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Bestselling novelist James Alexander Thom to speak at Bridgewater College

James Alexander Thom, whose fictional accounts of such historic figures as Tecumseh and George Rogers Clark have sold more than 2 million copies, will speak at Bridgewater College Sept. 7 at 7:00 p.m. in Cole Hall.

bridgewater collegeHis topic, “Once Upon a Time, It Was Now,” focuses on how to teach history to students (or anyone) who thinks they’re not at all interested in history.

Thom is the author of the phenomenally successful “Follow the River,” which tells the story of Mary Ingles and how she was captured by Shawnee Indians in a raid on her peaceful Virginia settlement during the French and Indian War. His 1981 novel of her imprisonment, escape and harrowing, 1,000-mile trek through the frontier was an instant best-seller, and continues to sell between 30,000 and 40,000 copies a year to this day.

“Panther in the Sky” is the story of the great Shawnee warrior-chief Tecumseh, and also of the birth of the American frontier peopled with the likes of Daniel Boone, George Rogers Clark and “Mad Anthony” Wayne. “Panther in the Sky” won the Western Writers of America SPUR Award for Best Novel in 1989.

Thom’s other works include “From Sea to Shining Sea,” “Long Knife,” “The Red Heart” and “Sign-Talker.”
Thom is a native of southern Indiana. He is descended from a long line of soldiers, whalers, pioneer farmers, craftsmen and country doctors – all with tales to tell that cover much of American history.

Thom joined the Marine Corps for the Korean War, was graduated from Butler University and was a reporter and columnist for the Indianapolis Star. He was also a freelance magazine editor and journalism professor at the Indiana University School of Journalism before turning full time to the writing of frontier and Indian wars history. Two of his works have been made into television films by Ted Turner and Hallmark.

Thom is also a sculptor and artist and has illustrated two novels and a history book. In 2009 he was the inaugural winner of the annual Indiana Author’s Award, National Category. His writing textbook, “The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction,” was selected by the Indiana State Library in 2011 as the Best Book on Nonfiction. In 2014 he was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.

Thom and his Ohio-born Shawnee Indian wife, Dark Rain, live in a 170-year-old log cabin that Thom moved and reconstructed.

Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to nearly 1,900 undergraduate students.


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