Don't Know Much

For Educators and Librarians

Dear Teachers, Librarians, and other History Educators, 

There is a lot of history to talk about. Presidents. Slavery. Pandemics. Civics. Democracy.

In the midst of our current crisis, while many schools are using remote and hybrid learning, I will offer a limited number of  virtual visits to Middle- and High Schools, subject to my availability, on my three books listed below.

You may request a virtual visit on the topic of “Democracy and Dictatorships,” the subject of my book, STRONGMAN: The Rise of Five Dictators and the Fall of Democracy  (Holt Books, October 6, 2020). The book provides accounts of five of the most murderous dictators in modern history: Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Saddam Hussein.

In the wake of the election and the events of January 6, 2021, the issue of civic engagement is more important than ever. I hope to speak with Middle School and High School students and their teachers about what democracy is, what threatens democracy today, and how to protect it.

This is also a good time to talk about what we can learn from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic during World War I. It is the subject of my book MORE DEADLY THAN WAR.

Finally, I continue to offer a limited number of virtual visits about my book IN THE SHADOW OF LIBERTY: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives, now available in paperback.

In it, I tell the stories of five people who were enslaved by four American presidents — Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Andrew Jackson.

  • BILLY LEE, who became George Washington’s valet and fought in the American Revolution alongside him.
  • ONA JUDGE, who escaped from Washington’s Philadelphia home—only to be tracked down by the president’s men.
  • ISAAC GRANGER, who survived the devastation of Yorktown before returning to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.
  • PAUL JENNINGS, who was present at the burning of James Madison’s White House during the War of 1812.
  • ALFRED JACKSON, who was born into slavery at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, survived the Civil War, and lived at the plantation into the 20th century.

The sessions can utilize Skype or other online platforms such as Zoom.

To be considered for a classroom visit, please use this Contact Page.

When you write, please indicate school location, grade level, and class size. (Multiple classes are welcomed.) The sessions run from 45 minutes to one hour with ample opportunity for your students to ask questions.

The Latest From My Blog

When Robin Hood Was Blacklisted

Banned Books Week begins on October 1. Book bans are rising sharply. In 1953, the American Library Association said, “The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack.” This post offers some historical context.

Read More

GREAT SHORT BOOKS: A Year of Reading–Briefly

“An exciting guide to all that the world of fiction has to offer in 58 short novels…that, ‘like a first date,’ offer pleasure and excitement without commitment.” –The New York Times Book Review

Read More