Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Nevada Historical Society presents “Sinatra in Nevada, Part II” at 5 pm on Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Join Nevada historian and former director of the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs Michael Fischer as he moderates a discussion about Frank Sinatra’s close personal relationship with Bill Raggio. As Washoe County District Attorney, and later state senator, Raggio’s integrity and reputation as a public servant was held in the highest regard by the public and his legal and legislative colleagues. But, his friendship with fellow Italian-American Sinatra, whose lifelong association with members of organized crime, eventually costing Frank his gaming license at the Cal Neva-Lake Tahoe, raised more than a few eyebrows.  

Sinatra: "Any report that I fraternized with goons or hoodlums is a vicious lie!"  
In this group are murderer-turned-FBI-informant, Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratianno,
 and New York Mafia Bosses, Carlo Gambino and "Big" Paulie Castellano.
Bill socialized with Frank often, and was the first one Sinatra called to help him organize the ransom and recovery when his son Frank Jr. was kidnapped at Lake Tahoe in 1963. In 1981, Sinatra chose Bill Raggio as his private attorney to represent him before the Nevada Gaming Commission in regaining a gaming license.  

Some of the evening’s discussion will address how Raggio walked a fine line in maintaining this friendship, and how much Bill may have known about Sinatra’s involvement with Mafia bosses, a claim Sinatra repeatedly denied throughout his lifetime; but was well-established in FBI files released after his death under the Freedom of Information Act. 

Among those participating in the discussion will be Michael Archer, author of Bill Raggio’s biography A Man of His Word; and highly respected, longtime Nevada journalist, formerly with the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Guy Farmer, who was familiar with the case against Sinatra at the Cal Neva and, at one point, listened in on an obscenity-laced telephone conversation as Sinatra threatened the Board’s director Ed Olson.

It should be a lively and interesting conversation, so come early and check out the wonderful historical exhibits the Society has to offer.

The Nevada Historical Society is located at 1650 N Virginia St, Reno (on the University of Nevada campus). Wine and cheese will be served starting at 5 PM with the discussion beginning at 5:30. A nominal admission fee may be required. For further information please call 775-688-1190.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Upcoming Literary Award for Khe Sanh Books

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be travelling next month to the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York to receive the Military Order of St. Louis medal for the Khe Sanh trilogy (A Patch of Ground: Khe Sanh Remembered, The Long Goodbye: Khe Sanh Revisited and The Gunpowder Prince: How Marine Corps Captain Mirza Munir Baig Saved Khe Sanh)  "in recognition of its important contribution to military literature" from the Knights Templar Hudson Valley Priory of Saint Patrick. 
Past recipients include bestselling writers Thomas Fleming, James Bradley (Flags of Our Fathers) and Philip Caputo (A Rumor of War). This year’s candidates included several best-selling writers and historians and a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist. As such, I am deeply honored by the selection and looking forward to the award dinner at the West Point Club on October 17, 2019
The event is not open to the walk-in public; however, if you wish to attend as my guest, preregistration is required. For information about cost of the dinner, attire, time and directions, etc., please contact LtCol (Ret) Robert Black at Those of you who have read A Patch of Ground and/or The Long Goodbye may recall then-Captain Black was Tom Mahoney’s company commander with the First Battalion, First Marines during those final harrowing days of Khe Sanh. Signed copies of The Gunpowder Prince will be available via preorder through LtCol Black. 
I will also be speaking about the battle of Khe Sanh on October 16, 2019, 2-4 pm, at American Legion #25 hall, 4 JFK Drive, Milltown, NJ (near the Rutgers University campus).  Signed copies of all my Khe Sanh books will be available. This event is open to the public. 
Between this Military Order of St. Louis, and The Gunpowder Prince having been recipient, last April, of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Colonel Joseph Alexander Award for distinguished biography, it’s been a very good year for recognition of the gravity of what Americans and their adversaries on the Khe Sanh battlefield endured, accomplished, lost and now continue to live with, over fifty years after that longest and costliest pitched battle of the Vietnam War. 

Éirinn go Brách,

I have several Irish forbearers, including my maternal grandmother, Lizzie Connor, who, as a young girl, along with her mother, Kitty, arri...