Wednesday with Author Robert Tonsetic

We are pleased to announce that Robert Tonsetic’s third book with Casemate, 1781: The Decisive Year of the Revolutionary War, is now available.  We wanted to find out a little more about the author, and what made him write this latest book.

Why did you write this book?

Life long interest in American History & Military History. I’ve always been interested in military history.  I grew up in western Pennsylvania, and as a child my parents took my siblings and me on field trips to historic sites including battlefields, both in and out of state. I think my first trip to Gettysburg was when I was four or five years old.  My maternal great great grandfather fought there, as well as most of the other major battles in the eastern theater during the Civil War, so that peaked my interest.

There is always something new to learn when one seriously studies the past.  To write about the past, you can’t look back from the present and try to understand what happened. You have to look at the past through the eyes of the people who were there at the time, and keep in mind they had no insight into what would happen in the future.  For example, a confederate soldiers who fought and survived Gettysburg would have known that they didn’t win the battle, but I doubt that few if any of them, would have though that this particular battle was the “high water mark” of the struggle, and that the war was, for all intents and purposes, over at that point.  Otherwise, why would they have fought on for another two years?

What makes it stand out from other books on the subject(lists other books)?  What is it about, your experiences/highlights writing it, feedback etc.

There are numerous books dealing with the American Revolutionary War. Most are broad overviews of the entire war, or focus on particular battles, or prominent historical figures (biographies). None that I know of focus on the year 1781, that I would argue was the pivotal year of American Revolution in terms of the military campaigns fought during that year as well as the diplomatic and political events at home and abroad  during that year.

Do you have any advice for budding military history authors wanting to get published?

The only way to learn how to write is to sit down and start doing it.  Of course you have to do the research first, and that is just as important.  I get calls fairly often from my readers asking how they might get published, and I advise them on how to prepare a proposal, and suggest a few publishers who might be interested in their subject area. Of course there is always the self-publishing route, but you’d better have a degree in marketing, if you want to generate a large number of sales.

 Have you read anything lately that you’d like to recommend to our readers?

I’m currently reading “The Glorious Cause”, by Robert Middlekauff. It’s part of the Oxford History of the United States, and it’s one of the best books ever written on the American Revolution.


Robert L. Tonsetic retired from the U.S. Army at the rank of Colonel, after completing 27 years of active service.  He then completed his Doctorate at the University of Central Florida, and taught at the graduate level for five years, as a member of the adjunct faculty.  He is the author of Warriors: An Infantryman’s Memoir of Vietnam (2004), Days of Valor: An Inside Account of the Bloodiest Six Months of the Vietnam War (2007), and Forsaken Warriors: The Story of an American Advisor with the South Vietnamese Rangers and Airborne, 1970-71 (2009).  He currently resides with his wife, Polly, on Maryland’s eastern shore.

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