Necessary Background Info

When I was a teenager, I was close to my maternal grandfather, Milton M. Brown. I was fascinated by the time he spent as a "delegate" in Herbert Hoover's WWI Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB). He was one of only 185 American supervisors who ever worked for the CRB. After he died in 1979, I inherited all his diaries, correspondence and photographs from that period (1916-1917).

From 1986 through 1989, I worked full time researching the time period, WWI, the CRB, and numerous delegates. From those efforts, I wrote an 850-page historical novel, Honor Bound. I had a few nibbles -- agents and publishers who asked for the entire manuscript -- but no one offered a contract. In the late 1990s, I made a half-hearted attempt to rewrite the novel, but it didn't go far.

After my second book, Facing Your Fifties: Every Man's Reference to Mid-life Health came out in 2002 (and was included in Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2002), my agent looked at Honor Bound. He suggested the topic would do well -- and fit my writing strengths -- if it was a history book written in novel-like style.

At the end of 2012, as I turned 60 years old, I came to the conclusion that it was time to take up this incredible humanitarian story again and see if I could make it work.

After more than a year of researching and writing, and with the help of a talented book team, I published Behind the Lines: WWI's little-known story of German occupation, Belgian resistance, and the band of Yanks who helped save millions from starvation. 1914. It detailed the complex and chaotic beginnings of the CRB and CN during the critical first five months of the war (August to December, 1914). It was released in October 2014 in time for the 100-year anniversary of the start of WWI and the CRB.

Since then, I'm happy to report that Behind the Lines has garnered national recognitions and reviews that include a Kirkus Starred Review (only 750 out of 10,000 books annually reviewed by Kirkus are awarded a Starred Review) and inclusion in Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2014. The last sentence of the review states: "An excellent history that should catapult Miller to the top tier of popular historians." You can read all the reviews at the book's website, which can be reached by clicking here.

Below are my blog posts about re-immersing myself in this important humanitarian topic. The posts start in Dec. 2012 and come up to the present. The posts are laid out with the most recent first. A "List of All My Posts" is on the bottom right of this page. I start each post with a quick snippet of history. I used to call this item "A Spot of History," but now it's titled "Don't-Forget-WWI Project."

My main forcus now is to finish researching and writing WWI Crusaders, which tells the riveting full story of the American CRB delegates from August, 1914 to April, 1917, when America entered the war and the CRB delegates had to leave Belgium and Northern France.

I hope you find something of interest within this blog. For more information about Behind the Lines and/or WWI Crusaders, please go to the books' website by clicking here.


Post #2. A Blog Might be a Good Idea

December 20, 2012
A Spot of History: All telephones in Belgium have been turned off by the Germans. CRB delegates have unlimited use of the telegraph lines but each message is first read by a German censor.

My Post: I’ve begun typing up my handwritten notes and expand on them. I’ve already got multiple pages and my brain’s working overtime.

When it comes to big projects like creating a historical narrative of the CRB, I’m the kind of person who first needs to “see” the finished result. Once I have my eyes on the prize, then I turn them down, try and forget all the visions of glory that are waiting, and start slogging through all the steps it’s going to take to reach the ultimate goal – a published book that gathers rave reviews, makes millions and turns into a movie that wins the Oscar for Best Picture. (Okay, it doesn’t have to win Best Picture, but it has to be nominated!)

Today, I’ve also thought about creating a blog about the projet as a way of doing multiple things:

1.      Put pressure on me so that I keep going on this project.
2.      Keep my friends and family informed about what I’m doing, just like my cancer blog did years ago.
3.      And, maybe – if I’m really lucky – the blog might be seen by an editor, a publisher or some other influential person who thinks the topic of the CRB and my writing style are marketable.  

I started taking notes on what I would need to do to create a blog. Looks like a lot of work and could suck the time out of me.

I also decided that I really needed a “Historical Writings” menu button on my career website, www.jbmwriter.com, as a way of showing people I have two major historical projects: 1914 Italy slides and the CRB/Honor Bound.  So I worked on that for about four hours. Happy with the result.

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