A professor at Brandeis University, David Hackett Fischer is the author of several noted books on history, including Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement, The Great Wave: Price Movements in Modern History, Paul Revere's Ride, and Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. He is co-editor, with James M. McPherson, of the Pivotal Moments in American History series published by Oxford University Press. A graduate of Princeton and Johns Hopkins Universities, he divides his time between homes in Massachusetts and Maine.
Author biography courtesy of Oxford University Press.
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In the fall of 2004, David Hackett Fischer took some time out to answer some of our questions.
What was the book that most influenced your life or your career as a writer -- and why?
It's hard to identify a single book that influences my life and career. I like to read very broadly in ancient and modern history, philosophy, economics, law, and literature.
What are some of your favorite books?
Two of my most recent favorites are The Great Meadow: Farmers and the Land in Colonial Concord, by Brian Donahue, and How Early America Sounded, by Richard Rath.
What are some of your favorite films, and what makes them unforgettable to you?
I am working now on a book about New Zealand, so with that in mind, I have been watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as Heavenly Creatures. I think Peter Jackson is a really interesting director. He made great use of the natural beauties (and challenges) of the landscape in New Zealand, which added immeasurably to his films. I admire his ambition and fearlessness in pursuing his vision.
What types of music do you like? Is there any particular kind you like to listen to when you're writing?
I listen to mostly classical music, with an emphasis on Bach and Handel.
What are your favorite kinds of books to give -- and get -- as gifts?
I love to give and receive books about food. I love to give cookbooks by Nigel Slater. His recipes are mostly easy to follow, without a lot of obscure ingredients, and his voice is very conversational and confessional. Some food writers take themselves entirely too seriously, but that is not a charge I would lob at Mr. Slater.
Do you have any special writing rituals? For example, what do you have on your desk when you're writing?
I try to write every day, early in the morning. I don't think that counts as a ritual, it certainly is a schedule that I like to keep.
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