Don't Know Much

For Educators and Librarians

Dear Teachers, Librarians, and other History Educators, 

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

Please be in touch if you would like to explore the possibility of a virtual visit on my books listed below as well as the works in my earlier “Don’t Know Much About®” series. Because we still Don’t Know Much About® History.

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.

After the events of January 6, 2021, the enormous impact of recent Supreme Court decisions, and the current presidential campaign, the issue of civic engagement is more important than ever. I will speak with Middle School and High School students and their teachers about what democracy is, what threatens democracy today, and how to protect it.

As the question of what we teach about the history of slavery and racism in American history is at the forefront of educational debates, 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.

Finally, this is still a good time to discuss what we can learn from the 1918 influenza pandemic during World War I. It is the subject of my book MORE DEADLY THAN WAR: The Hidden History of the Spanish Flu and the First World War.

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

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.

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