The Story of Writing Where the Light is Dim: Third Anniversary
July 30, 2014
I started writing my blog three years ago, in July 2011. At the time, I provided a brief assessment of the state of my life and career, and I promised a yearly update. In July 2012 and July 2013, I posted a report card on my achievements as well as my disappointments. This posting, my 79th since I began blogging, will serve as my July 2014 update.
It has been another superb year for my writing career. In May 2014, I published my eighth book, The Greatest Criminal Cases: Changing the Course of American Law. I posted a blog about the book in May 2014. At the time, I mentioned that I hoped to use the book in the criminal justice courses that I taught online for the University of South Dakota (USD). Alas, I won’t teach any future courses at USD.
My department chair informed me in June 2014 that the student feedback on the courses was mostly negative. The consensus was that my expectations and requirements were much too rigorous for the students enrolled in the course. Always eager to please tuition-paying students, university administrators decided that unless I agreed to make substantial changes (i.e., water down the materials and provide higher grades), I would have to sever my ties to the university. I chose the latter option. In one sense, I was saddened to leave USD. I spent five years teaching criminal law and criminal procedure there, and I was just beginning to master the nuances of the material. In another sense, though, I did not enjoy online teaching — I missed the face-to-face interactions with live people — and, with a few notable exceptions, I was appalled at the relatively low caliber of students who enrolled in the courses. Suffice it to say that both USD and I were happy to see me move on to greener pastures.
I continue teaching face-to-face classes at Kennesaw State University, and I have applied to teach political science courses at Georgia Gwinnett College. Apparently, I will remain at least partially immersed in academe for the foreseeable future.
Never content to rest on my laurels, I have forged ahead with future writing projects. I am engaged in three projects at the moment. The first book, now under contract with Lynne Rienner Publishers, is called Trouble Done Bore Me Down: The Politics of Race in America, 1880s-1940s. The work will be a sequel to my study of race relations from the 1830s through the 1880s, Coming For to Carry Me Home: Race in America from Abolitionism to Jim Crow. Another book project is tentatively titled The Safety of the Kingdom: Government Responses to Terrorism and Subversion, a sequel to my history book Terrorist Attacks on American Soil: From the Civil War Era to the Present. I have a contract with Skyhorse Publishing for The Safety of the Kingdom. Both manuscripts are due at the respective publishers in March 2015 with release dates sometime in 2016. Finally, I have submitted a book proposal called Environmental Sustainability and American Public Administration: Past, Present, and Future to Lexington Books. I hope to have a decision on that project in the fall of this year.
As for my personal life, I continue caring for my grandchildren, Ellie (age 5) and Emma (age 8 months). I am exhausted at the end of the evening, but life is good. I am a happy guy.