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Robert H. Patton
Robert H. Patton


NYS Writers Institute, April 29, 2014
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Standish Room, Science Library, UAlbany Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading |Assembly Hall, Campus Center, UAlbany Uptown Campus


Robert H. Patton, novelist, historian, and grandson of legendary World War II General George S. Patton, will read from Hell Before Breakfast (2014), a history of American war journalism between 1860 and 1910, on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. in the Assembly Hall, located in the Campus Center on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the Standish Room, Science Library on the UAlbany uptown campus. Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and co-sponsored by the University at Albany’s Journalism Program in celebration of its 40th Anniversary.


Robert H. Patton’s
new book is Hell Before Breakfast: America’s First War Correspondents Making History and Headlines, from the Battlefields of the Civil War to the Far  Reaches of the Ottoman Empire (2014), an in-depth history of American war journalism between 1860 and 1910. Taking its title from a quote about reporters by General William Tecumseh Sherman, Hell Before Breakfast spans the globe, from the American Civil War and the Spanish-American War to conflicts in Europe and Asia, to celebrate America’s forgotten war correspondents and highlight the impact of their reportage on contemporary journalism and global politics as well as on literature and the arts. Drawing extensively from primary source material, the booktells the stories of figures such as John Russell Young, who later served as the Librarian of Congress from 1897 to 1899, Henry M. Stanley, alleged speaker of the famous quote, “Dr. Livingston, I presume?” and Frank Millet, a war correspondent as well as an acclaimed painter who died in 1912 as a passenger on RMS Titanic.

In a March 1, 2014 review, Kirkus Reviews praised Hell Before Breakfast as a “densely researched, swift-moving account full of fighting detail,” and Booklist said, “Patton offers a fascinating cast of characters as he details major conflagrations and social and technological changes amid the gore of war and the prose of reporters of another era.”

Patton is the author of the bestselling memoir, The Pattons: A Personal History of an American Family (1994), which draws on his own life as well as on private letters and diaries to offer an intimate portrait of the illustrious Patton legacy. The New York Times Book Review called it, “a compelling narrative… a book full of delicious characters in a prose style that is equal to their vigor.” Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post named it one of the best books of the year.

Patton’s most recent nonfiction work, Patriot Pirates: The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution (2008), is an “entertaining and enlightening” contribution to the study of American Revolution naval history (The Washington Post Book World). Writer and editor Michael Korda called it, “Soul-stirring—as good as reading a Patrick O’Brian novel, except that every word is true.”

Patton is also the author of two novels, both published in 1997, Up, Down & Sideways and Life Between Wars. In a review of Up, Down & Sideways, Library Journal said, “Patton’s first-person narrative is rich with comic episodes and wry phrasing, and his picaresque tale provides insight into recurring problems between fathers and sons, husbands and wives, and lovers of all descriptions.”  Kirkus Reviews called Life Between Wars, “an edgy, tough-minded portrait of the lives, secrets, resentments, and longings of a group of year-round residents on Penscot Island (a place overwhelmed by tourists in the summer, but isolated and grim through much of the rest of the year),” and said, “The voices ring true, the victories here are believably muted, and Patton’s evocation of a harsh, beautiful place is exact and convincing. A precise, powerful effort.”

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.