Melton, Buckner F., Jr.
Melton, Buckner F., Jr.
Education: Mercer University, Atlanta, GA, graduated magna cum laude, 1984; Duke University, master's degree, 1986, Ph.D., 1990; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, law degree, 1996.
Writer, historian, lawyer, and educator. Duke University, Durham, NC, history instructor, 1989; Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, visiting assistant professor of history, 1990-91; Elon College, Elon, NC, assistant professor of history, 1991-96; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, clinical associate professor of law, c. 1996-c. 2003; Mercer University, Atlanta, GA, writer-in-residence and Mercer University Press fellow, 2003—.
The First Impeachment: The Constitution's Framers and the Case of Senator William Blount, Mercer University Press (Macon, GA), 1998.
A Hanging Offense: The Strange Affair of the Warship Somers, Free Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Aaron Burr: The Rise and Fall of an American Politician, PowerPlus Books (New York, NY), 2004.
(Editor) The Quotable Founding Fathers: A Treasury of 2,500 Wise and Witty Quotations from the Men and Women Who Created America, Brassey (Washington, DC), 2004.
Sea Cobra: Admiral Halsey's Task Force and the Great Pacific Typhoon, Lyons Press (Guilford, CT), 2007.
Also guest columnist for the News & Observer, Raleigh, NC, and the Macon Telegraph.
In his first book, The First Impeachment: The Constitution's Framers and the Case of Senator William Blount, historical and political writer Buckner F. Melton, Jr., writes of the first effort to impeach a sitting U.S. senator. The case took place in 1797 and focused on Blount, a senator from Tennessee, who was alleged to have colluded with the British to begin a war against Spain in the American Southwest so that he could profit from land speculation. A contributor to the American Historical Review called The First Impeachment a ‘detailed, thoughtful, fair-minded, and highly readable account.’ Writing in the Historian, Alan Rogers noted: ‘Melton's retelling of Blount's conspiracy and trial is clear."
The author continues to focus on political intrigue in Aaron Burr: Conspiracy to Treason. This time, Melton chronicles the rise and fall of the noted American historical figure Aaron Burr, who was a Revolutionary War hero and accomplished lawyer who mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. Three years after the duel, Burr went on trial for treason for offering to help the British by leading a revolt of frontier territories west of the Appalachians. The trial highlighted the political vanities and machinations of the U.S. founding fathers but ended in an acquittal for Burr, partly due to the animosity between President Thomas Jefferson, who had Burr arrested, and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. ‘Thanks to the writing of Buckner Melton Jr I have thoroughly enjoyed my insight into the life of Aaron Burr,’ wrote a contributor to M2 Best Books. ‘He not only grabbed my attention in the beginning but also managed to keep it throughout what appears to be an accurately written and well researched book.’ Other reviewers also had high praise for Aaron Burr. ‘Stories of important men behaving badly usually make entertaining reading, and this is no exception,’ wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Another reviewer writing in Publishers Weekly noted that the author ‘weaves a spellbinding tale of betrayal and intrigue against the backdrop of a new nation struggling to define its laws and its geographical boundaries."
A Hanging Offense: The Strange Affair of the Warship Somers was called ‘a superb recounting of a strange affair’ by a Kirkus Reviews contributor. The book focuses on the hanging of three accused mutineers, including the son of the secretary of war, on the warship Somers during a training cruise in 1842. The hanging led to the subsequent court martial of Commander Alexander Mackenzie. Karri Watson, writing on the Curled Up with a Good Book Web site, noted that the author ‘does an excellent job of keeping the pace of the story moving, using colorful descriptions and even waxing poetic on more than one occasion.’ A Publishers Weekly contributor referred to A Hanging Offense as a ‘coherent and absorbing study."
Melton once again writes about Aaron Burr in Aaron Burr: The Rise and Fall of an American Politician. This time the author provides a view of Burr's entire life, from his childhood to his later years spent in England following his trial for treason. School Library Journal contributor Denise Moore noted that the book is a good resource for school research projects, noting that ‘students … will find the short chapters, time lines, and indexes very helpful."
Melton returns to writing about the high seas with his book Sea Cobra: Admiral Halsey's Task Force and the Great Pacific Typhoon. The author focuses on a great typhoon that struck off the coast of the Philippine Islands in the fall of 1944, causing casualties and extensive damage to the U.S. Third Fleet. In addition to describing the typhoon and the damage it inflicted, the author examines the Navy's poor weather forecasting and the subsequent inquiry into the disaster. In a review in Booklist, Roland Green called the author's book a ‘powerful account.’ A Publishers Weekly contributor noted the author's ‘straightforward, gripping narrative."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, October, 1999, review of The First Impeachment: The Constitution's Framers and the Case of Senator William Blount.
American Lawyer, January, 2002, review of Aaron Burr: Conspiracy to Treason, p. 64.
Booklist, November 15, 2001, Jay Freeman, review of Aaron Burr: Conspiracy to Treason, p. 545; March 15, 2003, Jay Freeman, review of A Hanging Offense: The Strange Affair of the Warship Somers, p. 1259; March 1, 2007, Roland Green, review of Sea Cobra: Admiral Halsey's Task Force and the Great Pacific Typhoon, p. 58.
Historian, spring, 2000, Alan Rogers, review of The First Impeachment, p. 667.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2001, review of Aaron Burr: Conspiracy to Treason, p. 1341; February 1, 2003, review of A Hanging Offense, p. 212.
Library Journal, January, 2002, Charles K. Piehl, review of Aaron Burr: Conspiracy to Treason, p. 124.
M2 Best Books, May 27, 2002, review of Aaron Burr: Conspiracy to Treason.
Publishers Weekly, October 22, 2001, review of Aaron Burr: Conspiracy to Treason, p. 63; January 20, 2003, review of A Hanging Offense, p. 65; January 1, 2007, review of Sea Cobra, p. 43.
School Library Journal, July, 2004, Denise Moore, review of Aaron Burr: The Rise and Fall of an American Politician, p. 126.
Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (October 15, 2007), Karri Watson, review of A Hanging Offense.
Mercer University Web site,http://www2.mercer.edu/ (May 19, 2003), Jenn Butkus, ‘Melton to Serve as Writer-in-Residence, University Press Fellow."
Washingtonpost.com,http://discuss.washingtonpost.com/ (May 23, 2002), ‘A Hanging Offense,’ interview with author.