H.W. Crocker III is the author of Armstrong Rides Again! – the second book in a fiction series, that is part-historical as well as part-hysterical, according to reviewers. The series is based on the premise of what could happen if General George Custer survived the battle of Little Bighorn and had to live life on the lam in the wild, wild west post-Civil War.
As one Amazon reviewer wrote, “H.W. Crocker has done it again! Three years after the triumphant debut of “Armstrong: (The Custer of the West)”, our man Custer and his motley crew have survived and thrived in the old West in Flashman-like style. In ‘Armstrong Rides Again’ our hero meets up with the legendary Ambrose Bierce on a wild Latin island hilariously named Neustraguano for a fun romp. This is a story that makes one laugh out loud, and after the past year we’ve had, who doesn’t need a laugh? ‘Armstrong Rides Again!’ is the book we need this summer.”
The satirical Armstrong Rides Again! is available for purchase here.
H.W. Crocker is also the senior editor at Regnery Publishing. I chatted with him on the phone to discuss his latest book as well some questions about the conservative publishing world.
TF: What was your inspiration to write Armstrong Rides Again? Is it because “Cowboys and Indians” might be the most beloved of politically incorrect traditions?
HC: Yes, it’s a fact! I’m from the Wild West, originally. I wonder with people in Congress, “Did you grow up in the same country as I did?” Veterans of the same war respect each other, the “Noble Greeks,” the “Noble Romans” . . . they’re gone with the wind! It’s horrifying.
It’s the second in a series of comic novels, but there’s a seriousness underlying them. They capture history, so it doesn’t go down the memory hole.
TF: It seems like kids won’t be learning all the old stories and songs anymore.
HC: My own kids are educated about them. But it seems (the public) they’re spitting on our ancestors, knocking down statues. The books are meant to be a restoration of American memory, remind them of traditions.
TF: Have you been to the places you write about?
HC: I’m a 5th generation native Southern Californian, Reagan Country! California is “Paradise Lost”.
TF: Certainly, that’s not new. I saw that happening with Patti Davis.
HC: Not new, but it’s accelerated now. The whole COVID-19 lockdown made leaders think that we no longer have unalienable rights!
TF: Speaking of going to places, have you been to the site of your logo, the Porta Nigra in Trier, Germany? I have. It’s white asparagus with Hollandaise sauce season there now.
HC: Yes, a long time ago. It’s beautiful.
TF: I don’t want to ruin your day, but right as you walk through the Porta Nigra is the birthplace of Marx. Did you know that?
HC: Yes! That is an unfortunate coincidence.
TF: Did you like F Troop and the Tumbleweeds cartoon growing up?
HC: Yes, absolutely! I like all traditional Westerns, like "The Rifleman."
TF: You’re one of the captains of the ship that is Regnery Publishing and rightfully set your own policies. What I don’t get – in these tough economic times – is how these other publishers let their junior staffers extort them into dropping authors. I think I’d be like President Reagan with the air traffic controllers, have security escort them out the door. What’s going on?
HC: Two things. Media is biased, but the book publishing industry is even more left wing! It’s all concentrated in New York City. They all draw on liberal arts graduates. The book business is very tight margin of profit: 85% of books lose money.
TF: Could the publishers be dropping authors as a loss leader?
HC: Could be. It’s fear or they agree with them. They think, “Who needs these conservatives?”
TF: Could it be a public relations stunt?
HC: In a way, it’s peer pressure. It’s a weird, invented morality. In the 1950’s, nobody wanted to rock the boat, the “Father Knows Best” era. Now, it’s about being more woke. William F. Buckley said, “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”
TF: Your publishing company upholds certain values, such as traditional American culture, conservatism, free speech, that used to be values cherished by all sides of the political spectrum. Yet, you must be profitable to have your voice be heard. I see you have some provocative titles, covers to get attention. Where do you draw the line, so as to not go the way of Regan Books [publisher of O.J. Simpson’s If I Did It that’s no longer in business]?
HC: Right. That’s a good question. We’re traditional minded folks. We don’t try to shock. We don’t try to be “tabloid”. We’re well researched, factual, easy to read. A balance.
TF: My dad used to supply the furniture for ABA/Book Expo and now it’s no more. Supposedly, there will be a “US Books Show”. Having attended several Book Expos, I loved seeing all the new ideas and titles coming out, the trends and the lovely European coffee table books. Does the end of Expo hammer the final nail in the coffin for unique, indie bookstores?
HC: The Book Expo was going the way of the Dodo. It was very expensive to attend. Big companies have gone under. With independent bookstores, it’s a very hard thing.
TF: Your publishing house brought to the world the likes of Russell Kirk and William F. Buckley, Jr. How do you spot potential superstars?
HC: That’s part of our whole game! Our goal is to launch careers, keep them – like David Limbaugh. We look for a provocative thinker, good reporter. There’s so much free media out there! To sell $20 book and ask for a week of someone’s time is a hard thing to do.
TF: There have been almost entirely successful efforts to cancel two of your book subjects: General Custer and General Robert E. Lee. It’s come to the point that if one even mentions studying them, the vocal Left deems one to be a horrible person and a racist. Do you differentiate between studying and monuments, tributes? Or is it all a war regarding political correctness?
HC: Custer was always controversial. Lee, amongst historians, had a very small minority of detractors. He was regarded highly in the North and the South. Eisenhower kept his portrait in the White House! Donald Trump said something that was very sophisticated: “What is the point of destroying these artistic monuments?” Why are people destroying the art in their own cities? Once you give the Marxist leeway, it will never stop!
TF: What makes a great political speech writer? Did you feel compelled to add gravitas, to quote Roman philosophers and such? What about humor? Lincoln tortured himself writing the Gettysburg Address, in order to “set apart these grounds to their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks.”
HC: Pete Williams had a natural gravitas. He had a dry wit; he was funny in a Johnny Carson kind of way. You warm the audience up with a joke. For me, the re-election campaign was more fun to work in than the office.
TF: You live on former Confederate battleground. Have you found interesting treasures? Do you feel extra pressure to do fine gardening?
HC: Yes, when our house was being built, they found some bullets, I heard. Sometimes, walking around the house at night, I wonder if there’s a Confederate ghost looking at me!
Tamar Alexia Fleishman was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's youngest female solo violinist. A world-traveler, Fleishman provides readers with international flavor and culture. She's debated Bill Maher, Greta Van Susteren and Dr. Phil. Fleishman practices law in Maryland with a J.D. from the University of Baltimore, a B.A. in Political Science from Goucher College. Read Tamar Alexia Fleishman's Reports — More Here.
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