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Uschan, Michael V. 1948–

Uschan, Michael V. 1948–

PERSONAL:

Born August 10, 1948, in Milwaukee, WI; son of Vincent (a master machinist) and Rose Marie (a homemaker) Uschan; married Barbara Ann Bates (a teacher), July 18, 1973. Ethnicity: "Austrian-American." Education: University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, B.A., 1970. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Golf, tai chi chuan.

ADDRESSES:

Home and office—Franklin, WI. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

United Press International, reporter and editor, 1970-90; Associated Press, stringer, 1991—. Franklin Public Library Foundation, vice president, 1999-2002.

MEMBER:

Council for Wisconsin Writers.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Juvenile Nonfiction Award, Council for Wisconsin Writers, 2002, for The Korean War, and 2005, for Life of an American Soldier.

WRITINGS:

JUVENILE NONFICTION

A Multicultural Portrait of World War I, Benchmark Books (Tarrytown, NY), 1996.

A Cultural History of the United States: The 1940s, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1999.

A Cultural History of the United States: The 1910s, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1999.

The Importance of John F. Kennedy, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1999.

Tiger Woods, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1999.

Male Olympic Champions, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2000.

America's Founders, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2000.

Westward Expansion, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2000.

Home Run Kings, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2000.

Jesse Ventura, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2000.

Golf, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2001.

The Korean War, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2001.

The Kennedys, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2001.

North Carolina, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2001.

The Drug Library, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2001.

The Fall of Saigon: The End of the Vietnam War, Heinemann Library (Chicago, IL), 2001.

Alcohol, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2002.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2002.

Abraham Lincoln, Raintree Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2002.

Thomas Jefferson, Raintree Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 2002.

Politicians and Military Strategists, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2003.

Political Leaders, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2003.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2003.

The Cavalry during the Civil War, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2003.

The California Gold Rush, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2003.

The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2003.

(With Sabrina Crewe) The California Gold Rush, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 2003.

(With Sabrina Crewe) The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 2003.

Wisconsin, KidHaven Press (San Diego, CA), 2003.

Weapons of War, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2003.

The Salem Witch Trials, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2004.

The Oregon Trail, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2004.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2004.

Life on the Front Lines: The Fight for Civil Rights, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2004.

Lexington and Concord, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2004.

The Transcontinental Railroad, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2004.

The Scottsboro Case, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2004.

(With Sabrina Crewe) The Transcontinental Railroad, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 2004.

(With Sabrina Crewe) Lexington and Concord, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 2004.

Fort Sumter: The Civil War Begins, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2005.

A Civil War Doctor, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2005.

The Scopes "Monkey" Trial, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2005.

The Life of an American Soldier in Iraq, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2005.

The Holocaust, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2005.

(With Sabrina Crewe) The Scottsboro Case, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 2005.

(With Sabrina Crewe) The Scopes "Monkey" Trial, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 2005.

(With Sabrina Crewe) The Salem Witch Trials, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 2005.

(With Sabrina Crewe) The Oregon Trail, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 2005.

(With Sabrina Crewe) Fort Sumter: The Civil War Begins, Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 2005.

The Tuskegee Experiments: Forty Years of Medical Racism, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2006.

Suicide Bombings in Israel and Palestinian Terrorism, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2006.

A Mountain Man of the American Frontier, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2006.

Lynching and Murder in the Deep South, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2006.

The Beslan School Siege and Separatist Terrorism, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2006.

(With Elizabeth Hudson-Goff) The California Gold Rush, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2006.

(With Elizabeth Hudson-Goff) The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, illustrated by Guus Floor and others), World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2006.

Women of the Holocaust, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2006.

Irish Americans, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2007.

Hate Crimes, Lucent Books (Detroit, MI), 2007.

German Americans, World Almanac Library (Milwaukee, WI), 2007.

Che Guevara, Revolutionary, Lucent Books (Detroit, MI), 2007.

50 Cent, Lucent Books (Detroit, MI), 2007.

Tupac Shakur, Lucent Books (Detroit, MI), 2007.

Matt Dalio: China Care Founder, KidHaven Press (Farmington Hills, MI), 2007.

Reconstruction, Lucent Books (Detroit, MI), 2008.

Some of Uschan's writings have been published in Spanish.

SIDELIGHTS:

Author Michael V. Uschan writes mostly nonfiction books for younger readers, and has focused on subjects as varied as the history of the United States and baseball. His first book, A Multicultural Portrait of World War I, relates the story of U.S. involvement in World War I through the eyes of the country's ethnic minorities, including the changes that occurred after the armistice that brought the "Great War" to a close. In a review for School Library Journal, David A. Lindsey noted that this well-written work helps "fill large gaps in the story of our nation." Similarly, Uschan's volume A Cultural History of the United States: The 1910s is a helpful guide to readers seeking information on the "growth and development of America," noted a critic for Children's Book Review Service. As part of the same series, Uschan also wrote A Cultural History of the United States: The 1940s, this time focusing largely on the effects of World War II.

Uschan also contributed titles to the "Lucent Library of Black History Series" for high-school students. The Tuskegee Experiments: Forty Years of Medical Racism discusses a topic that many historians have found uncomfortable: the use of poor, black syphilis victims as unwitting laboratory subjects in a long-term study of the effectiveness of potential medical treatments. The scandal that erupted when news of the experiment was revealed in 1972 is also presented in a manner appropriate for young readers, though it does not shy away from visual images that show some of the life-threatening and fatal effects of the experiments on the untreated control group. Lynching and Murder in the Deep South offers a similarly balanced look at another historical subject that is not often presented to young readers in the classroom.

The author also writes of international events that have had a stunning impact on American readers. The Beslan School Siege and Separatist Terrorism, for upper elementary and middle grades, discusses several violent clashes of recent years, taking the reader from Chechnya in the Caucasus region of Russia, where most of the victims of the terrorist siege happened to be schoolchildren, to Africa, Europe, and even Canada, in an attempt to help young readers understand what prompts freedom-fighters to resort to terror and violence. Che Guevara, Revolutionary looks at one individual whose quest for freedom from capitalist exploitation led eventually to his execution in Bolivia (with the support of U.S. agents) and his resulting immortality.

Books on less controversial historical topics include surveys for the "Landmark Events in American History" series published by the World Almanac Library, which attempts to separate the myth from the history of major historical events. Uschan's contributions include surveys of events like the westward expansion of the U.S. frontier, the battle of the Little Bighorn, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the Korean conflict.

Uschan also writes biographies of significant people, including two books on the Kennedy family. In The Importance of John F. Kennedy, Uschan provides an overview of President Kennedy's life and his legacy, mining some "well-chosen primary source material" in the process, according to Phyllis Graves in School Library Journal. And in Male Olympic Champions, Uschan profiles seven athletes who achieved Olympic success, including track star Jesse Owens, skier Jean-Claude Killy, and swimmer Mark Spitz. Also included in the narrative is a brief history of the Olympic games, as well as a chronology, bibliography, and recommended reading list. Praised by critics for his focus on both the successes and challenges that these seven athletes faced, Randy Meyer, writing in Booklist, was particularly appreciative of Uschan's efforts to "look beyond the record books to the spirit, drama, and tragedy of the Olympic Games."

According to Uschan, "journalism is sometimes called ‘history in a hurry.’" He once commented, "for two decades as a reporter and editor for United Press International, I recorded the events unfolding before my eyes as fast as possible, whether it was yet another home run by the legendary Hank Aaron or the crash of a passenger airplane that took the lives of nearly forty people. In the helter-skelter world of wire service news there was a deadline every minute, and the overriding requirement of my job was to transmit stories I was working on to our newspaper and broadcast clients—and thus to he entire world—as fast as humanly possible.

"When I began writing books, however, I was able to slow down. This downshift in writing gears made it possible for me to consider not just the what of an important event but the why and how, whether it was why John F. Kennedy was a key figure in American history to how Hank Aaron became the most prolific homerun hitter of all time. At first, the transition from journalist to author was difficult. Once accustomed to having only minutes to gather facts, write a story, and disseminate it to the world, I now enjoyed the luxury of being able to labor for many weeks to research, write, and rewrite a manuscript. I would then have to wait several months before I could finally hold the finished product in my hand. The instant when I first open that book and gaze at what I have created—with the help, of course, of a host of talented editors, graphic artists, and printers—is the real reward for my efforts. The reason I write is that I love to read.

"When I was growing up, nothing filled me with more pleasure—nor does it now—than opening a book and becoming lost in the words it contained. I learned to love not only books but also their authors, who by writing them gave me so much pleasure. They became my heroes, and my great dream was to one day go to the library in my hometown of West Allis, walk up to the wooden chests of drawers that contained a card for every book in the library, and be able to riffle through them and find a card with my name printed on it.

"However, by the time I wrote my first book in 1996, the library I had haunted for so many hours while growing up had been closed. Gone as well were the tall card catalogs that had once towered over my head. They had been replaced by modern technology, computers that could search the library's entire database in a matter of seconds to find any book I wanted. When I typed in my name under AUTHOR, the title of my first book appeared almost instantly on the computer screen. It was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. On my next visit there was another great moment; I looked up my book again, just for the sheer joy of it, and discovered that it was OUT! Somebody was reading a book I had written! The circle was complete—the little boy who once read books was now an author whose work was providing a pleasurable reading experience for someone else."

Uschan later added: "I wrote ten titles for the World Almanac Library for a series called ‘Landmark Events in American History’ on historical events like the California Gold Rush. The books were for students in seventh to eighth grade, but an editor reduced the text and simplified the language for younger readers in a separate series titled ‘Events that Shaped America.’ I was listed as the coauthor. Several of those books were published in Spanish. Although I do not speak Spanish, it has made me very proud to have some of the books I have written published in a second language. The sole reason to write anything is to communicate with other people. Knowing that I am now communicating with readers in two languages is thrilling to me."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 2000, Randy Meyer, review of Male Olympic Champions, p. 901; October 15, 2003, Ed Sullivan, review of The Battle of the Little Bighorn, p. 422; January 1, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of The Scottsboro Case, p. 848; April 1, 2006, John Peters, review of The Beslan School Siege and Separatist Terrorism, p. 65; April 1, 2007, Ed Sullivan, review of Che Guevara, Revolutionary, p. 38.

Book Report, May-June, 2002, Anna Hartle, review of North Carolina, p. 67.

Children's Book Review Service, February, 1999, review of A Cultural History of the United States: The 1910s, p. 80.

Horn Book Guide, fall, 1996, Peter D. Sieruta, review of A Multicultural Portrait of World War I, p. 381.

School Library Journal, June, 1996, David A. Lindsey, review of A Multicultural Portrait of World War I, p. 166; January, 1999, Starr E. Smith, review of A Cultural History of the United States: The 1940s, pp. 156-157; April, 1999, Phyllis Graves, review of The Importance of John F. Kennedy, pp. 159-160; January, 2001, Dona J. Helmer, review of Westward Expansion, p. 142; July, 2001, Janice C. Hayes, review of Golf, p. 133; September, 2001, David M. Alperstein, review of The Korean War, p. 257; January, 2002, Carol Fazioli, review of The Kennedys, p. 169; February, 2003, Anne Chapman, review of The Battle of the Little Bighorn, p. 168; September, 2003, Elaine Fort Weischedel, review of The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, p. 238; April, 2006, Ann G. Brouse, review of The Tuskegee Experiments: Forty Years of Medical Racism, p. 162; October, 2006, review of The Tuskegee Experiments, p. S68; April, 2007, Carol Jones Collins, review of Lynching and Murder in the Deep South, p. 166.

Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 1999, Jamie S. Hansen, review of The Importance of John F. Kennedy, p. 208; May, 2000, Jeffrey A. French, review of Male Olympic Champions, p. 188; January, 2001, Dona H. Helmer, review of Westward Expansion, p. 142; July, 2001, Janice C. Hayes, review of Golf, p. 133.

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