gone behind prison walls to hear the bizarre first-hand stories countless convicted murderers. Getting inside the mind of a killer to understand how and why he kills is one of the FBI’s most effective ways of helping police bring in killers who are still at large. Join Ressler as he takes you on the hunt for toady’s most dangerous psychopaths. It is a terrifying journey you will not forget.

The late Robert K. Ressler coined the term “serial killer” in the 1970s when he was part of the FBI’s famed Behavioral Sciences Unit.

In his autobiography, written with Tom Shachtman, Ressler recounts in straightforward, fact-filled style his interviews with such infamous murderers as Edmund Kemper, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, William Heirens and Ted Bundy. Onetime head of the FBI’s Criminal Personality Research Project, Ressler corrects the misleading, romanticized criminal profiles found in the novels of Thomas Harris and Mary Higgins Clark; recalls how he compiled his ground-breaking, close-to-the-mark profiles of actual criminals who were later apprehended; and tells how he worked with mental-health professionals to explore killers’ personality traits. Before Ressler, the FBI knew surprisingly little about dangerous criminals. His quest–catching and understanding criminals–absorbs and unsettles the reader, placing true crime in the real world. Adapted from Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Absolute Zero

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Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold by Tom ShachtmanABSOLUTE ZERO AND THE CONQUEST OF COLD. Available in paperback, and also as an e-book.

In a sweeping yet marvelously concise science adventure story, rich with historical characters, including Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, ABSOLUTE ZERO AND THE CONQUEST OF COLD takes the reader on a journey in which the extraordinary secrets of cold are teased apart and mastered, bringing advances in civilization and comfort. Starting in the 1600s with an alchemist’s attempt to air-condition Westminster Abbey, the story unfolds over several centuries, as early nineteenth-century merchants sell Walden Pond ice to tropical countries, and late nineteenth-century competing scientists pursue absolute zero with as much fervor as the contemporary races toward the North and South Poles. Today, as the final part of the book shows, ultracold remains one of sciences most important frontiers.

“A lovely, fascinating book which brings science to life.” — Alan Lightman, author of Einstein’s Dreams.

“Analyzes the social impact of the chill factor, explains the science of cold and tells the curious tales behind inventions like the thermometer, the fridge and the thermos flask …. Excellent use of analogies … [an] astonishing observation … a fascinating finale …. Recounts the history of cold with passion and clarity.” –- New York Times Book Review

“Intriguing … a disarming portrait of an exquisite, ferocious, world-ending extreme.” — Kirkus “An absorbing account to chill out with.” –- Booklist

“The pursuit of absolute zero may not, at first, seem important or exciting … But Shachtman –- who has a gift for telling scientific adventure stories –- has done a wonderful job of conveying the excitement …. This is a truly wonderful book: purchase this before it becomes an episode of Nova. –- Library Journal (starred review)

“Shachtman … holds the reader’s attention with the skill of a novelist as he relates the 400-year effort to fill out what scientists have called ‘the map of Frigor.’” –- Scientific American

“This esoteric scientific adventure story –- as keenly pursued as the simultaneous quest for the arctic regions –- is masterfully told …. In many ways an absolute delight, chock-full of quirky characters questing for ever-lower temperatures and discovering fundamental properties of matter along the way …. Shachtman has achieved an enormous feat, combining science, biography and analysis into a compelling narrative full of explosions, obsessed experimentalists and unexpected revelations.” – Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“For a subject bound to leave many readers, well, cold, [Shachtman] has compiled here a surprisingly fascinating account of what cold is and the role it has played and plays in our lives and nature.” — Copley News Service

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