My books explore the notion of social change. Gilded Suffragists is about the women’s suffrage movement, and how an unlikely band of wealthy New York social celebrities made a once dowdy cause suddenly fashionable. Lights, Camera, War is about great media inventions – from the printing press to the Internet – and how they fundamentally changed the landscape.
In writing about people, I delight in discovering aspects of their lives that illuminate their character. When I wrote the obituary of Ronald Reagan, I read that as he was leaving the presidency, a reporter asked Reagan what it had been like to be an actor in the White House, the first. He cocked his head, smiled and said, “There have been times in this office when I’ve wondered how you could do the job if you hadn’t been an actor.” To me, that anecdote told volumes about his values and his perspective on power and its uses.
To me, the four most powerful words in any language are, “Once upon a time.” Storytelling is inspiring, and at its heart is a focus on people. Stories, whether novels or histories, hold a mirror to our own lives, teaching us about ourselves and about our shared fears, observations and ambitions.
My interview on WNYC News
Aug 2, 2016 · by Jim O'Grady
As she campaigns, Hillary Clinton is making history as the first woman nominated for the presidency by a major party. But 77 years before Clinton was born, an upstart named Victoria Woodhull wrote a letter to The New York Herald announcing her ground-breaking bid for the White House. This is the story of the first woman to run for president, in 1872, and how she compares to the latest.