Carroll County group schedules date with history

Books: Three authors will sign their works today at an event sponsored by historical society.

July 02, 2004|By Jessie Parker | Jessie Parker,SUN STAFF

The Historical Society of Carroll County is holding a book signing today with three authors who took different approaches to historical writing, including one who co-wrote two novels with former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

William R. Forstchen, co-author of Grant Comes East and Gettysburg, will be signing copies of both novels. Copies of both books, also signed by Gingrich, will be available.

Also signing their works will be local historians G. Donald Riley, author of the biography David Shriver: Pioneer and Patriot of Piedmont Maryland, and Tyler J. Boone, editor of Taneytown: Images of America, a collection of historical photos.

The book signing will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Shellman House, 206 E. Main St., Westminster. The event may include a question-and-answer session, but it is primarily an opportunity for people to meet the authors, said Barbara Lilly, executive director of the society.

Riley and Boone have been members of the society for most of their lives. Boone has been a volunteer in the research library for about 20 years, and Riley has been a history buff since he was a child, Lilly said.

Forstchen, a member of his local historical society in Black Mountain, N.C., contacted the Historical Society of Carroll County when he was doing research for Gettysburg.

Through the society, he met local historian Thomas LeGore, co-author of Just South of Gettysburg, who Forstchen said has been "a tremendous help."

"I know how much work the volunteers and the paid employees do, and the Carroll County team is top notch," Forstchen said.

He held a book signing in Westminster last year for Gettysburg, and returned this spring to lead a discussion at the annual Maryland in the Civil War conference at the historical society.

Taneytown: Images of America was a joint project between the society, credited as the author of the book, and Boone. The book contains about 200 historic images.

"The book sets up some very interesting connections between Taneytown and the Civil War," Lilly said. "It's been very well-received."

The society published David Shriver: Pioneer and Patriot of Piedmont Maryland, Riley's biography of the state legislator of 20 years who helped write the state Constitution.

"It's a very important biography and also a very important cultural history of one of the significant leaders of Central Maryland, who happened to live just on the edge of Westminster," Lilly said.

Riley said his interest in Shriver began after he moved to a house built by Shriver on Old New Windsor Pike. Shriver and his wife, Rebecca, are buried in a graveyard across the street, which Riley maintains.

Forstchen, an associate professor at Montreat College in North Carolina, started his collaboration with Gingrich, a friend of 10 years, in 1998 with Gettysburg. They recently signed a contract for a sequel to Grant Comes East, with the working title A War to be Won. Forstchen said there may be more sequels.

"I've been into the Civil War since I was about 5 years old," he said. "I've always just enjoyed writing and reading fiction, because it's what people enjoy and it can be used to teach."

Forstchen called the Gettysburg campaign the great "what if."

Baltimore was the third-largest city in the country, and if the South had won Gettysburg, Forstchen believes that the political and military ramifications for Maryland would have been significant.

Intrigued with the decision-making process at Gettysburg, it was natural to explore other possibilities of the battle through what Forstchen likes to call "active history," rather than alternative history.

"Besides, if we follow traditional history, people will know how the story ends," he said.

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