A wise man once said:
While politics is the art of the possible, history is the art of the impossible. I have never hesitated in attempting the impossible. What is historically relevant may not be politically prudent. One has to make one's choices.
I love that quote. V. P. Singh was the eighth Prime Minister of India (1989-1990) and the forty-first nominal Raja Bahadur of the northern kingdom of Manda. He was one of India's elite. As such, he knew what he was talking about when he said that "history is the art of the impossible." He hit the ball out the park when he said that relevant "history may not be politically prudent." He was, however, a politician. I'm not - no longer even the armchair kind. Still, history and politics are inseparable. History is an interesting area of study. Politics on its own, not so much. I did not solve the impossible, I think I merely got closer to solving it than most.(1) I'm not a romanticist and I'm not beholden to anyone for my work. My books are written for readers who think for themselves.
History. I thrive on it, to dig into it, to try and understand why things are the way they are. I always have. I have my parents and educators to thank. I'm also a private person and I prefer it this way. It's an upbringing thing, I suppose. I mind my own business and choose to be around people who mind theirs. Climbing the social or corporate ladder never interested me, and never will. I choose to make my own future, success, or failure on my own terms. I would not say that I'm introverted, however. I always enjoyed writing, and so, I chose to write something which is meaningful to me. One might say that it was a therapeutic goal.
Both my parents are now deceased. I miss them more that I can express in words. I always will, but, "that's life," as they say. I have a younger brother who is the only immediate family member living outside the country of our birth, and in the same city as me - Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I am married to my very best friend whom I love dearly. We have been married for more than three decades. We have two children who are both adults now and have embarked on their own life journey.
My dream career as a boy was to become an archeologist - an Egyptologist like Howard Carter. I devoured all his books as well as any books on ancient Egypt I could lay my hands on at the library. I think that's where I caught the history bug - that - my family ancestry, and my past experiences as an refugee-immigrant son. Like any immigrant's son, I ended up asking myself "why" more times than I care to remember. My question was exacerbated by the fact that none of us could ever return to our homeland - Communist Czechoslovakia - without being arrested. In the west, my parents worked hard. They hoped to make something of me and my bother which is why they poured a small fortune into mine and my brother's private schooling. My parents hoped that I'd become a physician. It did not happen. It was not for me. I wanted to dig up the past, not somebody's ulcers. I think my parents were somewhat disappointed, but not overly so. In the end I became neither.
I chose a career in Information Technology, started off as a software engineer, eventually becoming a management consultant. Ultimately, I landed a position as a director with a federally funded not-for-profit organisation in, ironically, health care. Our corporate mission was to implement Electronic Health Records in Canada. I was responsible for implementing technical architecture and overseeing investment deliverables in seven jurisdictions: Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. My passion for strategy and achieving results that matter served me well, I'd say. Maybe it was my quirky secret - I derive pleasure teaching people new skills based on my own experiences. There's nothing more rewarding than seeing someone achieve greater things than they could on their own. It was a worthy mission and one which I'm very proud of. The mission was also a partnership with territorial and provincial jurisdictions. Together, our efforts are positively impacting the lives of many Canadians and even people around the world in terms of how modern health care is practiced and medical information is shared, although much more still needs to be done. I don't think there will ever be a finer, skilled, wiser, passionate group of individuals assembled anywhere in one organisation. It was a privilege to be part of the team for eleven years, and to have worked with so many talented individuals on the jurisdiction side. I learned a lot from all of them in the process. Alas, all good things come to an end, and so, I turned my attention full-time to finish a personal project - the Chrysalis Books.
The Chrysalis series are like no other. I would not call them remarkable because the information within their pages may not necessarily be new to those who know real history. But my books are about the origin of hatred and liberty when there was plenty of the former and practically none of the latter except in a place which few know even existed - Ungaria. My books lead up to the history the sixteenth-seventeenth centuries Countess Elizabeth Bathory. She's one the main subject of my books. She is extremely important to history, yet, few even know who she is. Why, the self-thinking reader probably does not know. Not many do. What is very different is that the books contain historical information most historians are still not prepared to write, or even acknowledge that this history even happened. It's because they are beholden to others who make out grants for their research and scholarly work. They write what they can afford to write. I don't have to.
I must confess that I was very close to my mother. She left me forever in May 2017, one day after her seventy-eighth birthday, but not by her choice. The pages of the Chrysalis books have been drastically revised since my mother's passing. If anything in these books offends politically correct sensibilities, wherever they may exist, so be it. I could not diffuse the words any more than I have done. I'm not responsible for the actions of others in the past, merely writing about them, and the world is the way it is, because of them. I've done the best to tone it down so as not to offend. The world is, after all, suddenly intoxicated with political correctness. Today, my manuscripts mean so much more to me. I have learned enough of history by writing these books to know that Elizabeth Bathory was an extraordinary woman. I have also learned a great deal about Humanity and Humility.
If writing historical imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then these books are not it, for in the in the immortal words of Oscar Wilde, such "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness." Rather, the Chrysalis books are the "the grateful tribute of truth"(2). For better or for worse, truthful real history, like real life, is not a fairy tale. There is no guarantee of everyone living happily ever after in these books but hopefully there is a lesson in their pages.
I wrote Chrysalis for myself, but primarily to honour my parent's memory, for my family, friends, and of course, for Elizabeth and wisdom's triumph. My father wrote about Elizabeth in his youth. He paid a high price for his work. Communist regime reactions to it broke his spirit after he was sentenced to "political re-education" in a labour camp in the late 1950s. Now, all these years later it's my turn. I think I managed to resurrect something my father wrote all those years ago. This project drove me to the brink of spiritual and physical exhaustion. There were several times when I thought I finally met my match. I never thought it possible that I would not finish what I started. I plowed on. During the process, I came to realise that I was a product of romanticised history. I realised until I was well into the project that I did not know real history at all. Like a particular science fiction character, writing Chrysalis enabled me to awaken from my conveniently engineered world of historical illusions. For better or for worse, I'm therefore that much more at peace with my soul. It was an excruciatingly difficult undertaking but an important personal goal. Now that I mostly have completed it, I know why my father's books were banned and a certain amount of ancestral weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I'm proud that I was able to finish Chrysalis I and Chrysalis II. I'm sure my parents - and Elizabeth - smile down upon us all.
Now there are more books to finish - Chrysalis III, perhaps even a Chrysalis IV, maybe more - the original project about Elizabeth herself. It's simply impossible to tell her story without the historical context of the first two books!
And there it is, some information about me and the reason I wrote the Chrysalis books. I hope you find some wisdom in the books' pages.
My best wishes
- Convincing the reader why something is the way it is, is always at the core of any history book. Most historians are beholden to someone for the work they produce. It is why there are two kinds of histories. There's one version of history for public consumption, that is, for the masses - the sort of history we are all taught in school. Then there's the other version which is its antithesis. If one is to write a book to profit by, make a name for one's self, then the way to do it is to pen a "best seller" a romanticised history book. Such history challenges nothing. It's easily consumable and reinforces what people already know and tells them what they want to know. It's familiar, embracing, and supports the many narratives which accompany the many monuments erected to celebrate dead heroes and past events. The best part is, ninety-nine per cent of your readers will agree with you, which is why ninety-nine per cent of all history books fall into this category. Unfortunately, there are not many lessons in it, none which really matter as far as improving society is concerned. A telltale sign that this is what you are reading is that it's very thin on Humanity and Humility. Insofar as "truth" is concerned, dates, names, places, and events are as close as one gets because this history is always written from the victor's perspective - usually the historian's benefactor's perspective. This sort of history is not benign within a particular cultural context. It always has an insidious purpose. In other words, this history is like a child explaining how the candy probably disappeared from the candy jar. Then there's also "real history." This is history which has no purpose other than to present events which matter in the grand scheme of things. It's stark, naked, unfiltered. It contains no heroism or romanticism. It takes no sides, but it does inform the reader, to the best of the author's ability, why, really, things might be the way they are. Such histories fall into the one percentile category of all history books. They will never be incorporated in any public school curriculum which is unfortunate. These works are meant for people who already think for themselves. Therefore, they were, and still are, and most likely always will be, heretical books. They make most people uncomfortable. They are unfamiliar histories. The challenge belief values. In medieval times, and even in many parts of the world even today, these sort of books have cost their authors, be they traditional historians or investigative journalists, their liberty or their lives. Invariably, any historical work involves politics. There's no way around it. What V. P. Singh meant was that political ideals fail because politicians possess selective historical amnesia - assuming they even know history - and are, therefore, doomed to repeat the same mistakes of the past. They may be victorious in the near-term, but ultimately, they will always lose. Sometimes, there are tragic consequences. Unfortunately, most politicians, like most people, are graduates of romanticised history. They have to be, otherwise the world would not be in the state it's in. This, is the reason why history repeats itself! When all goes well, however, it means that there's a great leader somewhere who knows real history. It seems we have not had one anywhere for quite some time.
- This is a quote by James Middleton Cox, *March 31, 1870 - †July 15, 1957, who was the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, along with Franklin D. Roosevelt for Vice President during the U.S. presidential election of 1920. Apparently he called his Republican opponent, Warren G. Harding a liar for something he said about Woodrow Wilson and also added, "I suppose it is too much to ask that mediocrity pay to greatness the grateful tribute of truth." Grant, James. The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself. 2015. Simon and Schuster. p. 132