Season 1, Episode 12
Our guest on this episode of the Life in the Carolinas podcast is Chris Hartley, a Wilkes county native and author of 4 historical books. As an adolescent, Chris’ parents took him to American historical sites and encouraged his love for history and reading through books. In high school, his teachers often told him that he was a talented writer, so he began his journey towards being a published author then.
Chris’ first book came about out of curiosity. He wondered if there was a bigger story behind the historical marker in front of the North Wilkesboro hospital, and it turns out that General James B. Gordon had quite a story indeed. Since this was before the days of the Internet, he had to do countless hours of manual research in local and state archives and conduct interviews with descendants of Gen. Gordon to bring the story to life. Several years later, he revised and republished another edition of this book under the same name: “Stuart’s Tarheels”.
His third book is entitled “Stoneman’s Raid” and follows another Confederate officer through his experiences during the Civil War. Next, he began working on his latest book, “The Lost Soldier” about his wife’s grandfather’s time in the European Theater during World War II. While this is the story of a specific soldier, it could be broadly applicable to many soldiers of the time and has had wide-reaching impacts on the families who lost soldiers during the war. He was inspired to write the story of Pete Lynn after his wife’s grandmother showed him the bundles of returned letters that she had written to her husband that were never delivered to him before his tragic death. Through the process of writing this book, Chris came to understand the power of love and the impact that a sacrifice for freedom has on the loved ones back home, torn between sorrow for their loss and gratefulness for the cause for which they died.
Chris has been recognized by the North Carolina Society of Historians for his historical storytelling through his books. He works full-time in marketing for the Blue Rhino propane company and spends all of his free nights and weekends speaking about his books and researching for his next one.
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