Doherty, Kieran 1945-
Doherty, Kieran 1945-
PERSONAL: Born March 2, 1945, in Chicago, IL; son of Patrick (a longshoreman) and Mary (a teacher and librarian) Doherty; married Lynne Furet (a freelance editor), April 12, 1991; children: Dylan, Eamon. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Episcopalian.
ADDRESSES: Home—Lake Worth, FL.
CAREER: Author. During early career, worked as a journalist; American Writers and Artists Institute, Delray Beach, FL, copywriter and mentor, 1998—.
MEMBER: Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
AWARDS, HONORS: Voice of Youth Advocates Award for teen fiction, 2004.
NONFICTION; FOR YOUNG READERS
Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients, Enslow Publishers (Springfield, NJ), 1998.
William Penn: Quaker Colonist, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 1998.
Puritans, Pilgrims, and Merchants: Founders of the Northeastern Colonies, Oliver Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1999.
Soldiers, Cavaliers, and Planters: Settlers of the Southeastern Colonies, Oliver Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1999.
William Bradford: Rock of Plymouth, Twenty-first Century Books (Brookfield, CT), 1999.
Explorers, Missionaries, and Trappers: Trailblazers of the West, Oliver Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2000.
Ranchers, Homesteaders, and Traders: Frontiersmen of the South-Central States, Oliver Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2001.
To Conquer Is to Live: The Life of Captain John Smith of Jamestown, Twenty-first Century Books (Brookfield, CT), 2001.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Guardian of the ‘Glades, Twenty-first Century Books (Brookfield, CT), 2002.
Voyageurs, Lumberjacks, and Farmers: Pioneers of the Midwest, Oliver Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.
Ronald Reagan: America’s 40th President, Children’s Press (New York, NY), 2005.
John F. Kennedy: America’s 35th President, Children’s Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Sea Venture: Shipwreck, Survival, and the Salvation of the First English Colony in the New World, St. Martin’s Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Also author of scripts for travel documentaries. Contributor to periodicals.
SIDELIGHTS: Kieran Doherty is the author of both biographies and nonfiction books suitable for children and young-adult readers. A former journalist, Doherty, inspired by his interest in American history, moved into writing books after a career as a freelance writer. Among the titles to his credit are the biography Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Guardian of the ‘Glades and the histories Voyageurs, Lumberjacks, and Farmers: Pioneers of the Midwest and Ranchers, Homesteaders, and Traders: Frontiersmen of the South-Central States, the latter two being part of Oliver Press’s “Shaping America” series.
Doherty’s first historical work for younger readers is Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients. Here he provides biographical information on eleven recipients of the highest military honor it is possible to receive in the United States. He discusses the lives and heroism of individuals such as Jacob Parrot, recipient of the first Medal of Honor in 1863; William Carney, the first African American to be awarded the medal; and famed World War I “Ace of Aces” Eddie Rickenbacker. Doherty also relates the story behind the only female recipient of the Medal of Honor, who saw her honor revoked by the government, though it was later reinstated after her death. The author traces the development of the award and the circumstances for which it has been awarded for bravery above and beyond the call of duty. Doherty’s “well-written” biographies “give individual faces to those who have risked their lives for a greater good,”commented Booklist reviewer Shelle Rosenfeld.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas is the life story of Douglas, who endured childhood tragedy and a failed marriage before she found her place as a writer and conservationist of the Florida Everglades. After her divorce, she moved to Florida to live with her father, whom she had not seen for twenty years. There, she flourished as a writer, enjoying much success. Her attention became fixed on the wild wetlands of the Everglades and the attempts by land developers to drain them and claim the land for building projects. For the remainder of her life, Douglas was an advocate for the Everglades and worked to protect the fragile ecosystems and natural resources there. Doherty includes a detailed bibliography of primary, secondary, and newspaper sources on Douglas’s life and work. “Her evolution as a conservationist is eloquently described in this biography,” remarked Patricia Ann Owens in School Library Journal.
Voyageurs, Lumberjacks, and Farmers provides readers with a general history of the European exploration of North America, was well as noting the importance that eight core individuals played in settling the Midwest: Antoine Cadillac in founding Detroit, Michigan; Charles Langlade in Wisconsin; Jean du Sable in Chicago; George Rogers Clark in Indiana; Rufus Putnam in Ohio; Julien Dubuque in Iowa; and Josiah and Abigail Snelling in Minnesota. Doherty delves into each of the founders’ backgrounds, as well as their motivations for exploring. In addition, the author discusses the effects these European settlers had on Native American inhabitants and the relationships that were subsequently fostered between the two groups. A combination of black-and-white illustrations and photographs serve to depict the tough terrains of America’s unsettled middle west and the harsh, day-to-day realities faced by westward-bound settlers. Lana Miles wrote in School Library Journal that, “written in a lively manner, this volume offers readers good information and good reading.”
Ranchers, Homesteaders, and Traders follows a similar format in describing the lives of seven colorful individuals who helped settle the South Central United States and who in some cases have become part of the fabric of American legend: Stephen Austin and Sam Houston, both of Texas; Jenry de Tonty of Arkansas; Auguste Chouteau of Missouri; Daniel Boone of Kentucky; John Sevier of Tennessee; and Eli Thayer of Kansas. Each of these men “come alive” through Doherty’s use of quotes, either from the subjects themselves or from the men and women who knew them, noted Miles in another School Library Journal review. Roger Leslie, writing in Booklist, dubbed Ranchers, Homesteaders, and Traders “an excellent resource.”
Doherty pushes his American settler biographies farther across the country with Explorers, Missionaries, and Trappers: Trailblazers of the West, an exploration of nine pioneers who helped tame the American West. His subjects include important personalities such as Mormon pioneer Brigham Young; John Sutter, who owned the mill where gold was first discovered in 1848, leading to the famous California Gold Rush; Juan de Onante, a Spanish conquistador; Spanish priests Eusebio Kino and Junipero Serra; and physician and missionary Marcus Whitman and his wife, Narcissa. Doherty’s book provides a “clear perspective on the differing motives for white settlement and will be an excellent report source,” noted Mary Mueller, writing in School Library Journal.
Another pair of Doherty’s books focuses on important individuals and events in the Jamestown colony, the first permanent English settlement in North America. To Conquer Is to Live: The Life of Captain John Smith of Jamestown describes Smith’s adventures in the British military, his life in London, and his pivotal role in the settlement of Jamestown. Doherty also provides some insight into Smith’s motivations and personality, including his abrupt manner, forged by his military training, and his sometimes coarse sense of humor. Of Smith’s renowned relationship with Pocahontas, the daughter of a Native American chief, Doherty concludes that it was not impossible, but circumstances render the scenario unlikely. School Library Journal reviewer Laura Glaser called the book a “well-written, appealing biography.”
Sea Venture: Shipwreck, Survival, and the Salvation of the First English Colony in the New World recounts the disastrous voyage of the Sea Venture in 1609 and its intended mission of delivering desperately needed supplies and manpower to the Jamestown colony after a brutally harsh winter nearly wiped the settlement out. The ship encountered troubles of its own when a violent storm smashed it aground on Bermuda, an island that had not yet been explored by the British. The survivors found Bermuda to be quite hospitable, and eventually they used the remaining timbers from the Sea Venture to build two new ships that completed the voyage to Jamestown. The sailors discovered a ravaged colony with a population reduced by almost 90 percent. The supplies from Bermuda quickly ran out, and the colony was on the verge of being abandoned when a relief fleet from England arrived. Doherty further examines how sailors from the Sea Venture brought news of Bermuda’s abundant natural resources back to England, and how sailors who stayed behind on the island discovered the valuable substance ambergris. Ultimately, the Sea Venture and those involved with the mission were instrumental in assuring the success of the fledgling American colonies.
Doherty’s “well-told yarn reveals the impulses both noble and base underlying any colonial enterprise, but it’s even more effective in showing the unsettling degree to which luck stirs human destinies,” mused a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Library Journal critic Douglas King found the story of the Sea Venture to be “fascinating, riveting, and well told.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 1998, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients, p. 1231; November 15, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of William Penn: Quaker Colonist, p. 576; August, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Soldiers, Cavaliers, and Planters: Settlers of the Southeastern Colonies, p. 2050; August, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Puritans, Pilgrims, and Merchants: Founders of the Northeastern Colonies, p. 2050; December 1, 1999, Todd Morning, review of William Bradford: Rock of Plymouth, p. 691; May 1, 2002, Roger Leslie, review of Ranchers, Homesteaders, and Traders: Frontiersmen of the South-Central States, p. 1516.
Cobblestone, September, 2006, review of To Conquer Is to Live: The Life of Captain John Smith of Jamestown, p. 44.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2007, review of Sea Venture: Shipwreck, Survival, and the Salvation of the First English Colony in the New World.
Library Journal, May 1, 2007, Douglas King, review of Sea Venture, p. 90.
Maclean’s, June 22, 1981, Brendan Keenan, “An Uneasy Balance, a Harder Irish Line,” p. 22.
Publishers Weekly, March 19, 2007, review of Sea Venture, p. 56.
School Library Journal, January, 1999, Marilyn Heath, review of William Penn, p. 138; October, 1999, Lynn W. Zimmerman, review of Soldiers, Cavaliers, and Planters, p. 167; January, 2000, Elaine Fort Weischedel, review of William Bradford, p. 142; January, 2000, Elaine Fort Weischedel, review of Puritans, Pilgrims, and Merchants, p. 142; May, 2000, Mary Mueller, review of Explorers, Missionaries, and Trappers: Trailblazers of the West, p. 180; December, 2001, Laura Glaser, review of To Conquer Is to Live, p. 158; January, 2002, Lana Miles, review of Ranchers, Homesteaders, and Traders, p. 152; December, 2002, Patricia Ann Owens, review of Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Guardian of the Glades, p. 158; September, 2004, Lana Miles, review of Voyageurs, Lumberjacks, and Farmers: Pioneers of the Midwest, p. 225; January, 2007, Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, review of To Conquer Is to Live, p. 55.
Science Books & Films, May, 2003, review of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, p. 114.
Social Education, May, 2000, review of William Bradford, p. 5.
Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 1998, review of Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients, p. 218; August, 2003, review of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, p. 245.*