O'Connell, Robert L. 1944-
O'Connell, Robert L. 1944-
Born December 27, 1944, in New York, NY; son of Robert J. (an electrical engineer) and Dorothy (a paralegal) O'Connell; married October 17, 1970; wife's name Benjie (a special education teacher); children: Jessica O'Connell Taylor, Lucy. Ethnicity: "White/Irish." Education: Attended Colgate University, 1966; University of Virginia, M.A., 1968, Ph.D., 1974. Politics: "Mid-range secular-humanist Democrat." Religion: "Mid-range secular-humanist Democrat."
National Ground Intelligence Center, Charlottesville, VA, intelligence analyst, 1975-2005; Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, visiting professor of defense analysis, 2005-06.
Of Arms and Men: A History of War, Weapons, and Aggression, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1989.
Sacred Vessels: The Cult of the Battleship and the Rise of the U.S. Navy, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1991.
Ride of the Second Horseman: The Birth and Death of War, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1995.
Fast Eddie: A Novel in Many Voices, Morrow (New York, NY), 1999.
Soul of the Sword: An Illustrated History of Weaponry and Warfare from Prehistory to the Present, Free Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Robert L. O'Connell told CA: "I'm not sure why I write, but the urge to do so is pretty much with me all the time. All of my books emerged out of elaborate fantasies; in the case of the histories I was much more focused and grounded by the facts related to my subject, but they still amounted to stories of a sort. The novels, of course, are a purer form of this experience.
"My writing has come along slowly, really over the course of a lifetime. It seems I was always headed toward fiction but was too timid to dive in. So I approached it obliquely, gradually sidling from fact to fiction until I felt, at age sixty, pretty much a fullfledged novelist. My last barrier was to learn to write convincingly about a complex female character, and I think I managed to do that with Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
"I don't do short fiction. Since my workable ideas are few, I have to expand them into longer pieces. As a novel works itself out, I definitely get the sensation that the words are coming from someplace else. In part this may be due to my own perception that the state of consciousness while writing is that of a trance—very much an altered state of mind. I seem to be dancing through a shadow world of thought, hooking ideas one by one and gaffing them into my vessel, but in no way am I responsible for those thoughts. They are just there."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 1999, Ray Olson, review of Fast Eddie: A Novel in Many Voices, p. 2030; January 1, 2000, review of Fast Eddie, p. 818; September 1, 2002, Roland Green, review of Soul of the Sword: An Illustrated History of Weaponry and Warfare from Prehistory to the Present, p. 27.
History Today, August, 1998, Paul Rogers, review of Ride of the Second Horseman: The Birth and Death of War, p. 59.
Library Journal, July, 2002, Dale Farris, review of Soul of the Sword, p. 98.
Publishers Weekly, June 28, 1999, review of Fast Eddie, p. 50.