Richard Osborne, author and publisher at Riebel Roque, INC, took some time to tell us about himself and his work
Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in the Corn Belt- Indianapolis, IN.
Can you tell us a bit about any history of military service in your family?
I served in the US peacetime Navy in the late 1950s. I spent most of my time in an office sailing a typewriter.
There is little history of military service in my family- I have no brothers or sisters, my father was too young to serve in WWI and too old to serve in
WWII. I have always loved military history and growing up in the 1930s, I enjoyed hearing the WWI veterans talking about their experiences. I had an uncle who served in Panama
During WWI and, for the rest of his life, he told people that he helped keep the Kaiser out of Panama.
What kind ofbooks did you read growing up? Which had the greatest
impact on you?
I read very few books as a youth, but did read Life Magazine, Colliers and we took two newspapers and listened to Lowell Thomas and Edward R.
Murrow on the radio. When WW II started, I knew that I was experiencing a very unique time in history and cut out articles and photos from the various
publications and kept scrapbooks which I still have.
What did you do before you started (or in addition) writing? Did you have
any odd jobs?
I had a very common childhood; school, sports, household chores, vacations and, with time, girls. I graduated with a degree in Mechanical
Engineering from the Univ. of Illinois in 1954 and soon took a job as a travelling salesman selling tooling components and small machinery to the
metal working industry. As for odd jobs, I carried newspapers, shoveled snow, cut grass and, at 14, landed a job as a soda jerk in a drugstore. This was 1945, the war was still
on, there was a labor shortage and a kid like me could get a job like that. It was a sweet job. I got my fill of ice cream and other sweet and gooey stuff.
When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer? What is it about
writing that appeals to you?
As a travelling salesman I spent many nights on the road and began reading books about WW II because I had experienced it as a youth and also enjoyed
hearing the many veterans tell their stories. Within about a year I realized that I could write about some of the information I had and was continually
acquiring and that, maybe, someday I could write articles on WW II. I enjoy reading about and writing about WW II because it’s a never-ending
What fascinates you about revisiting the past and bringing it to life in a
I enjoy reading about the unusual and oddball events of WW II. There’s lots of it. As an example; do you know that Adolf Hitler had a nephew who
served in the US Navy? I have written a book on WW II trivia and currently give brief lectures entitled “WW II Trivia” at two military groups each
month. My next lecture is entitled “Hitler’s Sibling.” He had a brother and two sisters and their lives were very interesting.
How much research do you do or your books? Can you give us some tips on
I have been studying WW II for over 50 years (I’m 85) and have read over 600 books on WW II history and have gleaned info from every one of them
on to hand written 3” x 5” cards. I started before we had computers. I have also read parts of several hundred other books and gleaned specific info
from them. I also use the web a lot and photocopy documents from there. I have over 100,000 cards and documents in my archives and they are
invaluable in writing my books. I have promised my archives to the Ft. Wayne Library after my passing. The only tip that I can offer is — if you
love your work, be persistent and keep accurate files.
How do you relax? Do you have any hobbies?
Reading and writing about WW II is my hobby. As for relaxing, since I am retired I take a nap anytime I damn well please.
What are you working on at the moment?
My next book will be entitled “What We Were Not Supposed to Know During WW II— a Study in Censorship and Misinformation.” There’s a lot
of stuff that was kept secret from us then and is still secret today. I’ll tell about FDR’s and Lucy Mercer’s ongoing love affair right up to the moment
of his death. And it is my contention that we had a small arsenal of atomic bombs by early 1945 and could have used them in Europe. The evidence to
support this theory is quite strong. You can learn what that evidence is and why I believe this is true by buying my next book. Stay tuned–
Richard E. Osborne, 2016