Lawyer and high-school history teacher Christopher Gorham’s book stemmed from a research assignment he gave to his students. After they found hand-written letters from a multitude of important American historical figures, Gorham knew he needed to know more.
He will be discussing his new book on Sept. 20 at Schuler Books, 2513 Jackson Ave, Ann Arbor.
Gorham has tasked some of his students with researching Anna Rosenberg, secretary of defense during the Korean War serving under Presidents Harry Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt. They were unable to find any books telling her story, so Gorham took it upon himself to write one himself.
He will be visiting Ann Arbor to talk about his book, “The Confidante” focusing on Rosenberg’s impact on American history.
“It’s been gratifying on a number of levels to have people, both men and women of all ages, interested in learning more about this woman that they’d never really heard about,” Gorham said.
According to Gorham, Rosenberg solved major labor disputes in the United States during World War II and developed a model to streamline labor to build ships, tanks, and planes.
“My favorite part is just watching the look on these people’s faces as they learn about this remarkable woman from American history,” Gorham said. “She can inspire Americans today just as she was inspired when she arrived on our shores.”
Rosenberg was extremely well known during her time in office, serving in one of the highest positions in the U.S. Government. But even though she had access to several figures and was encouraged by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to tell her story through a biography, but Gorham hypothesizes that she didn’t want to be seen as “cashing in” on her access to the President.
“I hope that they not only learn what Anna Rosenberg accomplished from the FDR administration, the Roosevelt presidency through to the 1960s but also what made her a famous figure in American politics,” Gorham said. “But also, why she disappeared from history, why she wasn’t embedded in our narrative for modern American history because I think that’s part of the lesson too.”
It was through research and the help of librarians from all around the country that Gorham was able to put together a cohesive book, showing her involvement but also her character.
“It was clear that she’d been at the heart of several major events from the New Deal all the way through the Korean War,” Gorham said. “The difficulty was to piece them together in a way that was going to be a readable narrative. […] In later drafts, her spirit, her devotion to her country, her selflessness and her humor came out.”
Gorham has the opportunity to meet and talk about Rosenberg with her grandson numerous times while writing the book, giving Gorham another side to Rosenberg that he might not have been able to access otherwise.
“[It was a] very uncommon thing at that time to have a civilian woman at a top post at the Pentagon but she didn’t really share war stories with him,” Gorham said. “It was more just like lovingness and the attention that she would give him as a high school and college student.”
As a first-time author, Gorham didn’t exactly know what comes after the book publishing process in regard to doing events and meeting people on tour. Gorham has traveled to talk about his book with people for a few months now.
“When you’re writing the book, it’s just all-consuming,” Gorham said. “You dream about it, it’s the first thing you think of when you wake up and the last thing you think of when you go to bed. And then it gets published and […] what I didn’t realize is that there’s a whole second act.”
Gorham is currently working on another book deal, focusing on a well-known person during World War II. Watch the trailer for “The Confidante” here.