My Writing

Most of us have an urge to broadcast…to “call ourselves into existence against the obliterating silence” that Michael Harris verbalizes in his provocative book, The End of Absence.  I don’t tweet or InstaGram, I rarely do Facebook, and I don’t own a smartphone (for reasons best left unsaid).  But I like to write, and share my ideas.  Longitudes on WordPress is a social medium that lets me do this.  Writing is a responsibility, and I take it seriously.

In addition to my blogging on longitudes, I’ve “broadcast” myself in two books.  In September 2018, I completed a hiking memoir called Evergreen Dreaming: Trail Tales of an Aging Hiker, published by my own Longitudes Press.



Here’s a book overview, taken from the back cover of Evergreen Dreaming:

A 55-year-old man with a yen for the outdoors feels time running out. One day he decides to dig out his old backpack from the basement and hike a section of the Appalachian Trail. He doesn’t know that this weeklong hike through Georgia and North Carolina will propel him into other mountain adventures, culminating in a mystical trip to the Continental Divide to follow the footsteps of a childhood friend.

In this thoughtful, well-written memoir, Peter Kurtz leads the reader along dirt paths across multiple mountains, meeting eccentric characters, battling blisters and boulders, and sharing one campsite with a disgruntled bear. Along the way, he candidly shares his thoughts on age, environment, culture, and technology. His walking stick, which he names “Kip,” becomes a companion and talisman, helping to trigger potent memories that eventually result in a hike into the “red-orange glow of the West” to get closer to the real Kip.

Evergreen Dreaming is a story about memory, aging, and the pursuit of natural in an increasingly artificial society. It is also a powerful tale of friendship and love.

Back in January 2013, I published a nonfiction history book about a 19th-century sailing ship.  The title is Bluejackets in the Blubber Room: A Biography of the “William Badger,” 1828-1865, published by University of Alabama Press. 

Below, I have details about my “blubber book.”



From University of Alabama Press:

“Bluejackets in the Blubber Room” explores key events in U.S. maritime history from the 1820s to the end of the Civil War through the biography of the sailing ship WILLIAM BADGER.

The author begins by exploring early American shipbuilding and shipbuilders in the Piscataqua region of Maine and New Hampshire and the kinds of raw materials harvested and used in making the wooden sailing ships of the time. After its construction, the BADGER became part of the key economic trade between New England, the southern U.S., and Europe. She carried raw materials such as timber from New England to New Orleans and subsequently cotton from New Orleans to Spain and Liverpool, England.

Following service as a merchant ship, the BADGER became a whaling ship, carrying its New England-based crew as far as the South Pacific. Using logbooks and sailor journals, the author presents a colorful story of life aboard a whaling ship and in the whaling towns ranging from Lynn, Massachusetts, to Cape Leeuwin, Australia. The third career in the BADGER’s life was service as a supply ship in the Union Navy’s blockade effort. Although not the most dramatic duty a sailor could have, blockade supply nevertheless was critical to the United States’ prosecution of the Civil War and eventual victory. This book delves into the decision-making involved in procuring such ships and their crew, notably escaped slaves known as “contrabands.”


“An interesting, well-researched and well-written book. It is surprising how much original material about the vessel the author was able to uncover…highly recommended.” – Joseph A. Derie, “Civil War News: The Monthly Current Events Newspaper”

“Fascinating story” – David Madden, “Civil War Talk (Forum)”

“Excellent use of primary source materials…Bluejackets in the Blubber Room is a fascinating look at the life of a small ship which reinvented herself as the United States did the same.” – Ryan P. Semmes,  H-War on H-Net, “Humanities and Social Sciences Online”

“The book is a dual and diverse history that will be of interest to Civil War historians and those interested in whaling.” – Robert M. Browning, Jr., Chief Historian of the United States Coast Guard and author of From Cape Charles to Cape Fear: The North Atlantic Blockading Squadron during the Civil War

“Kurtz has skillfully placed the story of this vessel in a much broader context, both as a whaler and later as a store ship during the Civil War.” – William N. Still, author of Confederate Shipbuilding

Additional non-Amazon order links:

And a link to an article describing why I wrote the book, the research/writing, and the publication process:


Additionally, I’ve published articles with magazines like Film International, History Magazine, and assorted music publications.

I hope you’ll check out either of my books.  If not, that’s OK, I’m glad you’re visiting longitudes, and please return as often as you’d like.  Also, feel free to “like,” follow, or comment…I like being liked, but I also like being kept responsible!

21 thoughts on “My Writing

  1. Hi Peter, I am a huge history fan; especially whaling and the Civil War so your book is ‘the perfect storm.’ The Badger seems to be just like Herman Melville who started out on a merchant, then a whaler and finally a naval frigate!

  2. Hi Scott, thanks for your comment! How did you hear about the book? Sounds like we have much in common, as I’m obsessed with Melville too – his books and his life. I mention “Redburn,” “White Jacket,” and of course “MD” in my modest nonfiction attempt. I’m a field mouse compared to the mighty Melville, but I hope you enjoy the book anyway!

  3. Peter, hi
    A note to say that I have just bought your book Bluejackets etc, and loved it! I am a retired journalist in Sydney who grew up in Busselton (on Geographe Bay) and am three quarters the way through what I hope will be a book on US whalers operating off the WA coast between say 1830 and 1870.
    Your book and its references on the Majestic gives me another insight to develop. I shall be chasing a copy of the Bonney journal and logbook from Mystic, in the hope that I can work some of it into my stuff, without looking too close to yours!
    Again, congratulations!
    Tim Blue

  4. Tim, thanks so much for your kind words. I’m really glad you liked the “blubber book.” It’s nice to hear from someone from the great continent of Australia! I wish you all the best on your own book, and I look forward to reading it. You’ll enjoy the library at Mystic Seaport… it’s very “homey,” and the staff is both friendly and knowledgable.


  5. Peter, I enjoyed reading your article on the Jacob Stamler ship in the Gotham History. My 3rd great grandfather was Jacob Stamler, so I guess we are related! I would like to connect and share some notes on our family history.
    Regards, Craig Hamilton

    • Wow, thanks for connecting, Craig! Would love to share notes. I have you in my ancestry database, courtesy of our cousin Annette Jones, whom I think you might know. I just sent a Facebook friend request (hopefully to the right Craig Hamilton!). Thanks again!

  6. OK, I made it through your takes. Enjoyed them. Lots of reminders, food for thought, leads and just some good reading. I seen your book when i first checked out your site. I will be picking it up for a few reasons, one being I like the topic. Another, I like to support people that are doing it for the love. I’m in a similar boat. Your last post on the pipeline hit on the subject I’m working on. Pete if your interested I will contact you via email and share a couple things that I’ve done. You might find it interesting. In the meantime I guess i’m going on a sea cruise with William Badger. CB

    • I’ve enjoyed our “conversations,” CB. I hope you like the book. A little dry in places – especially for a book about the sea (sorry about the pun) – but maybe you’ll be entertained a little.

      Yes, the Dakota Access pipeline. First Keystone, now this. The battle never ends. But the bastards don’t always win, so maybe we’ll prevail again. Thanks much!

    • Thanks, Phil. I checked it out. Lots of good ideas about marketing, despite the unsavoriness of Regnery’s editorial focus, and the fact that its authors are in a different (blitzkrieg) league. Right now I’m honing in on some book review sites, and maybe a couple book fairs. Will let you know what transpires. Thanks again.

  7. Hi Peter: I just wrote a review on Bluejackets. A great read! Here it is, as submitted on Amazon. “Peter Kurtz’ work on the story of the William Badger is engaging and enjoyably readable. Motivated by a quest to learn about his ancestor who once worked on the ship, the author combed through 120 source documents to tell the story of a proud ship, its builder and owners, and most important, its several crews. He has researched the ship from its first day to its last, from its whaling days to its end in the civil war. The wonder of this telling is Kurtz’s ability to create a compelling narrative that moves the reader on, page after page. If you are a nautical historian, a writer, or a lover of good books, get this one, for sure! “

    • Hi Phil. I’m honored by the laudatory review. You’ve got a way with words, and not necessarily because it’s a positive critique. Glad you enjoyed reading this product of my blood and sweat (fortunately, no tears). If you ever get to Cincinnati, I’d love to buy you a grog.

      • I’ll plan on it, thanks! The research on this book is quite impressive. You made 454 annotations throughout the story, but the frequent sprinkling of numerals did not distract me, the reader. They did however give credibility to the whole work. In all, Chernow-level effort!

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