One of my favorite books is A Patriot’s History of the United States published in 2004 by Larry Schweikart co-written with Mike Allen which became the #1 bestseller for not only the New York Times, but also Amazon.com. It is my very strong belief that Larry’s Patriot’s History should be the official textbook of history taught in every school in America. Most American’s thought the same thing, which is why it is still easy to find in the history section of most bookstores. That book by itself has done much to undo many of the progressive myths imposed on American culture with the intention of eradicating the concept of exceptionalism from our dialogue. It took a while for American’s to discover the book, but once they did, there were stacks of these large blue books piled upon the entrance to my local bookstore that delighted me immensely.
My youngest daughter bought it for me on my 41st birthday as I had been dropping hints that it was all I wanted. Once I received it, I spent a month devouring it, and it still sits on a bookshelf within reach for my constant reference. Larry has went on to author several other books, What would the Founders Say?: A Patriot’s Answers to America’s Most Pressing problems, Seven Events That Made America America: And Proved That the Founding Fathers Were Right All Along, and 48 Liberal Lies About American History.
Eight days ago my publisher sent me a couple comp copies of my newest book Tail of the Dragon ahead of the usual galley’s upon my request. As part of my contract with American Book, they send upon completion of all the pre-production tasks an official copy of the book as galleys are then sent out for reviews and blurbs obtained since books typically sell based on opinion. The galleys aren’t due to arrive till after the Fourth of July and it looks like the official release date is set to be September 4th. During this process a book is then registered with all the book distributers so book stores know how to access it for their stock. Being a fan of Larry’s I had contacted him months ago to see if he would be willing to give me a blurb, which he gracefully accepted. But he also warned me that he was very picky, and that if he did not like the book, he would not give me a blurb.
So of course sending him my book was risky since if he told me he didn’t like it, it would not only be disappointing from marketing standpoint since he is a bestselling author, but he’s also someone I respect, so a rejection from him would have been even more difficult. When the books arrived, I sent one immediately to Larry and braced myself.
Before leaving town with my wife on Friday June 22, 2012 Larry wrote me to say that he had made it through the first part and that so far so good, which meant a lot since he didn’t have to assure me of anything. I spent every minute of my trip out-of-town thinking about whether or not Larry was going to continue enjoying Tail of the Dragon once he got into the really intense stuff which happens about halfway through the book. Everyone who had read Tail of the Dragon so far had loved the book, but Larry is a history professor and has been there and done much in publishing and media relations. My ending to Tail of the Dragon is very severe which is a delicate balance that can be tricky to walk, so I spent the whole weekend worried.
When I arrived home and sat down to check my email, I saw I had a note from Larry. I was relieved to open it and see that Larry enjoyed the book and gave me a nice blurb that can be seen below. This is officially the first of my blurbs, and it won’t be the last. But it is one that I wanted for more than one reason. I was delighted with Larry’s impression of the novel since Tail of the Dragon goes into deep analysts on life and the roles of freedom, but at the same time is light-hearted and fun. For the majority of people who don’t care as deeply about those topics as I do, they will most likely read the book for entertainment first, introspection second, and Larry hit perfectly the kind of impression I had been trying to create, which means that most readers will come away with a similar impression.
With Tale of the Dragon, Rich Hoffman combines NASCAR, Rebel Without a Cause, and Smokey and the Bandit. If you like fast cars, and hate speed traps, this is the book for you. And just every once in a while, any real American wishes he had a Firebird like the one in Tale of the Dragon.
The setup to the storyline in Tail of the Dragon involves a history of progressive politics and the way it functions. It also involves a back story involving Andrew Jackson which obviously Larry is an expert, so there were things that if I got them wrong, he could have easily rejected. So the blurb he gave me is one that I treasure immensely. It’s much easier to do these kinds of things when you don’t care what somebody thinks, and most of the time I don’t. For me the risk is when I deal with other writers whose work I admire greatly because you want to come away from such correspondence with good footing, otherwise the rejection will resonate every time you read a future book of theirs, and books are as important to me as breathing. So getting a blurb from Larry was a bit of personal risk for me.
So thank you Larry for taking the time out of your busy schedule to give Tail of the Dragon a read, and for the very nice comments. I wrote what I liked, and the hope is that others will share in that passion. The risk is that the fine line between intensity, entertainment and ridiculousness does not get jeopardized along the way which violates the connection a reader has to the world you try to build for them. Larry’s blurb summarized for me what others not familiar with the book will feel when they read it as well. I intentionally did not tell Larry much in advance so not even knowing upon receipt if it’s just another political science entry, or some fantasy epic, he came away with the basic impressions I was trying to create, and lent his valuable name to Tail of the Dragon.