Episode 282 | James L. Haley Interview

On today’s show James L. Haley, author of the Putnam Naval Series joins me to talk about his unique entry intro writing and publishing, writing history, switching from history to fiction and back again, the opportunity to shed some light on an interesting aspect of American history and how he used that time to write one of the best pieces of historical fiction in recent years, and much more.


The second installment of the gripping naval saga by award-winning historian James L. Haley, featuring Commander Bliven Putnam, chronicling the build up to the biggest military conflict between the United States and Britain after the Revolution—the War of 1812.

At the opening of the War of 1812, the British control the most powerful navy on earth, and Americans are again victims of piracy. Bliven Putnam, late of the Battle of Tripoli, is dispatched to Charleston to outfit and take command of a new 20-gun brig, the USS Tempest. Later, aboard the Constitution, he sails into the furious early fighting of the war.

Prowling the South Atlantic in the Tempest, Bliven takes prizes and disrupts British merchant shipping, until he is overhauled, overmatched, and disastrously defeated by the frigate HMS Java. Its captain proves to be Lord Arthur Kington, whom Bliven had so disastrously met in Naples. On board he also finds his old friend Sam Bandy, one of the Java’s pressed American seamen kidnapped into British service. Their whispered plans to foment a mutiny among the captives may see them hang, when the Constitution looms over the horizon for one of the most famous battles of the War of 1812 in a gripping, high-wire conclusion. With exquisite detail and guns-blazing action, A Darker Sea illuminates an unforgettable period in American history.

About James L Haley:

Award-winning historian and novelist James L. Haley grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Arlington with a B.A. in Government-Pre Law. He attended the UT Austin School of Law for two years before resigning to pursue a literary career.

He is the author of some twenty books, including contemporary and historical fiction, and the history of Texas and the American West. Critically he is known as a practitioner of what they call “narrative history,” presenting a subject that some might find dry or academic in a lively and compelling way. He wrote his first book, The Buffalo War: The History of the Red River Indian Uprisig of 1874-1875, when he was twenty-two, and it is still in print. Among several prizes he has won the Western Writers of America Spur Award twice, and the Texas Historical Commission T. R. Fehrenbach Book Award twice. He is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and a Fellow of the Texas State Historical Society.

His most recent nonfiction includes Wolf, a prize-winning biography of Jack London; a history of the Texas Supreme Court; and Captive Paradise, a widely and well reviewed history of Hawaii. In fiction, the distinguished house of G. P. Putnam’s Sons will launch an important new naval adventure series with Haley’s The Shores of Tripoli: Lieutenant Putnam and the Barbary Pirates, on November 1, 2016.


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