While becoming a writer, Bruce Watson worked as a factory hand, a journalist, a bartender, an office temp, a Peace Corps volunteer, and an elementary school teacher. Somehow along the way, he maintained his interest in everything.
As a frequent contributor to Smithsonian, Watson wrote about eels, the history of Coney Island, Ferraris, Jack London, men’s hats, and the vagaries of pi (π). He has also written for The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, American Heritage, Newsweek, Yankee, Sky and Telescope, Nautilus, and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2003.
Watson’s 2010 book Freedom Summer tells the remarkable story of the 1964 civil rights drive in Mississippi. The New York Times called Freedom Summer “Taut and involving. . . . the literary equivalent of a hot light bulb dangling from a low ceiling.”
Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, The Murders, and The Judgment of Mankind (2007) shed new light on the cause célèbre that tore America apart in the 1920s. Sacco and Vanzetti was favorably reviewed in publications ranging from the New York Times (“spirited history”) to the New Yorker (“unusually even-handed”) to The Nation (“The most thorough and readable plumbing yet of the case record.”) The Mystery Writers of America nominated Sacco and Vanzetti for its Edgar Award in the category of True Fact/Crime.
Watson’s 2005 book Bread and Roses – Mills, Migrants, and the Struggle for the American Dream, was the first full-length narrative of the notorious “Bread and Roses” textile strike of 1912. The New York Times called Bread and Roses “fast paced, well researched. . . an exciting read.” The New York Public Library chose Bread and Roses as one of “25 Books to Remember for 2005.”
Currently, Watson is writing and editing The Attic, a weekly magazine celebrating American history and culture. The Attic — For a Kinder, Cooler America
Watson holds a Master’s Degree in American history from the University of Massachusetts and lives with his wife in Western Massachusetts. Thanks to his research on light, he now has a modest collection of optical toys, including prisms, lenses, mirrors, binoculars, and a 6-inch refracting telescope.
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