- Virginia Johnson
Award-winning author Russell Freedman takes readers to important places and times with his true stories of courage in hard times. Pick up one of his books, and you may find yourself face to face with Abraham Lincoln, dancer Martha Graham, or Chinese philosopher Confucious. Talk about an excellent adventure!
Russell Freedman was born October 11, 1929, in San Francisco. His dad worked as a publisher's agent; he met Russell's mother at her workplace: a bookstore! From a very young age, Russell was surrounded by books and writers. Famous authors--John Steinbeck, Margaret Mitchell, and many others--often came to dinner, and young Russell soaked it all in. Like his father, he developed terrific storytelling ability.
He went to college, getting his B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley. Just after graduation he went and served in the army during the Korean War. Afterwards, he wrote and edited for the Associated Press in San Francisco.
Becoming a Book Author
His first books were on animals and the ways they behave--something that had interested him since he was quite young. But in 1980, Russell saw an exhibit of photos at the New York Historical Society. They told the story of children's lives in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America. Soon he was working on a new project--Immigrant Kids. He followed this with Children of the Wild West, a book the told the dusty, unglamorous truth about growing up on the frontier when the nation was young.
Once having experienced the West, he chose to tell about other people's lives there. Indian Chiefs (1987) concerned six tribal leaders. Buffalo Hunt (1988) told the story of the connection between the Indians and the buffalo and what happened when the great, shaggy beasts were hunted to the verge of extinction.
Telling True Tales
He used his journalistic experience at unearthing fact from fiction once again when he tackled the life of one of history's most fabled characters: Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln: A Photobiography went on to win many awards including the Newbery Medal. He has also received the Newbery Honor for The Voice That Challenged the Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights (2005), Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery (1994), and The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane (1992). In 1998, he received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal--an award given only every five years for a children's author whose whole body of work is considered lasting and substantial.
Recently, his writing has moved into talking not just about important people in history but also about important moments in history. Give Me Liberty! The Story of the Declaration of Independence brings that earliest piece of the nation's history vibrantly to life. In Defense of Liberty: The Story of America's Bill of Rights begins with interesting questions about what is and what is not allowed by the American Constitution. Russell Freedman has written dozens of books. Click here for a list of what is owned by the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.
You can read more about Russell Freedman's life and work in an essay found in the book Author Talk, compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus.
These Web sites also have information about Mr. Russell's life and work:
Meet Authors and Illustrators: Russell Freedman
In this article, the author discusses his craft and gives summaries of some of his books.
Additional articles on Russell Freedman, drawn from digitized reference sources, are available online to our library users. Once you enter the database area (a CRRL library is required), go directly to these resources and search within their menus for Russell Freedman:
Biography Resource Center
Literature Resource Center
The Professional Collection