Today’s author interview is with Charles Rosenberg, author of The Trial and Execution of the Traitor George Washington.
A thought-provoking novel that imagines what would have happened if the British had succeeded in kidnapping General George Washington.
British special agent Jeremiah Black, an officer of the King’s Guard, lands on a lonely beach in the wee hours of the morning in late November 1780. The revolution is in full swing but has become deadlocked. Black is here to change all that.
His mission, aided by Loyalists, is to kidnap George Washington and spirit him back to London aboard the HMS Peregrine, a British sloop of war that is waiting closely offshore. Once he lands, though, the “aid by Loyalists” proves problematic because some would prefer just to kill the general outright. Black manages—just—to get Washington aboard the Peregrine, which sails away.
Upon their arrival in London, Washington is imprisoned in the Tower to await trial on charges of high treason. England’s most famous barristers seek to represent him but he insists on using an American. He chooses Abraham Hobhouse, an American-born barrister with an English wife—a man who doesn’t really need the work and thinks the “career-building” case will be easily resolved through a settlement of the revolution and Washington’s release. But as greater political and military forces swirl around them and peace seems ever more distant, Hobhouse finds that he is the only thing keeping Washington from the hangman’s noose.
Drawing inspiration from a rumored kidnapping plot hatched in 1776 by a member of Washington’s own Commander-in-Chief Guard, Charles Rosenberg has written a compelling novel that envisions what would take place if the leader of America’s fledgling rebellion were taken from the nation at the height of the war, imperiling any chance of victory.
Charles (“Chuck”) Rosenberg’s latest novel (his fifth) is the alternate history thriller The Trial and Execution of the Traitor George Washington. It imagines what might have happened if the British, in the midst of the Revolution, had kidnapped George Washington and taken him back to England to be tried for high treason.
Chuck’s interest in the American Revolution was first piqued when his 5th grade teacher made him memorize Longfellow’s The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. To this day, he can still recite it if you ask him to (his wife, however, requests that you not ask). His interest continued in college, where he majored in history, with a particular penchant for studying the Revolution.
Now that his American Revolution novel is done and soon to be released, Chuck is at work on a new alternative history, set six months before the start of the Civil War, a period of extreme political stress, but one that has not figured as much in fiction as the Civil War itself.
The first novel Rosenberg ever wrote (we will skip talking about the one he never finished because that was truly a long time ago) was the legal thriller Death on a High Floor, which became an Amazon best-seller in 2014. It’s about the murder of the managing partner of a large international law firm. Rosenberg is quick to point out that the large firms in which he was a partner were really quite nice places; unlike the firm in the novel. That novel was followed by two sequels and the start of a new series in Write to Die, which is set in a glitzy entertainment law firm in Hollywood.
Prior to turning to writing fiction (and in addition to practicing law), Chuck was the credited legal script consultant to three prime time television shows: L.A. Law, The Practice and Boston Legal, as well as the TV show The Paper Chase (Showtime). During the O .J. Simpson criminal trial, he was one of two on-air legal analysts for E! Entertainment Television’s live coverage of the trial. He also provided commentary for E!’s coverage of the Simpson civil trial.
Rosenberg has also taught extensively as an adjunct law professor, including at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles (where he currently teaches the course “Law and Popular Culture”), the Loyola Law School International LLM Program in Bologna, Italy, the UCLA School of Law, the Pepperdine School of Law, and the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA.
A graduate of Antioch College and the Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, Chuck currently practices in the Los Angeles area where he lives with his wife, who is the very effective “in-house” initial editor of everything he writes.