Leepson, Marc 1945-

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Leepson, Marc 1945-

PERSONAL: Born June 20, 1945, in Newark, NJ; son of Arthur and Selma Ruth Leepson; married Janna Murphy, August 29, 1970; children: Devin Patrick Murphy, Cara Rose. Education: George Washington University, B.A., 1967, M.A., 1971.

ADDRESSES: Home—Middleburg, VA. Office—P.O. Box 1889, Middleburg, VA 20118. Agent—Joseph Brendan Vallely, Flaming Star Literary Enterprises, 320 Riverside Dr., New York, NY, 10025. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Congressional Quarterly, Washington, DC, proofreader, 1974-75, editorial assistant for Congressional Quarterly Researcher, 1975-76, staff writer, 1976-86; freelance writer, 1986—. U.S. Information Agency, writer for Overseas News Service. Consultant, Vietnam Veterans of America, 1987; president of advisory board, Middleburg, VA, Library, 1995; member of board of directors, YMCA of Loudon County, Leesburg, VA, 1996. Military service: U.S. Army, 1967-69; served in Vietnam.

WRITINGS:

Executive Fitness, McGraw Hill (New York, NY), 1982.

The Alive and Well Stress Book, Bantam (New York, NY), 1984.

(Editor) Webster’s New World Dictionary of the Vietnam War, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

Saving Monticello: The Levy Family’s Epic Quest to Rescue the House that Jefferson Built, Free Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Flag: An American Biography, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Desperate Engagement: How a Little-Known Civil War Battle Saved Washington, D.C., and Changed American History, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to books, including What Should We Tell Our Children about Vietnam?, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 1989; Nam: The Vietnam Experience, Mallard/BDD, 1989; and Vietnam War Films, McFarland and Co. (Jefferson, NC), 1994. Contributor to magazines and newspapers, including Smithsonian, Preservation, Washingtonian, Common Cause, Vietnam, New York Times, and Washington Post. Columnist and arts editor, VVA Veteran, 1986—.

SIDELIGHTS: Marc Leepson got his start as a writer working for Congressional Quarterly in Washington, DC, contributing additional work to periodicals such as Smithsonian, Preservation, Washingtonian, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, and the New York Times before eventually becoming a freelance writer full time. Knowledgeable about politics and early American history, he has been interviewed on a number of television news programs, such as The Today Show, and has presented academic papers at several universities. He has served as editor on a number of books, too, as well as writing his own.

Saving Monticello: The Levy Family’s Epic Quest to Rescue the House that Jefferson Built tells the story of how Thomas Jefferson died with a massive amount of debt, thereby forcing his family to sell the once-glorious house he had devoted so much time to building. Commodore Uriah Phillips Levy purchased the estate eight years after Jefferson’s death, and he determined to bring it back to its original state. Leepson’s book chronicles not only the story of these efforts, but also Levy’s colorful life, which included his adventures as one of the few Jews in the U.S. Navy and his efforts to end the use of corporal punishment in the military. When the government and the Civil War caused Levy’s efforts on behalf of Monticello to fail, other family members stepped in and continued his mission, making the Levy family some of the first individuals to express an interest in preserving the United States’ historic buildings. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that “Leepson’s absorbing account is an overdue chronicle and homage to the national treasure and its memorable saviors.”

In Flag: An American Biography Leepson provides readers with a history of the American flag, including the well-known stories regarding Betsy Ross and Francis Scott Key and the array of nicknames accorded to the flag through the years. He also relates the lesser-known tales and more recent issues, such as the debate over whether or not it should be illegal to burn or otherwise harm a U.S. flag. He explains how the flag’s popularity grew particularly around the time of the Civil War, when nationalism was a major political topic. Gilbert Taylor, in a review for Booklist, called Leepson’s book an “evenhanded, myth-sifting account” of the flag’s history.

Desperate Engagement: How a Little-Known Civil War Battle Saved Washington, D.C., and Changed American History tells the story of the 1864 Battle of Monocacy Junction. It was a small skirmish in Maryland that the Confederate Army won because of their overwhelming numbers: they had three times the soldiers as the Union regiment against which they fought. Leepson maintains that, despite the Union loss on the field, the battle ultimately swayed the war because it caused a delay in the following attack on Washington, D.C., by a day. This allowed time for additional Union soldiers to reach the capital and reinforce the city, ultimately saving it. Again reviewing for Booklist, Taylor declared that Leepson “acquits himself well in the overall battle narrative, producing a campaign history that will count with the Civil War set.”

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 1, 2005, Gilbert Taylor, review of Flag: An American Biography, p. 1562; June 1, 2007, Gilbert Taylor, review of Desperate Engagement: How a Little-Known Civil War Battle Saved Washington, D.C., and Changed American History, p. 22.

Publishers Weekly, October 1, 2001, review of Saving Monticello: The Levy Family’s Epic Quest to Rescue the House that Jefferson Built, p. 45.

ONLINE

Marc Leepson Web site, http://www.marcleepson.com (January 15, 2008).*

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