Books & essays (or Yes, I write a lot)

For specific topics, see the pages on Sculpture, Painting, Opera, Literature, Movies & TV, and History / Politics / technology, and Fearless Foreign Food.

2016

  •  Hamilton: An American Musical: an ongoing series of blog posts with primary sources, images and maps, and more
  • Favorites at the Metropolitan Museum: an ongoing series of blog posts
  • For other blog post topics, see the tag cloud at lower right

2015

  • In the works: a Guides Who Know app on Central Park, and Art History through Innovators: Painting.
  • Innovators in Sculpture (Kindle): Focuses on innovations that gave the artists who created them—and all artists who followed—greater power to make viewers stop, look, and think about sculptures. Five thousand years in about 2 hours. This is a revised version of Art History through Innovators: Sculpture (on Medium.com, mid-2015).
  • “How to Introduce Your Kid to Art” (Medium.com): Advice from a former homeschooling parent and current art historian.
  • Fearless Foreign Foods: Poland” – main ingredients and dishes in Polish food.
  • Yemen, In Brief  (Kindle) – History & culture of Yemen; a survey written in 2000, after the attack on the USS Cole in Aden harbor, and published on Kindle with a brief update covering the past 15 years, plus 17 photos and maps.
  • “About Us” page evaluations for the blog of CorporateHistory.net (2010-2015) – After writing over a hundred of these, I’m one of the world’s authorities on what works and what doesn’t.

2014

2013

  • Amadeus Revisited” – For 20 years, I refused to watch Amadeus because I couldn’t stand the way Mozart was represented. When I finally did watch it again, I realized I’d been misinterpreting it.

2012

  • Getting More Enjoyment from Art You Love (Kindle) – A favorite artwork can provide you with enjoyment and inspiration, help you recall important events of the past, and help you project a course into the future. Get even more enjoyment from a work of art you love by approaching it with an active mind: studying its details and asking questions about its meaning.
  • Alexander Hamilton: A Brief Biography (Kindle) – Short biography of Alexander Hamilton (with lots of quotes from the man himself); originally presented during a walking tour of Manhattan’s four sculptures of Hamilton.
  • Bernini’s Innovations (Kindle) –  Innovations by Bernini that changed the history of sculpture, followed by a brief chronological survey of this Baroque sculptor’s life and major works; with dozens of color illustrations.
  • From Portraits to Puddles: New York Memorials from the Civil War to the World Trade Center Memorial (Reflecting Absence) (Kindle) – Surely we can offer the victims of 9/11 a better tribute than Reflecting Absence, a gloomy piece of landscape architecture with lists of names. But what makes an effective tribute? What makes a memorable memorial?
  • How to Analyze and Appreciate Paintings (Kindle) – Via discussions of Holbein’s Sir Thomas More and Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert, we work through a series of questions to help you systematically observe the details of a painting, state what effect they have, and set them in the context of the rest of the work. As we go, we work out tentative themes and then a final statement of the theme; and finally, we evaluate the works in emotional, esthetic, philosophical, and art historical terms.
  • Review of Arminio in Armenia, performed by Opera Feroce. (Loved it!)
  • Seismic Shifts in Subject and Style: 19th-c. French Painting and Philosophy (Kindle) – What caused the dramatic shifts in subject and style over the course of the 19th century – from Madame Recamier, by Jacques-Louis David (1800), to Luxe, Calme, et Volupte, by Matisse (1904)? This 30,000-word essay is a combination of art analysis and philosophical detection.
  • Step-by-Step Kindle Publishing (Kindle) –  Geared toward those of us who would rather be writing books than writing computer code; an overview of the principles of ebook design, followed by step-by-step instructions arranged so you can easily find the parts that apply to your book.
  • The Statue of Liberty: Timeless Art, Political Hot Topic (Kindle) – A look at the Statue of Liberty as a timeless work of art and as a political statement by those who conceived it and by their contemporaries in the late 19th century. Includes archival illustrations, close-up views of Liberty, quotes from sculptor Bartholdi and his contemporaries, and tips on photographing outdoor sculptures in New York.

2010

  • Internationalism (Key Concepts in American History series) (hardcover) – A work-for-hire high-school history text on American foreign policy from World War II to ca. 2000.
  • Tips for Photographing Sculptures.”
  • VersaQuill Copywriting Workbook (Amazon CreateSpace) – A systematic way to generate ideas for copywriting, and to check what you’ve produced against accepted “best practices” of prominent copywriters from the last century or so. I pull this off the shelf every time I need to promote a new book or product.

2009

2008

  • Upward Glance: Chicago (screensaver) – 200 high-resolution photos of Chicago, mostly the architecture in the Loop and Michigan Avenue.
  • Upward Glance: New York (screensaver) – 1,500+ photos taken in New York City and nearby, ranging from skylines to pedestal clocks, from phalanxes of skyscrapers to brownstone facades, from Central Park scenes to sailboats in Suffolk County.

2007

  • Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide (hardcover & paperback) – 54 monuments, ranging from major figures in American history to city icons, and with works by some of America’s best sculptors. Each monument has an “About the Subject” and an “About the Sculpture” section.

2006

2005

  • On Studying History” – An essay written when I was homeschooling my daughter, with 2 important points to remember as you wade through the ages.

2004

2003

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Real World” – “Why do I feel the Hellmouth is gaping because Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s last episode airs this month? After all, I have no immediate, ‘practical’ reason for watching it. I don’t need lessons in killing demons, or martial arts, or dressing twenty-chic. So what’s the appeal? …” (A thank-you of sorts to Joss Whedon.)
  • Forgotten Delights: The Producers (paperback) – First in what was intended to be a series of self-published books on outdoor sculptures in Manhattan; includes essays on explorers, inventors, engineers, businessmen, and workers, some of which I still haven’t published anywhere else.

2000

1999

  • Vermeer’s Geographer” – “Think of a moment of insight – a moment when you had an integration of such scope that it made you stop writing, stop speaking, stop moving, so you could concentrate on working through the implications of that thought. What would you give for a reminder of that moment when you were tired, or had writer’s block, or when you just needed to remember that one man improves, and the whole of mankind progresses, by such moments of insight? …”

1998

  • MacMonnies’ Nathan Hale” – “MacMonnies’ Nathan Hale is a reminder not of what the Founding Fathers stood for, but of how they stood for it. …”
  • Review of The Scarlet Pimpernel (Broadway play) – Here’s why I loved the first version – although I’d be happy to see any of the versions again.

1991

  • A Checklist for Healthy Skeptics” (The Freeman) – “We in the United States are becoming terrified of our own technology. Nuclear energy will zap us into early graves. Alar and DDT will give us cancer. The greenhouse effect will melt the polar ice-caps and Manhattan will be submerged. Wouldn’t it be better to live ‘in harmony with nature,’ that is, without all our high-tech devices but in peace and health and security? – Or would it, perhaps, be better to ask first how much truth there is in the media hype that bombards us with such dire predictions every day?”
  • Nuclear Power: How It Works and Why It’s Better Than Other Fuels” – Pretty self-explanatory title!