Paul Finkelman (PhD, University of Chicago) is the President William McKinley Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy and Senior Fellow in the Government Law Center at Albany Law School. His many books include Landmark Decisions of the United States Supreme Court (2008) and A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States (2002), which he coauthored; The Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties (2006) and The Encyclopedia of the New American Nation (2006), which he edited; and Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson (2001). For the Bedford Series in History and Culture he edited Dred Scott v. Sandford: A Brief History with Documents (1997) and Defending Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Old South: A Brief History with Documents (2003). Finkelman has also published numerous scholarly articles on American legal history and civil rights, and he lectures frequently on these subjects.
Where are you from?
Who are your favorite writers?
Jodi Picoult, Carol Goodman, Madeline L'Engle, Alice Hoffman, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Rosamunde Pilcher, Maeve Binchy, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Laura Esquivel, Tracy Chevalier, Steve Berry, Megan Chance.
Which book/books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
What are your hobbies and outside interests?
I like to row and kayak on Lake Superior. We also enjoy spending time at our cabin on a lake on the Gunflint Trail in what is known as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness between Minnesota and Canada. My friends joke that my two major vices are expensive wine and hardcover books, and I love nothing better than a morning of kayaking or rowing followed by an afternoon sitting on the deck of my cabin overlooking our lake, reading a great book with a wonderful glass of wine. We have a 130-pound Alaskan Malamute, and I enjoy walking with her in our neighborhood or around Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, where we have a home.
What is the single best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
To remember that I have sisu. Sisu is a Finnish word meaning inner strength, fortitude, the ability to survive anything and do anything I put my mind to.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Reading Madeline L'Engle's book, A Wrinkle in Time, when I was 13 years old made me realize I wanted to write books for a living.
Where do you write?
Mostly in my home office, but I also like to take my laptop to a local coffee shop overlooking Lake Superior. And I can get a lot of great writing done at our cabin.
Paul Finkelman; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors
Henry Holt and Co.
The oddly named president whose shortsightedness and stubbornness fractured the nation and sowed the seeds of civil war
In the summer of 1850, America was at a terrible...