Michael J. O'Neal
My first literary undertaking dates to the 1950s, when I was about eight years old. I took it into my head that Romeo and Juliet would appeal to a wider audience if it were rewritten in modern prose. Armed with an Underwood typewriter and a box of well-worn erasers, I set out to do just that and actually completed Act I. Sadly, the manuscript does not survive.
After serving in the U.S. Army, and after completing a Ph.D. in English literature in 1978, I taught writing and literature at an Iowa liberal arts college for a decade. After a brief and inglorious stint as an investment broker, in 1992 I decided to strike out on my own as a freelance writer. I supplemented my income by freelance editing and paid public speaking, presenting writing seminars for attorneys under the auspices of state bar associations and other professional organizations.
Over the years, I developed a specialization in historical topics. I’ve written numerous nonfiction books and made major contributions to many others, published by Grolier, Facts On File, Thomson/Gale, Greenhaven, the Perfection Learning Company, and ABC-CLIO. Topics include general American history, espionage and intelligence, and terrorism. Additionally, I write a regular editorial column for an Idaho newspaper.
I currently live in Moscow, Idaho, with my wife, Laurie, the world’s fattest cat, two dogs, and two horses, which we ride regularly in the area’s hills and woods—when I’m not in the basement brewing homemade beer.
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By Michael J. O'Neal
Published: February 1, 2009.
Her neighbors in Richmond, Virginia, called her Crazy Bett. Her name was Elizabeth Van Lew, and during the Civil War Elizabeth ran a Union spy ring in the capital of the Confederacy—pulling it off by posing as a madwoman. Crazy Bett is based on historical events and takes a sometimes light-hearted look at the world of Civil War espionage
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