Gregory A. Freeman
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About Gregory A. Freeman
Gregory A. Freeman is an award-winning writer with more than 25 years experience in journalism and narrative nonfiction. Known for writing books that make a true story read like a gripping, fast paced novel, Freeman is quickly becoming one of the most respected and successful authors in the field of narrative nonfiction.
Freeman's books are scrupulously researched and entirely factual, yet they read more like novels because he weaves the "stranger than fiction" personal stories of his subjects into a compelling narrative. Each project requires intensive research - getting to know the subjects personally and probing for previously undisclosed documents. Freeman also explores the subject matter himself, whether that means flying onto the deck of an aircraft carrier at sea or gaining access to the most restricted parts of the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military prison. But the most important parts of the books are the often intensely personal, emotional interviews with the men and women who were there. Their personal stories make up the heart of Freeman's work, the part that most connects with the reader.
In addition to his books, Freeman writes for a wide range of magazines and other publications, including Reader's Digest, Rolling Stone, American History, and World War II.
Freeman has won more than a dozen awards for his writing, including the coveted Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence from the Society of Professional Journalists - twice in five years. He attended the University of Georgia in Athens and began his writing career there, working for newspapers while studying journalism and political science.
After receiving his degree, he went on to work for The Associated Press in Atlanta and then spent several years as executive editor of a publishing company. He then became a freelance writer, editor, and author.
Known for writing narrative nonfiction that makes a true story read like a gripping, fast paced novel, Freeman’s latest work is The Gathering Wind: Hurricane Sandy, the Sailing Ship Bounty, and a Courageous Rescue at Sea, released October 29, 2013, by New American Library, an imprint of Penguin Books. This book tells the story of the tall sailing Bounty, which was lost off the coast of North Carolina during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Answering many of the questions prompted by that terrible loss, The Gathering Wind is a compelling drama about the crew, the Coast Guard rescuers, and the investigations that followed.
Freeman’s earlier book The Last Mission of the Wham Bam Boys tells the story of a World War II bomber crew that is shot down over Germany and then lynched by local townspeople, leading to the first war crimes trial after the conflict ended. Kirkus Reviews called it “A chilling tale” and “a riveting narrative.”
Freeman also published Troubled Water: Race, Mutiny and Bravery on the USS Kitty Hawk in September 2009, also with Palgrave Macmillan. Troubled Water tells a little known story of a race riot on the carrier Kitty Hawk in 1972, focusing on the two senior officers who will determine whether this already tragic episode ends peacefully or spirals down into one of the darkest moments in Navy history. Just prior to that, Freeman co-authored a book with Col. Larry C. James, the U.S. Army psychologist who was sent to stop the abuse at the notorious military prison in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Evil at Abu Ghraib, released in August 2008, tells the harrowing tale of a man struggling to be both a military officer and a medical professional, while also revealing previously unknown details about the prison scandal and how the system was improved.
James Bradley, bestselling author of Flags of Our Fathers, Flyboys, and The Imperial Cruise praises Freeman as a talented author whose books provide an important service to the country. Bradley says of Freeman's latest, Troubled Water: "Gregory Freeman has dug out the true hidden story of the first mutiny in the history of the U.S. Navy. You'll enjoy this high-seas thriller."
Freeman won wide acclaim for The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II, published in 2007 by New American Library. This popular book tells the fascinating but previously unknown story of Operation Halyard, a super secret and ultra risky rescue mission to save downed American airmen in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia. Malcolm McConnell, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of American Soldier, says of The Forgotten 500: "Freeman chronicles [the story] with a master's touch for detail. Although this book reads like a fast paced novel, it is based on scores of probing interviews and meticulous archival research." Gregg Olsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Deep Dark, says The Forgotten 500 is "a literary and journalistic achievement of the highest order, a book that illuminates, thrills and reminds us that heroes sometimes do live among us. It will take your breath away."
Before that, Freeman saw great success with Sailors to the End: The Deadly Fire on the USS Forrestal and the Heroes Who Fought It, originally published in July 2002 by William Morrow. In Sailors to the End, Freeman tells the story of the young men aboard an aircraft carrier in 1967, following their life-and-death struggles through an accidental fire that threatens to destroy the world's most powerful ship. Sailors to the End was enthusiastically embraced by the military community and general interest readers alike. One reviewer said, "The book grabs readers and leaves them emotionally exhausted. In particular, the description of the death of sailor James Blaskis in a remote and inaccessible part of the ship cannot leave a reader unmoved." A Kirkus Reviews writer called Sailors to the End "a compassionate account of a dramatic incident in modern naval history, told with cinematic immediacy and narrative skill." Senator John McCain, who was injured in the fire, endorsed the book and called it "a riveting account" that honors the men who died.
In Lay This Body Down: The 1921 Murders of Eleven Plantation Slaves, Freeman paints a vivid picture of a plantation run with slave labor 56 years after the Civil War. Melissa Fay Greene, author of The Temple Bombing and Praying for Sheetrock, called Lay This Body Down a "magnificently well-written book." Library Journal's Robert C. Jones wrote that "this moving narrative account is arguably the most complete history of this event available."
See the author's web site at www.gregoryafreeman.com.
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Titles By Gregory A. Freeman
During a bombing campaign over Romanian oil fields, hundreds of American airmen were shot down in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia. Local Serbian farmers and peasants risked their own lives to give refuge to the soldiers while they waited for rescue, and in 1944, Operation Halyard was born. The risks were incredible. The starving Americans in Yugoslavia had to construct a landing strip large enough for C-47 cargo planes—without tools, without alerting the Germans, and without endangering the villagers. And the cargo planes had to make it through enemy airspace and back—without getting shot down themselves.
Classified for over half a century for political reasons, the full account of this unforgettable story of loyalty, self-sacrifice, and bravery is now being told for the first time ever. The Forgotten 500 is the gripping, behind-the-scenes look at the greatest escape of World War II.
“Amazing [and] riveting.”—James Bradley, New York Times bestselling author of Flags of Our Fathers
The aircraft carrier USS Forrestal was preparing to launch attacks into North Vietnam when one of its jets accidentally fired a rocket into an aircraft occupied by pilot John McCain. A huge fire ensued, and McCain barely escaped before a 1,000-pound bomb on his plane exploded, causing a chain reaction with other bombs on surrounding planes. The crew struggled for days to extinguish the fires, but, in the end, the tragedy took the lives of 134 men. For thirty-five years, the terrible loss of life has been blamed on the sailors themselves, but this meticulously documented history shows that they were truly the victims and heroes.
Before the famed Nuremberg Tribunal, there was Rüsselsheim, a small German town, where ordinary civilians were tried in the first War Crimes Trial of World War II.
As the tide of World War II turned, a hitherto unknown incident set a precedent for how we would bring wartime crimes to justice: In August 1944, the 9- man crew of an American bomber was forced to bail out over Germany. As their captors marched them into Rüsselsheim, a small town recently bombed to smithereens by Allies, they were attacked by an angry mob of civilians--farmers, shopkeepers, railroad workers, women, and children. With a local Nazi chief at the helm, they assaulted the young Americans with stones, bricks, and wooden clubs. They beat them viciously and left them for dead at the nearby cemetery.
It could have been another forgotten tragedy of the war. But when the lynching was briefly mentioned in a London paper a few months later, it caught the eye of two Army majors, Luke Rogers and Leon Jaworski. Their investigation uncovered the real human cost of the war: the parents and a newlywed wife who agonized over the fate of the men, and the devastating effect of modern warfare on civilian populations. Rogers and Jaworski put the city of Rüsselsheim on trial, insisting on the rule of law even amidst the horrors of war.
Drawing from trial records, government archives, interviews with family members, and personal letters, highly-acclaimed military historian Gregory A. Freeman brings to life for the first time the dramatic story. Taking the reader to the scene of the crime and into the homes of the crew, he exposes the stark realities of war to show how ordinary citizens could be drawn to commit horrific acts of wartime atrocities, and the far-reaching effects on generations.
The gripping account of the riot aboard the USS Kitty Hawk—and the first mutiny in U.S. Naval history
In 1972, the United States was embroiled in an unpopular war in Vietnam, and the USS Kitty Hawk was headed to her station in the Gulf of Tonkin. Its five thousand men, cooped up for the longest at-sea tour of the war, rioted--or, as Troubled Water suggests, mutinied. Disturbingly, the lines were drawn racially, black against white. By the time order was restored, careers were in tatters. Although the incident became a turning point for race relations in the Navy, this story remained buried within U.S. Navy archives for decades.
With action pulled straight from a high-seas thriller, Gregory A. Freeman uses eyewitness accounts and a careful and unprecedented examination of the navy's records to refute the official story of the incident, make a convincing case for the U.S. navy's first mutiny, and shed new light on this seminal event in American history.
Eric Williams, a Royal Air Force bomber captain, was shot down over Germany in 1942 and imprisoned in Stalag Luft III, the infamous German POW camp. Digging an underground tunnel hidden beneath a wooden vaulting horse, he managed to escape after ten months and, accompanied by a fellow officer, made his way back to England. In this thinly fictionalized retelling, Williams relates his story in three distinct phases: the construction of a tunnel (its entrance camouflaged by the wooden vaulting horse in the exercise yard) and hiding the large quantities of sand he dug; the escape; and the journey on foot and by train to the port of Stettin, where Williams and his fellow escapee stowed away aboard a Danish ship, the Norensen.
From painstakingly digging the tunnel to secretly depositing the dirt and gravel around the camp to dodging searchlights and search dogs and climbing barbed wire fences, this is an escape story hard to beat. For sheer heroism, courage, and perseverance, this classic is arguably the most ingenious POW escape of WWII. The Wooden Horse became a legend among servicemen long before its publication in 1949 and has remained one ever since.
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The Bounty, crewed by an eclectic team of seafarers and led by highly respected captain Robin Walbridge, departed from Connecticut as Sandy raced north. Walbridge, whose decisions decided the fate of his ship and crew, attempted to outmaneuver the storm by heading southeast. As violent gusts tossed the wooden vessel, the crew fought to save their ship—and themselves. When the storm finally overtook the ship, the crew was tossed into the churning sea.
The men and women of a Coast Guard station in North Carolina courageously flew into hundred-mile-per-hour winds to rescue the survivors of the Bounty. After hours of white-knuckle flying, they accomplished one of their most memorable rescues ever.
Based on interviews with Bounty survivors and unfettered access to Coast Guard rescue team members, The Gathering Wind is the most complete account of this heartbreaking, thrilling, and inspirational story.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American pilots in the US military, and Operation Halyard was one of the most extraordinary rescue missions of World War II, described in Gregory Freeman’s The Forgotten 500. Now a newly discovered connection between them has come to light—the “Red Tails” flew fighter cover for the mission. The remarkable story is revealed here by the author whose work James Bradley calls “amazing [and] riveting.”
In April 2004, the world was shocked by the brutal pictures of beatings, dog attacks, sex acts, and the torture of prisoners held at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. As the story broke, and the world began to learn about the extent of the horrors that occurred there, the U.S. Army dispatched Colonel Larry James to Abu Ghraib with an overwhelming assignment: to dissect this catastrophe, fix it, and prevent it from being repeated.
A veteran of deployments to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and a nationally well-known and respected Army psychologist, Colonel James's expertise made him the one individual capable of taking on this enormous task. Through Colonel James's own experience on the ground, readers will see the tightrope military personnel must walk while fighting in the still new battlefield of the war on terror, the challenge of serving as both a doctor/healer and combatant soldier, and what can-and must-be done to ensure that interrogations are safe, moral, and effective.
At the same time, Colonel James also debunks many of the false stories and media myths surrounding the actions of American soldiers at both Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, and he reveals shining examples of our men and women in uniform striving to serve with honor and integrity in the face of extreme hardship and danger.
An intense and insightful personal narrative, Fixing Hell shows us an essential perspective on Abu Ghraib that we've never seen before.