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I'm Harris Baseman, author of The Dead Presidents Club: Tom Paine's "Common Sense" for the 21st Century. My previous books are After Kamisiyah (2002), The Accidental President (2004), and Turncoats (2007).
About the Author
I'm a graduate of Bowdoin College and Harvard Law School and currently reside near Boston, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod and in St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands. Before becoming a writer, I practiced law in Boston Massachusetts for about 45 years and loved what I was doing for most of that time. Practicing law changed, I changed or it finally just became time to do something else and I started writng.
About my latest book, The Dead Presidents Club: Tom Paine's "Common Sense" for the 21st Century.
As indicated in the Preface to the book, the idea for first writing a book about how some of our former Presidents might deal with the issues of today came to me during an 18 day stay at the Beth Israel-Deaconess Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts following an operation on September 23, 2006. Dissatisfaction with our current political leaders, an appreciation of the accomplishments of our previous leaders and perhaps, a healthy dose of pain-killers led me to to ruminate about our past presidents. I resisted the urge to write this book for almost a year.
After Turncoats was published in November, 2007, I began to write this book. I wrote a dozen pages and stopped. I felt inadequate to the task. I asked a few friends who had read and were entertained by my previous novels to read the pages. I told them I thought it was a great idea for a book, but that someone else ought to write it, someone who was a real historian, someone who had spent a lifetime studying the lives of the presidents of the United States, perhaps someone like Doris Kearns Goodwin. I hope the readers of this book do not decide that my first inclination was right.
In any event, the feedback I got was that I had to finish the book. A college professor friend advised me that academics would be too involved in every nuance of the lives of the presidents and that they would probably not be willing to speculate about today’s issues from the point of view of those deceased presidents.
When I was nearer to completion of this book, I again furnished pages to friends and critics and again renewed my concern about who should write this kind of book. I was told that I had acquired more than enough knowledge of the presidents to write this book and that I had to finish it and publish it. I confess I was not used to the enthusiastic comments I received, especially from readers who told me that they rarely read fiction.
I may well have made mistakes and taken liberties with the political and philosophical positions of some of the presidents. If so, it was not intended. I tried to get it right. My goal however was not to guarantee that any particular president would have done or said any particular thing concerning today’s issues, but rather to present what I think they would have said, based on my knowledge of them. My primary goal was to stimulate the reader to review the issues of the day from a different perspective. If I succeed in doing that, this exercise will have been worthwhile.
Perhaps because of the high price of foreign oil, readers of the manuscript have been intrigued with what I wrote about thorium as a solution to a great part of our energy woes. I researched thorium as best I could. It is perhaps unusual for me, but I again experienced a lack of self-confidence concerning my research into thorium. I recognized that acting as a lawyer for forty years before retiring from that profession and then becoming a fiction writer in no way had prepared me to understand and have confidence in my scientific researches. I needed an expert. Who could be better than a Harvard Physics professor? Only two Harvard Physics Professors. Fortunately I knew two. I want to thank retired Harvard Professor Jack Shapiro for confirming my researched conclusion that nuclear energy provides the best possible way to alleviate the energy problem under currently available technologies. I also want to thank Harvard Professor Mara Prentiss for taking the time to review my thoughts and confirm as accurate my reasons for concluding that thorium is a superior nuclear fuel. Whatever I said about thorium that may be wrong is my error and not that of Professor Prentiss and whatever I said about nuclear energy that may be wrong is my error, and not Professor Shapiro’s. I have included at the end of this book a copy of the US Constitution and a compilation of excerpts from Washington’s Farewell Address, John F Kennedy’s Inaugural speech and his “Man on the Moon” speech and from Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech as a handy way for readers to review them, if they are so inclined. They are a small portion of the materials I examined during the writing of this book.
If you want to tell me how much you enjoyed the The Dead Presidents Club or that you hated it and me, you may do so by e-mail to The DPCLUB@aol.com or by contacting me through the Contact Tab on this web site.
Harris I. Baseman
If you are curious about my latest book, I have set out below the brief description of the book that appears on the back cover:
It's a dream interview with a former President of the United States, but which President? He can remember a blinding light and thinking some moron failed to dim his headlights. Then nothing. Now, he's sitting in some club and being approached by a man that looks like George Washington.
It has to be a hoax. But it turns out he's at The Dead Presidents Club where he also interviews, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Jack Kennedy and other deceased Presidents.
He learns that the Dead Presidents have no confidence in the ability of today's leaders to solve today's great issues. As the interviews continue, he hears how the experiences of the Dead Presidents with problems of the past can provide solutions for the problems of today, most notably, the energy problem, the threat of terrorism and the war in Iraq.
He finds great wisdom and a new perspective from the interviews. But will he find an audience?