Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dean King to Speak at MRL

Tales from History of Adventure and Survival

Dean King, the well-regarded author of narrative historical non-fiction, is speaking at the Main Branch of the Massanutten Regional Library on Thursday, November 7th at 7:00pm.  A Richmond native, he was born in 1962 and graduated from the University of North Carolina and New York University.  As a post graduate, King spent ten years in New York City mostly writing for up-scale magazines and other periodicals.
            During the second half of the 1990’s, his publications focused on maritime subjects, some of which he co-authored with the naval historian John B. Hattendorf.  Two of these volumes are companion guides to Patrick O’Brian’s well-researched and detailed Aubrey-Maturin maritime novels set during the European conflicts in the early 1800s.  In 2000, King also published an unauthorized biography of O’Brian that was marketed shortly after O’Brian’s death.[i]
In 2004, Dean King published Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival (Little Brown and Company) based on the early 19th century account by Captain James Riley, who with his crew were wrecked off the coast of Africa and were enslaved by Arab tribesmen.  In addition to relying on contemporary accounts of these experiences by the survivors, King, partly financed by the National Geographic’s Adventure magazine, traced the gruesome journey of these sailors across the Sahara.  This book appeared on a number of best sellers’ lists and in November 2004, it reached number six on Amazon’s best history books of 2004. 

King’s 2010 publication Unbound: A True Story of War, Love, and Survival (Little Brown and Company) followed the journey of the thirty women who undertook the “Long March” in 1934 with Mao Zedong.  During the four and a half years of research for this book, King took two trips to China to trace the women’s journey.  These trips allowed the author to interview the last woman survivor of the march and to experience part of the women’s journey with an eight day trek in the Dagushan Mountains along the Tibetan border.
His most recent book, published in spring 2013, is The Feud: The Hatfields and the McCoys; The True Story (Little Brown and Company) – a well-known and always fascinating tale of truths and myths.  Though most of the feuding took place in the 1880’s, King extended the timeline for the confrontations from the Civil War to 1912 in an attempt to clear the underbrush of fiction.
Dean King endeared himself to librarians during an interview that appeared in three years ago.   When asked to share helpful research tips, he answered that among the useful things about library resources are the research librarians.  “They are an amazing resource and are often more than happy to have their skills put to good use.”  Thank you Dean King.
The MRL welcomes all to its program featuring Dean King and to pick up a copy of one of his books.

[i] With Hattendorf: Every Man Will Do His Duty: An Anthology of Firsthand Accounts From the Age of Nelson (1997); A Sea of Words: a Lexicon and Companion for Patrick O’Brian’s Seafaring Tales (1995) also with J. Worth Estes; and Harbors and High Seas: an Atlas and Geographical Guide to the Complete Aubrey-Maturin Novels of Patrick O’Brian (2000).

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