Edith and Woodrow


Less than a year after President Woodrow Wilson’s first wife had died, he met Edith Bolling Galt, widowed, lovely, adventurous, independent in spite of a genteel Southern upbringing, and the proprietress of Washington’s best jewelry store. She instantly captivated the president, and with an instinctive grasp of politics became his trusted advisor. Following a brief, impassioned courtship — documented in a series of letters revealed to the public for the first time in this book – they married, Wilson braving public censure and private intrigue to do so.

This book is the story of the love that sustained a president through domestic turmoil, world war, triumph and tragedy, and that brought Edith Wilson so close to wielding power, when the president fell ill, that she became known as America’s first female president, a title she was at pains to deny.

“Shachtman’s analysis of the Wilson-Galt relationship is handled intelligently and unpretentiously. He does not canonize or romanticize his subjects — he draws them as they were, faulty lines and all. He knows his history and writes about it in colorful, compact prose.” Hartford Courant

“Shachtman’s handling of EDITH AND WOODROW is both elegant and revealing. Not least among the book’s virtues is its relative brevity and its succinct interweaving of just enough — but not too much — of the monumental political events of the Wilson era.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“The best personal history of Wilson.” Dr. Arthur A. Link, director of The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Princeton University.

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The Gilded Leaf

The Gilded Leaf by Tom Shachtman & Patrick ReynoldsTHE GILDED LEAF: TRIUMPH, TRAGEDY, AND TOBACCO: Three Generations of the R. J. Reynolds Family and Fortune, by Patrick Reynolds and Tom Shachtman

THE GILDED LEAF is the riveting, dramatic saga of the R. J. Reynolds tobacco family, one of America’s richest and most intensely private clans.

R.J. was the original founder of the company that became part of RJR Nabisco, which in 1988 was involved in the largest business takeover in history.

Spanning three generations, the Reynolds story moves from the triumphs of founder and corporate genius R. J. to the dissipation, scandal, and tragedy of his children, Dick and Smith, and to the difficulties and inherited money that plagued and enabled his six grandsons.

There is a redemptive close to the story, when grandson Patrick Reynolds becomes a leading anti-smoking advocate.

THE GILDED LEAF presents a complete account of the family who captured, spent — and eventually reclaimed — the American dream.

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“Fascinating…Illuminating…stunning detail.” Chicago Tribune

“Fascinating insight into the evolution of a family over three generations that is simply a good read…panoramic sweep, bitter irony and tragic touches.”Detroit Free Press

“Fascinating insider’s view of three generations of the R. J. Reynolds tobacco family…compelling.” Richmond Times-Dispatch

“An altogether fascinating story [that] quickly builds speed and interest and becomes an absorbing story of fortune and misfortune.” Washington Post Book World

“Readers of this captivating account may need to remind themselves that it is not fiction. There are colorful characters, a family rising from humble beginnings to attain fabulous wealth and power, scandal and tragedy wrought by excess—and an irony-laden finale.” Publishers Weekly

“A courageous and worthwhile book. More than an entertainment, it documents the danger of parents who confuse money with love.” New York Times

“Fiction doesn’t get any better than this. It’s the kind of true-life story Hollywood scriptwriters dream about — murder, mayhem, messy divorces, titillating escapades of a tobacco dynasty, souls bared to the tabloids, racing through life in the fast lane…The Reynolds family makes TV’s ‘Dynasty’ look downright hokey.” The Washington Times

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Torpedoed: An American Businessman's True Story of Secrets, Betrayal, Imprisonment in Russia, and the Battle to Set Him Free by Tom Shachtman & Edmond D. PopeTorpedoed: An American Businessman’s True Story of Secrets, Betrayal, Imprisonment in Russia, and the Battle to Set Him Free. By Edmond D. Pope and Tom Shachtman

It was the year 2000. Edmond D. Pope, former U.S. Naval Intelligence officer, then a private businessman, was in Russia looking for new technology to import to the United States.

Two things extraneous to him would come together to make his life into a nightmare. A top-secret Western intelligence attempt to steal one of Russia’s crown jewels, the plans to a submarine torpedo that traveled at an astonishing 300 miles per hour. And the coming to power in Russia of a new leader for the country, former KGB chief Vladimir Putin.

In TORPEDOED!, Ed Pope tells the real story of what led to his becoming the first American since Gary Powers to be convicted of espionage in Russia. Combining a gripping account of his arrest, trial and 253-day imprisonment with a deeply disturbing look at today’s Russia, Pope’s harrowing story reads like a Le Carré novel come to life. And with a large dollop of espionage-insider information and secret submarine warfare technology, Ed Pope’s harrowing memoir will remind readers of the best of Tom Clancy.

“Written with Tom Shachtman, this volume moves as quickly as its name suggests …. Pope gets thrown in prison within the first few pages. Accused of spying for the United States, he suffers indignities (strip searches, “mind games”) and intimidation (he’s told he belongs with terrorists and “serious criminals”) from the new state security guards. The indictment stems from his interest in the country’s “sensitive” Shkval torpedo, but what worries Pope the most, once he’s officially charged with espionage is his memory of “126 special clearances on matters of high importance to the security of the United States.” After all, the interrogations are intense and “you don’t just scrub [what you know] from your memory.” Pope’s fight for freedom is hampered by the questionable justice of the Russian legal system and a frustrating lack of support from the U.S. Embassy …. This is a page-turner, a great spy story that nearly encourages nostalgia for Cold War spy politics.” — Publishers Weekly.

“Ed Pope’s striking story tells us exactly what it’s like to be an innocent American caught up in Russia’s unchanged, Soviet-style judicial system still dominated by the Soviet secret police …. No spy novel could be as authentic – or as devastating.” – Thomas R. Pickering, Ambassador to Russia, 1993-96.

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Dead Center

Dead Center by Shiya Ribowsky, Tom Shachtman DEAD CENTER: BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE WORLD’S LARGEST MEDICAL EXAMINER’S OFFICE, by Shiya Ribowsky and Tom Shachtman.

A city with eight million people has eight million ways to die

For fifteen years, Shiya Ribowsky worked as a medicolegal investigator in New York City’s medical examiner’s office—the largest, most sophisticated organization of its kind in the world. Utilizing his background in medicine, he led the investigations of more than eight thousand individual deaths, becoming a key figure in some of New York’s most bizarre death cases and eventually taking charge of the largest forensic investigation ever attempted: identifying the dead in the aftermath of the September 11 tragedies.

Now, in this mesmerizing book, Ribowsky pulls back the curtain on the New York City’s medical examiner’s office, giving an enthralling, never-before-seen glimpse into death and the city. Born and raised in New York City’s orthodox Jewish community, Ribowsky seems an unlikely candidate for this macabre profession. Nevertheless he has forsaken a promising career of medical work with the living, descending instead into the realm of the dead, enticed by the challenge of confronting death on a daily basis. Taking you through the vermin-infested Bowery flophouses and posh Upper East Side apartments of the city’s dead, Ribowsky explores in gruesome detail the skeletons that hang in the Big Apple’s closets. Combing through the autopsy room, he also exposes the grim secrets that only a scalpel and a dead body can tell and explains how forensic investigation does not merely solve crimes—it saves lives.

But it is in the aftermath of September 11 that the ME’s office is handed its biggest challenge: to identify as many of the fallen as possible. With poignant descriptions, Ribowsky provides a dramatic account of the office’s diligent and unflappable work with the families of the victims, helping them emerge from the ashes of this tragedy while displaying the strength, grit, intelligence, and compassion that Americans expect from true New Yorkers.

At once compelling and heartbreaking, Dead Center is a story of New York unlike any other, blending the haunting with the sublime, while painting a striking portrait of death (and life) in the city that never sleeps.

Short of becoming a murder victim, this is the closest most of us will ever get to the inner sanctum of a big city morgue. Gut-wrenching and sometimes gut-heaving, DEAD CENTER isn’t merely a chronicle of mayhem – it is a testament to the spirit of those who, in the midst of the grinding horror of urban crime, resist despair, and discover their most profound humanity. – Rene Balcer, executive producer and creator, Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Fascinating. A well written, thoughtful insider’s account of life and death as seen through the eyes, and nose, of one of New York’s elite medicolegal investigators. — Warren Leight, Tony Award-winning playwright of Side Man.

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I Seek My Brethren

I Seek My Brethren: Ralph Goldman and "The Joint" by Tom Shachtman“I SEEK MY BRETHREN”: RALPH GOLDMAN AND “THE JOINT”

The biography of a remarkable man driven by a simple mission—to help those in need, wherever they are found—and the story of an organization, which has, since 1914, sponsored rescue, relief and reconstruction programs throughout the world. Founded over 85 years ago as a response to the plight of Palestinian Jews caught up in the agony of World War I, the American Joint Distribution Committee (alternately known as the “JDC” or “The Joint”) is a nonsectarian, nonpartisan, apolitical, humanitarian relief agency whose work is deliberately low-profile because so much of it depends on secret negotiations with foreign governments. Its mission has taken its representatives to Western Europe after World War II (“the Jewish Marshall Plan”), to the establishment of the state of Israel, to the former Soviet Union, and to Africa and India. As an activist and leader in the organization since the 1960s, Ralph Goldman is the heart and soul of the JDC. He played a key role in Israel’s formative years, and has been on the front lines of the JDC’s humanitarian efforts worldwide.

“Ralph Goldman’s life is magically intertwined with the extraordinary work of the Joint Distribution Committee. [The book] combines historical events with personal experiences. Read it and you will be enriched.” – Elie Wiesel, Nobel Prize Laureate

“This is a fascinating tale of a rare individual – Ralph Goldman – and a unique group, the Joint …. As an orphan of the Holocaust, this book added to my understanding of the events that affected my life. As an educator, I believe this book should be required reading by Jews and non-Jews alike.” – Dr. Ruth Westheimer

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