Living Well in Litchfield County, Connecticut

Michael Korda Talk & Book Signing
Author photograph by Dave Krugman
June 9, 2024

Michael Korda Talk & Book Signing

Michael Korda Talk & Book Signing – “Muse of Fire”
The Hickory Stick Bookshop is delighted to welcome author Michael Korda who will be at the store on Sunday June 9th at 2.00 pm.  He will give a talk about his new book “Muse of Fire : World War I as Seen Through the Lives of the Soldier Poets”, followed by a Q&A session and a book signing.


“Muse of Fire” sees Michael Korda turn his gaze towards the Great War and its most intimate chroniclers. With journalism and mail hampered by heavy censorship and war novels unfinished for years, these poems—written in trenches, hospitals, and sanitoriums—gave British civilians their first glimpses of the sheer horrors of the Western Front.

“Muse of Fire” begins with Rupert Brooke, the golden-haired celebrity poet whose thirst for war persisted to his early death, and ends with the tragic death of Wilfred Owen, killed only days before the armistice brought an end to a war that took over 25,000,000 lives. In the arc between the two, the intertwined lives of these and other soldier poets come to represent a people’s turn from eager nationalism to embittered resignation. Korda’s cast of characters swells to include the young American poet Alan Seeger, killed in action as a private in the French Foreign Legion; Isaac Rosenberg, whose parents had fled czarist antisemitic persecution and who was killed in action at the age of 28; and Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon, whose friendship endured through the complex web of allegiances, rivalries, and romances that made up Britain’s literary scene.

Through these individual portraits, Korda depicts four years of poetic achievement juxtaposed against a civilization destroying itself. Intertwining their lives with brutal accounts of failed battles and massive casualties, he unflinchingly argues that “the war to end all wars” did anything but; indeed, as trench warfare’s resurgence in Ukraine demonstrates, the fatal consequences of the First World War persist today.


Michael Korda participated in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.  The former editor in chief of Simon & Schuster, he is the author of major biographies of Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Robert E. Lee., as well as the best-selling memoir “Charmed Lives”.


“A masterful book, nimble, lyrical, and searing, and a volume Michael Korda alone could have written.”  –  Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer-Prize winning author

“Brief biographies of a handful of WWI soldier-poets provide unique insight into the Great War . . . Tracing each man’s personal trajectory and their interactions with each other, Korda emphasizes the seductiveness of conflict and the fact that poets enjoyed an end-run around the military censors (and a massive readership).”  – Booklist starred review

“Captivating . . . Alternating between the early lives of his subjects and their experiences in the trenches while delving into their poetry might be disorienting, but Korda is an expert, so his intertwining narratives intersect in illuminating ways . . . Poets and war are a winning combination in the hands of a seasoned historian.” – Kirkus Reviews starred review

“Korda’s narrative pulsates with fascinating background detail and harrowing wartime exploits, and the story flows sinuously along channels of literary influence as the poets mentor or otherwise inspire one other.  Most compellingly, Korda teases out the overlapping relationship between youthful artistic passion and the mass production of populist propaganda… It’s a sophisticated mix of literary and political history.” –  Publisher’s Weekly

This event is free and open to the public.  If you are unable to attend this event, you may reserve signed copies of “Muse of Fire” by calling The Hickory Stick Bookshop at (860) 868 0525, or shop our website 24/7 at

Sunday, June 9, 2024 – 2:00pm to 3:30pm

2 Green Hill Road
Washington Depot, CT 06794

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