Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the ninety-first, is of author and editor Steven Mercatante.
Steven D. Mercatante, JD, is a lifelong resident of Michigan, and the founder and editor-in-chief of The Globe at War (www.globeatwar.com); a website focused on exploring World War II that has established the author as a respected authority on the subject. He is a corporate tax attorney; member of the State Bar of Michigan; and founder and principal of TIR Consulting LLC – a consulting firm specializing in international, federal, state, and local tax compliance. Mercatante received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a teaching certificate in history and political science from Eastern Michigan University, and a juris doctorate from Michigan State University College of Law, graduating with a concentration in International Law. His published works include many writings in the legal and historical fields, including the 2008 journal article The Deregulation of Usury Ceilings, Rise of Easy Credit and Increasing Consumer Debt published in the South Dakota Law Review.
And now from the author himself:
Why Germany Nearly Won: A New History of the Second World War in Europe – The Story behind How I Came to Write My Book, The Book’s Thesis, and its Reception
I have been interested in World War II since I was very young. It was really a combination of exposure to different people and things that came together all around the same age. My grandfather was a sergeant in the U.S. Army who served in the Philippines during WWII. He shared some of his experiences and gave me his medals and other memorabilia from the war. My father is also a U.S. Army veteran who served in Korea in the early 1960s, and he gave me similar memorabilia. My great uncle was a Korean War U.S. Army veteran. All of them spoke freely about their experiences.
In addition, as a child I loved to draw and for some reason I started gravitating toward drawing planes, tanks, and ships – things of that sort. Furthermore, I love to read and have loved reading since as far back as I can remember. When I was young I got a hold of some history books and was hooked. I think history is absolutely fascinating. My Mother was very important in encouraging my joy of reading. Not only did she like reading, but she encouraged it. She would take my sister and I to the library to check out books. She would also take us to a used paperback book store in town that had all kinds of books – including quite a few of the old WWII Bantam Paperback series. In addition, I had some great teachers who encouraged my interests in history and writing. I won young author’s awards in the fourth grade at elementary school, and in the sixth grade at middle school. My sixth grade young author’s award actually was for a book I wrote about a B-17 bomber crew fighting over Europe in the Second World War.
From there I continued studying the Second World War – it has actually been three decades now and I have read thousands of books, articles and other documents on the war. Beginning in the 1990’s I tracked with great interest the wealth of new documentation/information that has emerged from the Russian archives following the fall of the Soviet Union. As I learned and read ever more about the war it became obvious to me that something was amiss in regards to explanations of the outcome of the Second World War in Europe. In short, there was a conventional wisdom that had evolved over time. One somewhat politicized due to the nature of the Cold War and lack of access to Russian archives – with a corresponding overreliance by historians on German-centric sources that were often self-serving, but that, nevertheless also seemed to have constructed an overly simplistic narrative explaining the outcome of, in particularly, the war in Europe. This narrative essentially reduced the war’s outcome as one overwhelmingly the cause of sheer numbers – meaning the fact that the combined economic resources available to the Allies and Soviet Union dwarfed German resources and for the most part finding that once Germany decided to attack the Soviet Union it had essentially lost the war. But this narrative didn’t add up – so to speak – there was something not quite right with it in my mind.
For instance how did a quantitatively smaller, and often time technically inferior armed, Wehrmacht (the name given of Nazi Germany’s combined armed forces) run circles around enemies with far more “brute force” strength in 1939-1942 but then lose the war in 1943-45 for reasons often attributed to brute force and mass. This led me to a qualitative vs. quantitative analysis of the war that would ultimately develop into the thesis for this book:
That the re-establishment of the traditional German art of war—updated to accommodate new weapons systems—paved the way for Germany to forge a considerable military edge over its much larger potential rivals by playing to its qualitative strengths as a continental power. However, these methodologies also created and exacerbated internal contradictions that undermined the same war machine, and left it vulnerable to enemies with the capacity to adapt and build on potent military traditions of their own – in essence developing the qualitative ability to best an enemy that no amount of quantitative preponderance had been able to vanquish. Nevertheless, because of the German military establishment’s initial qualitative strengths, Hitler, through his invasion of the Soviet Union, came within a whisker of cementing a European-based empire that would have allowed the Third Reich to challenge the Anglo-American alliance for global hegemony—an outcome that by commonly cited measures of military potential Germany never should have had even a remote chance of accomplishing.
By this time I was a law student at the Michigan State University College of Law. Because of my early interest in the Second World War I had developed quite an interest in all things “international”. In fact, my decision to attend MSU’s Law College had come about because I had noticed they had an international law program (actually MSU was the only law school I even applied to, I took the LSAT in June, and was accepted into MSU in July – it was that simple). Then, as a first year student, my contracts professor had convinced me that between my first and second year of law school I needed to get direct work experience in my area of interest. As a result, I was able to find a program whereby students could spend the summer studying in Rome, Italy and working (for college credit) at a participating law firm or business that chose them from the pool of students participating in the program. I was chosen by a British international law firm (Allen & Overy – one of the biggest in the world no less) and worked in their Rome office (attaining valuable exposure to areas of the law such as international securities, contracts, and mergers & acquisitions). During that summer in Italy I met a lot of interesting people and in the course of conversations with them I revealed that I had been debating about writing a book even though the time commitments of law school were so great – they helped encourage me to push myself and do it. So, between my access to Michigan State’s library, and my familiarity and access to the University of Michigan’s libraries and collections (where I received my undergraduate degree), in my free time I was able to actively test and research my thesis for explaining the outcome of the war in Europe. The more I looked for evidence to disprove my theories the more I realized I was on to something. As such research turned to writing.
In the meantime, during my third year of law school I was clerking at a small local firm that specialized in probate matters. There I gained my first real practical exposure to tax issues – i.e. those that came with dealing with wills and trusts. Needless to say I was not interested in probate law so I left this firm, and when the opportunity came to work at a small firm in Detroit (one specializing in corporate matters) I took it. Unfortunately I was only there for a very brief of period of time as they did not have enough work for me. However, I was able to land on my feet as an in-house attorney at a company in Ann Arbor that handled various tax issues. When that company folded I started my own business based upon my experience there, and ever since my firm has grown. Today I continue to specialize in international, federal, state, and local tax compliance matters. During that time period I finished my manuscript, with a big assist in doing some final research coming from the interlibrary loan program previously offered by the Brighton Public Library, submitted it to several publishers and in 2010 signed a contract with ABC-CLIO’s Praeger imprint that led to the publication of this book.
Since the book’s hardcover publishing in the United States the response has been overwhelmingly positive. The book went into its second print run within only one month and has received endorsements from several notable military historians.
For more on the book, a teachers / readers guide created especially for the book, and a complete bibliography see http://www.globeatwar.com. Finally, the book will soon be available in the United Kingdom, from the publisher Casemate.
For any further information please feel free to contact Steven by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much, Steven.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with non-fiction business author Rosanne D’Ausilio – the three hundred and ninety-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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