I was born in Ohio and lived in several southern states during my early childhood as part of a military family. We eventually settled once again in Dayton, Ohio and I spent most of my childhood there. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by history - so much so that as a child my grandmother would often take me to the graveyards where our ancestors were buried and tell me stories about them.
I first attended Miami University in Ohio and studied International Relations. I then left the USA and moved to Glasgow, Scotland where I attained an MA in History from the University of Glasgow. Afterwards, I returned to the USA to work at the Old Exchange museum in Charleston, SC. There, I conducted historical research to create the permanent exhibit “Patriots and Prisoners” which tells the stories of 18th century residents imprisoned for supporting independence from the British.
I then returned to Europe, working as a resident historian at the 800-year-old Schloss Brollin in Germany. I immersed myself in the culture and language of eastern Germany and became proficient in speaking German. During my travels in the country, I also came across several names that I had found in the course of research into my own family tree. I discovered that my family’s history in Germany went back centuries, to the von Schwalbachs of the 15th century.
It was the combination of my own familial research and my years in Europe that solidified my decision to pursue research into 20th century ideologies and propaganda. I am fascinated by the pyschology and culture of that time. In the USA, Scotland, and Germany I had interviewed veterans of WW2 who fought on opposing sides and I documented their reflections post-war.
Looking at WW2 through the microcosm of own family, I found an American member of the OSS on one side and a German lieutenant on the other. It drove home a reality that I had become potently aware of - that war, like life, is not black and white. That we can not possibly know what exactly drives any individual to make the decisions or choose the allegiances that they do.
So, this is what I do. I examine the cultures, beliefs, institutions and histories that shaped the individuals of this period. I tell their stories as best as I am able, and as often as possible in their own words. It is not my job to judge them or their time. I did not live in their shoes, walk their streets, love their families, experience their losses, or dream their dreams.
But like them, I am also human, walking the fine line between playing the cards that life has dealt me and shaping the future that I hope to see. As a citizen of the modern world and a student of history, I also write about parallels in human behavior and politics today that mirror the 20th century.