'Honor in the Dust' is less about the freedom of the Philippines than the soul of the United States.
With the Lincoln assassination, the South didn't feel it could mourn along with the North. But Garfield was beloved by all the American people. He was trusted and respected by North and South, by freed slaves and former slave owners. Also by pioneers, which his parents had been, and by immigrants.
I have always been interested in the idea of self-reinvention.
More often than not, real life is so rich, complex and unpredictable that it would seem completely implausible in the pages of a novel.
When I began work on my first book, 'The River of Doubt,' which tells the story of Theodore Roosevelt's 1914 descent of an unmapped river in the Amazon rainforest, I thought of it as a tale of adventure, exploration and extraordinary courage.
If uncovering the truth is the greatest challenge of nonfiction writing, it is also the greatest reward.
As I have encountered difficult moments in my own life, I have been privileged to learn from the great men I have come to know as a writer.
I had a moment in the Library of Congress among the presidential papers. I opened a folder, and there was an envelope in it. The front of the envelope was facing the table, so I didn't know what was in it. I opened it and out spilled all this hair. I turned the envelop over and it says, 'Clipped from President Garfield's head on his deathbed.'
As someone who has long loved history and reads a lot of history, especially when you get a distance like 130 years, these people can seem almost mythical, and you need something tangible to make them real.
Late-19th-century America, with all its chaotic change and immense potential, seems to have been the perfect place to become not someone else, but someone new.
I'm very interested in science.