Matthew J. Davenport was just a boy when family friend and war veteran Dick Dacus would tell him stories about the 1918 Battle of Cantigny in France. Years later, a frustrating search to learn more about the battle led Davenport to tackle the untold story.
“First Over There” (St. Martin’s Press) is a boots-on-the-ground account of the first American soldiers to fight in World War I.
“I realized it was America’s first fight and victory against the German army, an inaugural clash between two world powers that would see many bloodier fights through two world wars,” Davenport said. “A little research led to more, and before long I was knee-deep in archival documents, learning that the story of the battle was more fascinating than even its historic import might suggest.”
Three soldiers in his book have deep North Carolina connections, including a young Sam Ervin, who fought and was wounded by a German machine-gunner as he led a dozen men across the shell-scarred French dirt of no-man’s land.
“I am not a historian and have no experience as a writer,” said Davenport, a criminal defense attorney in Greenville. “But I believed in the story and its historical significance and human interest.”
▪ In his book “Livesafe” (Outskirts Press), Triangle author and security expert Terry Beckstrom challenges readers to make simple adjustments to their lifestyles to enhance their safety and security. The book offers practical advice on how to be more aware of surroundings, how to identify potential criminal threats and how to avoid becoming a victim.
▪ “What is a Madrasa?” (UNC Press), by Ebrahim Moosa, explores the most common type of school for religious instruction in the Islamic world. Moosa explains how a madrasa can be revered by many and feared by others in a post-9/11 world. Moosa, a specialist in Islamic law and ethics, lives in Durham.
▪ “Behind the Drive” (Ten22 Publishing), by Brandon Sneed, is the story of the founder of Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes and Fries. Kenney Moore, a North Carolina native, built one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains after nearly losing everything. Hwy 55 is headquartered in Mount Olive.
Elizabeth Spencer of Chapel Hill has received the Fiction Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters for “Starting Over” (Liveright), a collection of nine stories. Spencer, a Mississippi native, will be honored at a banquet June 6.
▪ Best-selling author Jeffery Deaver will be at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh at 7 p.m. May 20 to launch the latest in his Kathryn Dance series, “Solitude Creek” (Grand Central Publishing). Deaver lives in Chapel Hill.
▪ Triangle author Diane Chamberlain will talk about her novel “The Silent Sister” (St. Martin’s Press) at 7 p.m. May 21 at the Wake Forest Renaissance Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Triangle-area authors: We want to hear about your new book. Send information to firstname.lastname@example.org. As space permits, we will mention self-published books by local authors that are for sale on commercial sites.