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Thomas Fleming

Born July 5, 1927 (1927-07-05) (age 82)
Jersey City, NJ
Occupation Historian, Novelist
Notable work(s) The Officers' Wives
Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge
Official website

Thomas James Fleming (born 1927) is an American military historian and historical novelist.



Thomas Fleming was born in 1927 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He is a historian and novelist with a special interest in the American Revolution.

Fleming is the son of an Irish-American World War I hero who was a leader in Jersey City politics for three decades, starting in the 1920s. At the time, the city was dominated by an Irish political machine. "Irish politics was the be-all and end all." [1]

After graduating from high school in 1945, Fleming spent a year in the United States Navy. He received a Bachelor's degree, with honors, from Fordham University in 1950.

Literary career

After brief stints as a newspaperman and magazine editor, he became a full-time writer in 1960. His first history book, Now We Are Enemies, an account of the Battle of Bunker Hill, was published that same year.

Since then, Fleming has published a long list of books about various events and figures of the Revolutionary era. He has also written about other periods of American history,and had published over a dozen well-received novels set against various historical backgrounds.

"I never wanted to be an Irish-American writer," he says. "My whole idea was to get across that bridge and be an American writer." Immersing himself in American history, and writing books on colonial families and military men, has helped him build such a bridge. Besides his well-received early novels, with stories set in the waning days of Irish-American political power, Fleming has published acclaimed biographies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. He has written extensively on the American Revolution and both world wars. Seven of his novels trace the fortunes of one family in particular, the Stapletons, through different historical periods.

These novels are my exemplars of how people are hammered by history, tortured by it, absorbed by it. They say a lot about the American experience.

Starting with the Revolution, Fleming says, Americans have been torn by what he calls "the great dichotomy": the clash between American ideals and brutal political and economic realities. It was a conflict he saw firsthand as a sailor aboard the warship USS Topeka in the Pacific at the close of World War II, and later while he was conducting research for a history of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He lived at West Point from 1964 to 1968, and interviewed officers and their families as the controversy over America's involvement in Vietnam intensified.

That was my first really strong exposure to America's secular idealism. These guys have this ideal of duty, honor, country, but in the real world, in the Army, a lot of other things are going on. There's throat-cutting careerism, hostility from the civilian community, and always the possibility that at the bottom line, there's going to be a body bag.[2]

Professional contributions

A frequent guest on C-Span, PBS, A&E and the History Channel, Fleming also contributes articles to such magazines as American Heritage, Military History, History Today, and MHQ, the Quarterly Journal of Military History. He has served as president of the Society of American Historians and the PEN American Center. He also spent ten years as chairman of the New York American Revolution Round Table and is currently the senior scholar at the American Revolution Center at Valley Forge.

Fleming has donated his papers to Boston University's Special Collections. Among the items on file are the interviews he conducted for a book on West Point and notes from his research on everyday life during the American Revolution. Eventually he plans to send over a large amount of material on World War I.


Fleming lives in New York with his wife Alice, a distinguished writer of books for young people. The couple have four children and seven grandchildren.



  • Now We Are Enemies
  • Beat The Last Drum
  • Washington’s Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge
  • The Perils of Peace: America’s Struggle to Survive After Yorktown
  • The Irish-American Chronicle
  • The New Dealers’ War: FDR and the War Within World War II
  • The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I
  • Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America
  • Liberty! The American Revolution
  • The Man From Monticello
  • The Man Who Dared The Lightning
  • Benjamin Franklin: a Life in his own Words (ed.)
  • The Forgotten Victory
  • The First Stroke
  • Downright Fighting
  • West Point: The Men and Times of the U.S. Military Academy
  • 1776: Year of Illusions
  • The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers (forthcoming, 2009)


  • Liberty Tavern
  • Dreams of Glory
  • The Spoils of War
  • Rulers of the City
  • A Passionate Girl
  • Promises to Keep
  • Remember The Morning
  • The Wages of Fame
  • When This Cruel War Is Over
  • The Secret Trial of Robert E. Lee
  • The Officers’ Wives
  • Time and Tide
  • Over There
  • Loyalties: A Novel of World War II
  • All Good Men


  1. ^ B.U.Bridge, Volume 5, No. 2, 28 September 2001,
  2. ^ B.U.Bridge, Volume 5, No. 2, 28 September 2001


  • Who's Who in America
  • Contemporary Authors, v. 7-8
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, v. 37
  • "B.U.Bridge" Newspaper, Volume 5, No. 4, 28 September 2001

External links



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