Our only president who has died as U.S. commander in chief in war is Franklin Delano Roosevelt - who died of a cerebral hemorrhage or massive stroke on April 12, 1945, only three weeks before the unconditional surrender of the German armed forces he had laid down as implacable Allied policy two years before.
Listening to the stories my colleagues are researching and grappling with - in terms of access to documents, psychological understanding of their subjects, artful composition and determination to extrapolate from an individual's life lessons and insights that we can all learn from - I am each time overwhelmed by joy.
Bad reviews are the bane of an author's post-publication existence.
I'm fascinated by the concept of what I call 'clusters of creativity': the Brontes, the Waughs, families with several geniuses. I'm one of four; competition among siblings has to be a factor.
The moral was, in time of anarchy, tough leadership is the only solution - even though the collateral damage may be heartbreaking. Mrs. Thatcher's strident, take-no prisoners approach was in some ways repugnant, but it was surely necessary.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, in my judgment, will go down in history as one of the four 'great' presidents since the U.S. reluctantly became an empire in World War II; Richard Nixon as the nearest to a sociopath by the time he was compelled to resign.
Regularly, customers asked for a book on Greenwich, and there was none. After all, Elizabeth I was born there. The Observatory is known all over the world; the Royal Naval College is there. So I decided to do it.
Republican isolationists had certainly tied the hands of every U.S. president, year after year - berating Franklin Roosevelt in particular and his attempts to ready the nation for inevitable attack.
After university, I taught secondary school for a while and opened a bookshop in Greenwich, just east of London.
President Ford was taken for a ride by his predecessor, whom he unpardonably pardoned; Jimmy Carter was also taken for a ride, but by his successor, Ronald Reagan, over the return of the Iran hostages.
In publishing 'JFK: Reckless Youth' almost twenty years ago, I had gotten into trouble myself with the Kennedys. Not because of my portrait of JFK - which was highly laudatory - but because I had described his parents, Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, in less-than-flattering terms.
I was an 18-year-old kid, and I was in the heart of things in Washington. My interest in American politics and, particularly, the Kennedys, began then.
In my case, I belong to a group of aspiring and practicing biographers in Boston. We meet once a month for a coupla hours. It's become my lifeline - forgive the pun.
My father had risen in the British Army under the revolutionary aegis of General Montgomery, who was mad about training for battle, not muddling into disaster.
Biography is, simply, the orphan of academia.
As a student, I had stayed with Winston Churchill; later, I had lunched with Harold Macmillan - in fact, had met most of the post-war prime ministers of Great Britain from Douglas-Home to Tony Blair.
President Gerald Ford was no intellectual, but he had served with distinction in combat as a naval gunnery officer and then as Congressman for a quarter century.
We've sweated and torn out our hair trying to reconstruct our chosen lives, to fashion them like literary sculptures, at once monumental and yet human. We've applied all of our intelligence, our empathy, our critical faculties, our compassion - and we think, in our delusion, that it's still 1960, and our work is going to get noticed.
The story of FDR as U.S. Commander in Chief is a heroic war story of a president who had already overcome great adversity in facing polio but who went on to take the reins of our armed forces in the greatest conflagration in human history - on our behalf.
I grew up and lived in a Britain in which strikes and the threat of strikes had become part of the social fabric - and it was not very nice.