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Posted on Sep 13, 2007 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

10 Questions for Geoffrey C. Ward

Editorial Staff

7. ACG: Do you see any unifying threads or themes in the history you’ve written about or the historical subjects you’ve put on film? In your opinion, are there any overarching lessons that the past can teach us today?

WARD: I’ve always believed that history – which, after all, is the record of the doings of people precisely like ourselves – is intrinsically interesting. It needn’t be relevant to today, but it should always be compellingly told.

8. ACG: How do you craft your work (in books and film), such as The War, in order to reach a broad audience with varying backgrounds and interests?

WARD: I’ve never tried to figure out just who the likely readers or viewers will be. I try to write stories as concisely, accurately and dramatically as I can, and hope an audience will like the result half as much as I enjoy the process of putting it together.


9. ACG: The readers of Armchair General magazine are particularly interested in military history’s famous commanders. Do you have your own ‘short list’ of historical military commanders that you feel deserve to be singled out for exhibiting exceptional leadership?

WARD: The War has less to do with commanders than it does with the men they commanded. But my greatest affection goes to those commanders, like U. S. Grant, who see war for what it really is: brutal, violent and to be ended as swiftly as possible. It’s hard for me to warm up to anyone who romanticizes it, or sees himself as somehow more important than the young men who inevitably do the fighting and the dying.

10. ACG: The War series and your new ‘must-read’ book certainly represent another blockbuster effort. What’s next? Are you working on or planning another project that you might be able to share with our readers?

WARD: I have several ideas in mind, but first I must finish a book on my nefarious ancestor, Ferdinand Ward, the swindler who ruined General Grant. I like to say that Grant’s superb autobiography is my family’s contribution to American literature, since it was written by the dying general in order to pay the debts my great grandfather forced him to incur.

Read ACG ‘s review of Ward’s The War in the November 2007 Armchair General magazine Bookshelf department.

More Books by Geoffrey C. Ward

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2004)

Mark Twain: An Illustrated Biography (with Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns; 2001)

Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (with Ken Burns; 2001)

Jazz: A History of America ‘s Music (with Ken Burns; 2000)

The West: An Illustrated History (1996)

Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship Between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley (1995)

Baseball: An Illustrated History (with Ken Burns; 1994)

A First Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1992)

American Originals: The Private Worlds of Some Singular Men and Women (1992)

The Civil War: An Illustrated History (with Ken Burns and Ric Burns; 1990)

Before the Trumpet: Young Franklin Roosevelt, 1882-1905 (1985)

Lincoln book series (1978)

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1 Comment

  1. I would be most interested in speaking or meeting Geoffrey Ward regarding is upcoming book on India’s partition. Being from Pakistan, I have studied this period and last year I wrote a book on the current US war in Afghanistan. Needless to say, India too is a big part of this conflict which is often lost in the enormity of this war.