Thomas Fleming (historian)

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Thomas Fleming
Thomas Fleming 2009.jpg
Thomas Fleming in 2009
Born (1927-07-05) July 5, 1927 (age 89)
Jersey City, New Jersey
Occupation Historian, Novelist
Notable works The Officers' Wives
Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge

Thomas James Fleming (born July 5, 1927) is an American military historian and historical novelist and the author of over forty nonfiction and fiction titles. His work reflects a particular interest on the American Revolution, with titles such as Liberty! The American Revolution And The Future Of America, Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the History of America and Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge.

He is the only author ever to have won main selections for the Book-of-the-Month Club in both fiction and nonfiction categories. He is best known for his appearances in C-Span, PBS, A&E, and the History Channel.

Early life[edit]

Fleming was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. His father was an Irish-American World War I hero, and his mother taught at the Jersey City Public School System prior to her marriage. After graduating from St. Peter's Preparatory School, Jersey City, in 1945, Fleming joined the US Navy, where he spent a year. He received a bachelor's degree, with honors from Fordham University in 1950.

Positions held[edit]

He has served as president of the Society of American Historians and the PEN American Center. Fleming also spent ten years as chairman of the New York American Revolution Round Table and is an Honorary Member of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati since 1975. He lives now in New York with his wife, Alice, a distinguished writer of books for young people.[1]

Literary career[edit]

After brief stints as a newspaperman and magazine editor, he became a full-time writer in 1960. His first history book, Now We Are Enemies, an account of the Battle of Bunker Hill, was published that same year.

Since then, Fleming has published a long list of books about various events and figures of the Revolutionary era. He has also written about other periods of American history, and has written over a dozen well-received novels set against various historical backgrounds. He said, "I never wanted to be an Irish-American writer, my whole idea was to get across that bridge and be an American writer.[1]

Immersing himself in American history, and writing books on Colonial families and military men, helped him build such a bridge. Besides his well-received early novels, with stories set in the waning days of Irish-American political power, Fleming has published acclaimed biographies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. He has written extensively on the American Revolution and both world wars. Seven of his novels trace the fortunes of one family in particular, the Stapletons, through different historical periods: "These novels are my exemplars of how people are hammered by history, tortured by it, absorbed by it. They say a lot about the American experience."

Starting with the Revolution, Fleming says, Americans have been torn by what he calls "the great dichotomy:"[this quote needs a citation] the clash between American ideals and brutal political and economic realities. It was a conflict he saw firsthand as a sailor aboard the warship USS Topeka in the Pacific at the close of World War II, and later while he was conducting research for a history of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He lived at West Point from 1964 to 1968,) and interviewed officers and their families as the controversy over America's involvement in the Vietnam War intensified.

That was my first really strong exposure to America's secular idealism. These guys have this ideal of duty, honor, country, but in the real world, in the Army, a lot of other things are going on. There's throat-cutting careerism, hostility from the civilian community, and always the possibility that at the bottom line, there's going to be a body bag.[2]



  • Cowpens: "Downright Fighting": the Story of Cowpens. Washington, DC: Division of Publications, National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior,. 1988. ISBN 0912627336. 
  • Now We Are Enemies
  • Beat The Last Drum: The Siege of Yorktown 1781
  • One Small Candle, The Pilgrims' First Year In America, W. W. Norton & Co., 1963.
  • Washington’s Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge. New York: Smithsonian Books/Collins,. 2005. ISBN 0060829621. OCLC 61529854. 
  • The Perils of Peace: America’s Struggle to Survive After Yorktown
  • The Irish-American Chronicle
  • The New Dealers’ War: FDR and the War Within World War II
  • The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I. New York: Basic. 2003. ISBN 046502467X. *
  • Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America
  • Liberty! The American Revolution
  • The Louisiana Purchase. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons,. 2003. ISBN 0471267384. 
  • The Man From Monticello
  • The Man Who Dared The Lightning
  • Benjamin Franklin: a Life in his own Words (ed.)
  • The Forgotten Victory
  • The First Stroke
  • West Point: The Men and Times of the U.S. Military Academy
  • 1776: Year of Illusions
  • The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers
  • George Washington: The General from Profiles in Leadership (ed. Walter Isaacson)
  • A Disease in the Public Mind: A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War. New York: Da Capo Press. 2013. ISBN 9780306821264. OCLC 808413574. 
  • The Great Divide: The Conflict between Washington and Jefferson That Defined a Nation. Da Capo Press. 2015. ISBN 9780306821271. OCLC 880889261. 


  • Liberty Tavern
  • Dreams of Glory
  • The Spoils of War
  • Rulers of the City
  • A Passionate Girl
  • Promises to Keep
  • Remember The Morning
  • The Wages of Fame
  • When This Cruel War Is Over. New York: Forge. 2001. ISBN 9780812576450. OCLC 50793815. 
  • The Secret Trial of Robert E. Lee
  • The Officers’ Wives
  • Time and Tide
  • Over There
  • Loyalties: A Novel of World War II
  • All Good Men
  • The God of Love


  1. ^ "Biography of Thomas Fleming". 
  2. ^ B.U. Bridge, Volume 5, No. 2, September 28, 2001


  • Who's Who in America
  • Contemporary Authors, v. 7–8
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, v. 37
  • B.U. Bridge newspaper, Volume 5, No. 4, 28 September 2001

External links[edit]