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.

Since 2015, my main goal has been to finish researching and writing WWI Crusaders, which tells the riveting full story in one volume of the American CRB delegates from August, 1914 to May, 1917, when the last Americans had to leave Belgium because of America's entry in the war.

Below are my blog posts. Each week through to the end of 2018 I’ll start each blog post with a “Don’t-Forget-WWI-Project” item. It’s my way of honoring all those who participated (willingly or unwillingly) in World War I (1914-1918).

It's also my way of drawing attention to my new book, WWI Crusaders: A band of Yanks in German-occupied Belgium help save millions from starvation as civilians resist the harsh German rule. August 1914 to May 1917.

After the "Don't-Forget-WWI-Project" item, my blog post will be about my self-publishing WWI Crusaders and my PR and marketing efforts to get national media exposure for this incredible humanitarian story that has all but been forgotten today.

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

Post #41: Thanks to All Those Who Have Helped Me

Friday, August 3, 2018

DON’T-FORGET-WWI-PROJECT: Pre-war Belgium. 104 years ago this week, the European powers were blustering toward the Aug. 4, 1914 start of World War I (1914-1918). The little country of Belgium was secure in knowing its neutrality was guaranteed by a treaty that all major players had signed. Belgium was the most industrialized country in Europe and imported more than 75% of its daily food, so being caught in the conflict would be disastrous for its 7.5 million civilians. Unfortunately, disaster was about to strike, with the possibly of mass starvation not far behind. Learn more about the small band of Americans who saved an entire country from starvation at

My Post: After finishing my new book, WWI Crusaders, on April 26, 2018, I realized I had to self-publish if I wanted the book out by 2018 to honor the end of World War I. So, I brought back together most of the book team that had done such a wonderful job on my first book about the topic, Behind the Lines.  

For WWI Crusaders, Laurie Shields (of Laurie Shields Design) refashioned a new front cover to remind readers of the previous book but in a bold new way. She also helped me create an infographic that could visually explain the relief program.

Tom Locke once again did tremendous work on copy editing my huge manuscript.

New to the team Rod Manuel was an editorial consultant who plowed through the entire book offering suggestions on how to improve it and cut it down.

Dan and Jim Pratt (of Pratt Brothers Composition) continued from the previous book their great design work of the interior pages and the back cover. They also came up with the dramatic idea of putting a little girl on the spine of the book to grab attention when the book is on bookstore shelves.

Laura Furney and her super-human powers of proof reading caught all the errors I had missed during my numerous readings of the text.

New to the team Doug Easton did the necessary but un-fun (to me, at least!) job of indexing.

And Mike Bren and Seth Daire (of Crown Point Solutions) revamped the website they had designed for the previous book. To see the book’s website visit

Additionally, I had tremendous help from those I call “intelligent readers” who took the time and effort to read through the entire book and then answer lots of questions from me. They included my cousin David Newell, friend David Hiller, and brother-in-law Gene Zimmerman.

Lastly, I would never have been able to complete this book without the financial support of a small group of family and friends who believe in me more than I believe in myself. They are: friend Jim Torrey (who is the son of one of the CRB delegates, Clare Torrey); cousins and siblings Evie Newell and David Newell; my generous and kind sister Tina Miller; my incredible wife Susan Burdick; and a friend who wishes to remain anonymous.

Thanks to all of the people mentioned in this blog post for making WWI Crusaders possible and for making it much better than I ever could have on my own.

To wrap up this thank-you blog post on a high note, I want to mention that I’ve taken the important step of hiring Smith Publicity to help me get national media exposure for this important humanitarian story that has all but been forgotten.

My publicity team leader is Marissa Eigenbrood. Two Mondays ago they sent out the first review copies and made the first media contacts. Two days later the first positive reply was from a reporter for the New York Times! A great start! Let’s hope it’s only the beginning.

End of Post  

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