William Martin Books

Patriot's Day, The Boston Marathon, 2013

Washington, who "had learned the innermost secret of the brave" and put that knowledge into action one Christmas night. (painted by Rembrandt Peale).

Lincoln, a month after signing the Proclamation of Thanksgiving in 1863.

Boston's Back Bay, the locationof my first novel, viewed from the State House dome, ca 1858.

Inauguration Day, 1861. They had no idea of what was coming.

A Place in the Present Where History Meets Fiction

Patriot's Day in Boston

April 16, 2013

Tags: Boston, Patriot's Day, Boston Marathon, American Revolution, Boston Public Library, New York, Oklahoma City

I have not blogged in some time, but I offer this today. I wrote it last night, refined it a bit this morning. THIS, I think is how most Bostonians feel this morning.

I am going to bed. No more to learn tonight. This was a terrible thing on a beautiful day on Boston's biggest annual weekend, when we celebrate the beginning of the American Revolution with the oldest marathon in the world. Somebody - or somebodies - saw a twenty-six mile long target of opportunity. They might be Islamic terrorists. They might be homegrown wackos. We don't know yet. But (more…)

Here's to You, Mrs. Levinson

January 7, 2013

Tags: Downton Abbey, Shirley MacLaine, Edwardian, Lord Crawley, Maggie Smith

"Downton Abbey" is back.
This is good news. Things did seem a bit soapier in the first two hours of the new season. And they sure threw a lot of plot at us. But in the next few months of Sundays, we can look forward to more doomed love affairs, more worlds colliding amidst Edwardian splendor, more personal drama driven by the relentless turn of history’s wheel, more crises large and small, upstairs and downstairs, more great lines for Maggie Smith. (more…)

A tale of the glories of Christmases long, long ago...

December 26, 2012

Tags: Christmas, 1776, Washington, Trenton, Delaware, Les Miserables, Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, Trevelyan

Hope you've all had a great Christmas. For us, a wonderful six-day celebration winds down today with lunch and a viewing of LES MISERABLES. But as I sit here on the day after Christmas, five pounds heavier and just about out of holiday energy, I'm thinking of a Christmas song that extols "tales of (more…)

Spielberg's Lincoln

December 19, 2012

Tags: Lincoln, Steven Spielberg, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals, The Lincoln Letter, the Civil War, Gettysbug, Miami Book Fair, Library of Congress

It has been a busy month... so busy that I haven't added anything to this space since Thanksgiving. My apologies to those of you who follow these posts. I will try to be a better blogger (so long as it doesn't interefere with my writing). But the arrival of Spielberg's Lincoln has spurred interest in "all things Lincoln," so I've been out there meeting people, talking about the book, (more…)

THANKSGIVING: The American Holiday

November 22, 2012

Tags: Pilgrims, Lincoln, Wampanoag, Washington, Revolution, Proclamation, turkey, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving: the most American of holidays and the one with the longest history.
Start with the Pilgrims. When I was researching Cape Cod, a historian at Plimoth Plantation, the Pilgrims living museum, told me, “ The difference between the Pilgrims and us: they had all the big things figured out, starting with their place in (more…)

Abe’s Advice for Campaigners and Future Presidents

October 21, 2012

Tags: Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals, debates, Emancipation Proclamation, Executive Order, Senator Charles Sumner, The Lincoln Letter

The first two debates are over. Tonight, Barack and Mitt throw down again. The campaign is in its third act. And what would Lincoln be thinking about it now? What advice would he give? Here are ten suggestions Lincoln might make.


Keep Your Counsel. Better to stay silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt. Romney should remember this, even when he’s speaking before small audiences of like-minded people. It’s unlikely that Lincoln would ever say anything so damning about the American electorate as Romney did about the 47%. And there were no secret recording devices back then, no electronic gotcha opportunities. Still, Lincoln was careful to say nothing until he was ready to say it. For example, he would never allow anyone else to expound for him on Emancipation until he issued the Proclamation. And he was careful not to say it until the public was ready to hear it. When Senator Sumner urged him to free the slaves of the Fourth of July, 1862, he simply said, “Wait, wait, Senator. Emancipation is a thunderbolt that will keep.” (more…)

A Blog's Title

October 14, 2012

Tags: Back Bay, Boston, Peter Fallon, Evangeline, The Lincoln Letter, Abraham Lincoln, Washington, Washington DC, historical fiction, mystery, Civil War

Thirty-two years ago, I published my first novel. It was called Back Bay. It "starred" a young graduate student in history named Peter Fallon, who meets a girl named Evangeline Carrington and together, they go hunting for a Paul Revere tea set buried beneath the streets of Boston. So... a literal buried treasure yarn, with plenty of buried family secrets, too. But I knew that to sell my novel to the publishers and excite the readers who had never heard of me, it would have to be something more.
So I decided to add another dimension. I would follow the passage of the treasure through time. I would bring its history to life.In parallel chapters, the story of Peter and Evangeline would alternate with historical chapters, so that we would see the way in which past and present affected one another.
It must have worked, because Back Bay became an instant bestseller and people are still reading it. They are stll reading the Peter and Evangeline adventures, too, including the latest, The Lincoln Letter, about the search for Lincoln's diary. In the novel, Washington DC comes to life as both the shiny, sleek city of today and the muddy, intrigue-filled Civil War capital. Two stories reverberate , and we are reminded, yet again, that in American politics and history, in human nature itself, the more things change, the more they stay the same. (more…)