ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Richard Zacks (1955-...) is a graduate of University of Michigan and Columbia Journalism School; he's the author of "History Laid Bare" and "An Underground Education", and has written articles for the Atlantic, Time, Village Voice, and many other publications. He also thinks he knows where Captain Kidd's last ship went down. During his research he found several eye-witness accounts that concur on the location and on the fact that there was no gold or silver aboard when it went down. No gold or silver. None.
After a decade as a journalist, Zacks wrote his first book, "History Laid Bare" (HarperCollins, 1994). Excerpted in Harpers and Details, reviewed in Newsweek and People, covered in the NY Times Sunday magazine, the book aimed to deliver all kinds of authentic primary source accounts about sex and love through the ages, from Mark Twain's jokes about penis size to Abe Lincoln's letter about being rejected by a very fat woman. The NY Times opined that the "book by Richard Zacks specializes in the raunchy and perverse."
In his second book, he applied the same technique of no-holds-barred, primary source reporting to diverse topics from medicine to science, from the arts to crime. He explored everything from Thomas Edison's secret role in developing the first electric chair to Abe Lincoln's tentative plan to ship out the freed American slaves to the Caribbean. The author honed his research skills on the project but he found it singularly exhausting to try to one up the experts in all major fields of knowledge; he is thrilled to retire from his role as pundit know-it-all.
RESEARCHING THIS BOOK IN MADAGASCAR
The author lounging on a pirate's fallen gravestone on Ile Ste. Marie in Madagascar. The Pirate Cemetery overlooks Ile aux Forbans ("Rogue's Island") where Captain Kidd's men careened their ship. If you look carefully at the headstone, you can see the skull & crossbones carved there. The inscription states: "Joseph Pierre Le Chartier ne a Ducy le 10 Avril 1788 arrive sur la flute La Normandie le 1 Novembre 1824 mort a Ste Marie le 14 Mars 1834/Par son ami Hulin/Passagers, priez per lui".
[The author respected Hulin's wish and prayed for the pirate's happiness.]