Monday, October 31, 2011

David O. Stewart

David O. Stewart's books include the highly acclaimed The Summer of 1787, the bestselling account of the writing of the Constitution, and Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy. He has practiced law in Washington, D.C., for more than a quarter of a century, defending accused criminals and challenging government actions as unconstitutional. Stewart has argued appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and was law clerk to Justice Lewis Powell of that Court.

His new book is American Emperor: Aaron Burr's Challenge to Jefferson's America.

Earlier this month I asked Stewart what he was reading. His reply:
Reading great narrative histories helps get me through the fretful days surrounding the launch of my new book, American Emperor, and I have enjoyed several excellent books in this stretch. Adam Goodheart’s 1861 offers a terrific view of how a nation goes to war, assembling fascinating scraps of social history into a powerful mosaic. I’ve read a lot of Civil War history, but 1861 taught me a great deal I did not know.

Three other recent books have focused on America at the turn of the last century. James McGrath Morris’s Pulitzer gives a fascinating, three-dimensional look at that brilliant, hopelessly neurotic, blind newspaper czar. The Five of Hearts by Patricia O’Toole tracks Henry Adams (a favorite of mine) and his circle. Her portrayal of the bookish and waspish Adams makes him a most sympathetic character. The Spanish-American War is the subject of Evan Thomas’ excellent The War Lovers, a wonderful portrait of Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge.

I loved the first 600 pages of John Sayles’ new historical novel set in the same era -- Moments in the Sun -- but I couldn’t make it through the last 350 pages. Books that long do ask a good deal of the reader; more than I had to give, in this instance.
Visit David O. Stewart's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: Impeached.

My Book, The Movie: American Emperor.

--Marshal Zeringue