David Perry, a native of Bristol and a retired professor of American History at the University of New Haven, recently penned a book entitled, “Bluff, Bluster, Lies and Spies,” a 336-page, hardcover reader about President Abraham Lincoln, the State Department work of William Henry Seward, and their combined foreign policy and relations between 1861 and 1865.
“Because the Civil War is all about battles and generals, did we have a foreign policy then and who enforced it?” was the question Perry asked himself when writing the book. “We had a lousy secretary of state who did a lousy job before 1861. We had a professional state machinery all over the world that was managed by our State Department. If England brought in food, guns and other things to the Confederate side, we would have ended up with having three separate countries.”
During the Civil War, Lincoln had to be careful not to steer the British to the Confederate side, while Britain needed to retain influence on American foreign policy. Also, there were spies, arms dealers, detectives and publicists to influence the validity of both the Union and Confederate causes. The book tells how the outcome of the Civil War in American came down to the battlefields with the powers of the Old World deciding not to intervene.
Perry is son of the late Douglas D. Perry, M.D. and June M. (Balf) Perry of Bristol and has written several publications in Civil War journals and magazines. He was selected by National Public Radio to do an interview on Abraham Lincoln to commemorate the president’s 200th birthday in 2009, and the following year did a national radio broadcast from New York comparing the State Department work of Seward with that of Hillary Rodman Clinton. He’s also shared mutual assistance with David Herbert Donald, a Pulitzer Prize winner whose Lincoln biography has become a standard.
Perry currently resides in Florida and continues to give online courses for the University of New Haven. He’s working on a screenplay for his second book, with the initial title of “Capital Chaos; Lincoln’s Washington 1861-1865.”
There will be a book signing of “Bluff, Bluster, Lies and Spies” by the author at the Bristol Public Library at 1 p.m. on Sept. 27.
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