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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

History Like You've Never Read It Before: My Freshman History Professor's New Book

         Nine AM, Monday morning, Freshman year, I sat in a tiered classroom with thirty other students ready for History of the United States I, a required class I didn’t choose. Was I excited? Not really. And the professor was teaching three sections of the class that day, so I doubted he was enthused either.
        But then Dr. Alan Snyder took the podium. And I couldn’t rip my eyes away from his PowerPoint slides. 

            I had hated history for the last eighteen years of my short life. Rosemary Sutcliff’s fictional tales of dark love stories set in Roman Britain were as close as I ever came to willingly subjecting myself to history.
            But Dr. Snyder taught that required level 1 American History class in a way that riveted all one hundred Freshman students in our tiny campus body, including me.
            And I didn’t even gripe all the nights I stayed up to midnight trying to make the dates stick in my brain, which was more suited to logic puzzles than memorization. Because during those three hours a week from 9 am to 10 am, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Dr. Snyder captured my imagination with the story of history.
            When Dr. Snyder described how, in 1619, Jamestown imported the first “tobacco” brides, he so captured our minds, that soon after, with the help of some overly-imaginative male students, three-foot-tall balloon aliens invaded the college campus led by the green, inflatable Chairman Icalock, who boldly entreated Freshman girls to attend the spring dance with him.
            I still remember the video Dr. Snyder showed of Lego men acting out a famous battle scene, can’t remember which battle anymore, but it’s been ten years. And every time I salt my eggs, I guiltily hear Dr. Snyder’s voice recounting how Henry Ford wouldn’t hire a man who salted his food before tasting it.
           During my Freshman year, Dr. Snyder mentioned a book he was working on about Whittaker Chambers. And now that it’s going to print, I'm going to interrupt my normal diet of fiction and mental health books to read about history. 

Endorsements for Dr. Alan Snyder's book

The Witness and the President is a fascinating book. The writing, the research, the scholarship, the insights, and an intellectual depth and historical import befitting its weighty subjects, Alan Snyder has produced a superb work. From the book’s title to its final sentences, this is a must-read for anyone interested in not merely the two principal characters but the presidency, the Cold War, international relations, Soviet history, and even the broader history of the 20th century. . . . Alan Snyder has taken us beyond conventional biography, and beyond “yet another” book on Ronald Reagan. His focus on Reagan and Chambers is completely unique. His book, likes its subjects, is without peer.

--Paul Kengor, Professor of Political Science and Executive Director of the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College and author of God and Ronald Reagan and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism

Alan Snyder has written a fascinating dual biography of two remarkable American anti-Communists, profoundly dissimilar in temperament yet united in their conviction that Communism was utterly evil. Each man in his own sphere contributed mightily to Soviet Communism's eventual collapse and thus to the survival of the West in their time. But this probing book is more than a simple biography. It compels us to ponder the religious dimension of the long battle that Whittaker Chambers and Ronald Reagan waged, as well as a disturbing question: does the post-Communist West possess the spiritual resources required to flourish in freedom, or has it sown the seeds of its own demise?
--George H. Nash, author of The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 
Alan Snyder illuminates in this fine study that Ronald Reagan's understanding of freedom, and the obligations it imposed on him as a statesman and leader of America, were forged in the Witness of Whittaker Chambers. This book uncovers for us the truth that the path of liberty is a path of sacrifice and love. Every student of American liberty should read this book, breathe in its contents, and think how they might reinvigorate their lives, their families, and their communities with the wisdom of Chambers and Reagan.

--Richard Reinsch, author of Whittaker Chambers: The Spirit of a Counterrevolutionary

In this thoroughly researched and beautifully written groundbreaking study, K. Alan Snyder convincingly shows the profound influence that Whittaker Chambers had on Ronald Reagan’s eventual political transformation – an influence that continued through his presidency. With the publication of The Witness and the President, Snyder’s reputation as a leading authority on the subject is enhanced even further. Despite all we thought we knew about Reagan already, Snyder’s book is a genuinely new story and must-read to understand the optimistic mindset of our 40th president long before he reached the nation’s highest office. It has been said that Reagan was the right leader at the right time, and – thanks to The Witness and the President – now we understand why.

—Luke A. Nichter, Associate Professor of History, Texas A&M University – Central Texas and author of the New York Times bestseller The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972

K. Alan Snyder is professor of history at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. He has also taught at Indiana Wesleyan University, Regent University, and Patrick Henry College. Dr. Snyder is the author of three other books: Mission: Impeachable—The House Managers and the Historic Impeachment of President Clinton, which was a main selection for the Conservative Book Club in 2001; Defining Noah Webster: A Spiritual Biography; and If the Foundations Are Destroyed: Biblical Principles and Civil Government. Two of Dr. Snyder’s upper-level history courses are “The Witness of Whittaker Chambers” and “Ronald Reagan and Modern American Conservatism.”

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Transport Yourself to Ancient Rome with a 4 Book Contract

The year: 85 A.D. under Emperor Domitian. The place: the far outskirts of the Roman Empire in the barbaric province of Britannia. The story, well you can soon read it yourself, because I just got a book contract!

A four book contract to be exact, which follows one Roman patrician family across the span of three decades. I started the first book, For Life or Until, almost six years ago now. So I can't tell you how excited I am to finally see it in print.

If you like danger, adventure, love stories that don't work out so well--at least at first, a rich historical backdrop, and the clash of stubborn soul against stubborn soul, then this is the series for you.

I am still searching for a handful of beta readers to read a completed manuscript after it has been critiqued and revised and give me their reader's reactions. Interested? Here's the criteria. I would love to have your help.

1. part of my target audience i.e. female
2. decently well-read in the women's fiction/romance genre
3. opinionated, so you can tell me everything you disliked, and I can edit accordingly :)
4. a swift reader
5. not interested in a beta read swap (unfortunately, authors, due to time constraints this year, I can't do a beta read of your book in return.)

Interested in reading this series? Look for the first book to go to print early next year. More information and book blurbs coming soon.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

1 Reason You Should Play Football With Your Kids

First published on the Writing Prompts Thoughts and Ideas blog.

My earliest memories of football involve sweat, panting breaths, and scraped up knees. Growing up, we used to play tag football at our local park.
Every Sunday afternoon, my brothers and I would change out of church clothes, wolf down leftovers, and then I’d pick up the phone. It was one of those Dark Ages, dial ones that plugged into the wall and had a cord. Peering at the address book taped to the refrigerator, I’d type in numbers and ring up all the neighbor kids. My dad would get the pigskin out of the garage, and we’d all head out to our neighborhood park.
I was never any good, but I sure had fun. My dad would lift his arm, fling a pass. I’d run forward, legs churning, trying to beat the older boys who seemed to have some sort of magic dust on their hands when it came to catching footballs.
Sprint, jump, crash, I fell to the ground streaking dirt up the jeans my mom had just washed.
Swooping in, my older brother grabbed the football for his team. “You catch like a girl.”
“You think that’s an insult? Girls are amazing at everything.” I stuck my tongue out at him.
He shucked the football to the neighbor kid who was a runner. That kid was younger than me, but man could he ever run. If he ever passed your scrimmage line, rather than chase after, you just flung yourself on the grass, admitting defeat.
But he hadn’t caught the ball yet. My younger brother lunged forward, both hands extended for a two-hand touch tackle.
The ball veered right, my dad jumped.
Some autumns we played on that small field so hard we dug ruts in the grass and the county landscapers would have to come out and shut down the field until they could plant new seed.
And as soon as they’d re-open the field, we’d be back to football again.
Most of the other kids’ parents didn’t come. Their moms might drop them off, their dads might stay a few minutes and say ‘hi’, their parents might take a walk around the neighborhood while we played. But my dad was always there. Hurt knees, sprained wrists, shoulders made sore by being a weekend warrior with ever growing kids, he did it all.
Now that I’m a parent of a three-year-old little boy, I sometimes think of those Sunday afternoons playing football. To me, a hectic mom whose greatest desire in life is for an hour of peace and quiet, it might be just one Sunday afternoon, an inconveniently loud or rowdy game of pigskin. But to them, the kids that grow in our hearts and homes, it’s their childhood. And I don’t want my son to remember me sitting his childhood out on the bench.
Thanks, Dad, for all the memories.
What was an activity you loved to do with your mom or dad (or other mentor) growing up? Share some of your memories.

Read the original post here: