Master Snowball Tactician

I’m submitting this for Illustration Friday’s topic “Surrender.”

Nap and the gang

I’ve never been a history buff, but I am beginning to enjoy it more and more.  I’m reading a biography of Napoleon by Felix Markham and I encountered something fascinating.  Apparently, as a schoolboy in Brienne France, Napoleon enthusiastically organized mock battles.  In the unusually cold winter of 1797 Napoleon designed snow fortifications to  serve as the battleground for snowball fights amongst the students.  During his exile on the Island of Saint Helena, he said, “I have fought sixty battles, and I have learnt nothing which I did not know in the beginning.”

I’m amazed to ponder the poor students that had to exchange snowballs with a military genius who conquered practically all of Europe.  After reading that bit, my mind wandered for the next ten pages.  In my imagination, I constructed some middling student who marshaled the best of his resources to lead his gang of boys against Napoleon’s snow fortress, and years later as the London Times spat imprecatory statements against the “Thief of Europe” this man–this moderate man, this shoe salesman, reminisced about his day of glory when he and his fellows defeated Napoleon on the field of snow.


Perhaps, no such thing happened.  Possibly Napoleon, stranded on Saint Helena, fallen from grace–“but yesterday a King!/ And armed with Kings to strive,” prone toward introspection–possibly he began to rehearse his greatest battles in his mind: The Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, the Battle of Austerlitz, the Battle of Lodi, and possibly amongst these great battles he remembered some bit of tactical genius he displayed during the winter of 1797 in the battles that raged between the schoolboys at Brienne.

Here is a modest tribute to the Great Emperor as a young man persisting to victory at the end of a long day.



This summer I am please to be in a production of “Two Gentlemen of Verona.”  I play Proteus.  Come see a show if you have a chance. This post is about this past Monday’s performance.  I thought it would be a cool post when I started it, and now I’m realizing that it’s an elaborate treatment to a rather unimpressive anecdote.  Nevertheless, I hope some of you might find it amusing.  If you want to see the pages bigger, you have to click on the Two Gentlemen title at the top of the post.















Dinner Time Yarns and Fables

title thing
Dinner Table Yarns and Fables

This project had a tight deadline.  I really like the idea of this book.  The goal is to have historical stories that are interesting enough and short enough to read at the dinner table.  The book is small in size.  After fretting about the cover image, I was told basically, not to worry about it, because it will be very small.  I’m not sure, but the whole book might have the cover dimensions of a mass market paperback.  Still, I hope that John Adams and Bill Potter will write a number of them.  To my understanding, that’s the plan.  Mark Bauerlein wrote the forward to this one.  He’s the author of The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30). Long title, right? [Review from the LA Times if you’re interested.] In his forward to Dinner Time Yarns and Fables he lists history scores that trumpet the failure of American education to transmit priorities from American History.  Bauerlein writes “Anybody who thinks that the poor scores signify merely an academic matter doesn’t understand the importance of history in a free republic.  For, one essential element in a vibrant democracy is precisely, the historical memory of citizens.  Their remembrance of principles of representation and liberty, of great heroes and villains, and of crucial events and transitions sustains civic life.”  So I guess the mission of this book is to provide an easy way for families to interact, and to imbed themselves in the soil of our history.

I got to illustrate the inside content.  Below are a few of those.

Winston Churchill
Booker T Washington
Booker T Washington
Dolly Madison

Look for the book.