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Thomas Fleming
Thomas Fleming in 2009
Born July 5, 1927(1927-07-05) (age 94)
Jersey City, New Jersey
Occupation Historian, Novelist

Thomas James Fleming (born July 5, 1927) is an American military historian and historical novelist, with a special interest in the American Revolution.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Fleming was born in 1927 in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of an Irish-American World War I hero who was a leader in Jersey City politics for three decades, starting in the 1920s. At the time, the city was dominated by an Irish political machine. "Irish politics was the be-all and end all." [1] After graduating from St. Peter's Preparatory School, Jersey City in 1945, Fleming spent a year in the United States Navy. He received a Bachelor's degree, with honors, from Fordham University in 1950. He was admitted as an honorary member of The Society of the Cincinnati in 1975.

Literary career[edit | edit source]

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 had published over a dozen well-received novels set against various historical backgrounds.

"I never wanted to be an Irish-American writer, my whole idea was to get across that bridge and be an American writer." [2]

Immersing himself in American history, and writing books on colonial families and military men, has 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,[Clarification needed]

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.[2]

Starting with the Revolution, Fleming says, Americans have been torn by what he calls "the great dichotomy:""Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". October 2009.  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 Vietnam 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.[3]

Professional contributions[edit | edit source]

A frequent guest on C-Span, PBS, A&E and the History Channel, Fleming also contributes articles to such magazines as American Heritage, Military History, History Today, and MHQ, the Quarterly Journal of Military History. He has served as president of the Society of American Historians and the PEN American Center. He also spent ten years as chairman of the New York American Revolution Round Table and is currently the senior scholar at the American Revolution Center at Valley Forge.

Fleming has donated his papers to Boston University's Special Collections. Among the items on file, are the interviews he conducted for a book on West Point and notes from his research on everyday life during the American Revolution. Eventually, he plans to send over a large amount of material on World War I.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]


  • 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. 


  • 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

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. B.U. Bridge, Volume 5, No. 2, 28 September 2001,
  2. 2.0 2.1 Green, Hope. "Historian Thomas Fleming to deliver Abraham S. Burack Lecture". B.U. Bridge. http://www.bu.edu/bridge/archive/2001/09-28/fleming.html. Retrieved 10 December 2013. 
  3. B.U. Bridge, Volume 5, No. 2, 28 September 2001

References[edit | edit source]

  • 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 | edit source]

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