James and Suzanne Gindlesperger have long shared a fascination with the Civil War. Both have ancestors who fought in the Civil War, so it wasn't unnatural for James to be exploring the Civil War section of a local cemetery in the early 1990s while his daughter obtained information from nearby grave stones for a college project. When he discovered the grave of an escapee from Libby Prison he began a project of his own, hoping to learn more of the escapee, who apparently had been a local citizen. Several trips to the National Archives uncovered some limited information about the escape, but there were still some holes in the story. He contacted the National Park Service and asked if they could flesh out what he had uncovered. The surprising answer was that they had even less information, and they asked if they could use the information that James had discovered. They also suggested that he publish what he had found, resulting in his first book, Escape from Libby Prison.
That book received the George Washington Honor Medal for Excellence from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, was featured in a Discovery Channel documentary, and was optioned by Warner Brothers to be made into a feature movie. The screenplay was written and Tom Hanks and Dylan Sellers were selected as co-producers before Warner Brothers decided to drop the film from their production schedule.
Escape from Libby Prison was followed by two more books, Seed Corn of the Confederacy and Fire on the Water, with the latter gaining James his second George Washington Honor Medal for Excellence.
In the meantime, James and Suzanne had been visiting battlefields all over the East over a span of more than 25 years, and they had collected hundreds of photos and stories. They decided to do a joint venture, writing So You Think You Know Gettysburg?, a series of stories of the men and monuments at Gettysburg. Their first book together resulted in a Bronze Medal award in the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year in 2010. The book's success led them to write two more books in the So You Think You Know . . . series: So You Think You Know Antietam?, and a second volume of So You Think You Know Gettysburg?.
Following publication of the second volume of So You Think You Know Gettysburg?, Suzanne began laying the groundwork for their next project together, researching the field hospitals that arose following the Battle of Gettysburg. While she was doing that, James stepped outside the Civil War genre to begin a separate project that he had been hoping to do for a long time. That project culminated with his acclaimed book, Arlington: A Color Guide to America's Most Famous Cemetery published in 2017. Arlingtonfeatures a history of the cemetery, a discussion of how the unknown soldiers were selected and by whom, and a collection of the heroic accounts of some 250 men and women interred there. It was quickly selected to be carried in the gift shops of such prestigious institutions as the cemetery itself, the National Building Museum, the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Museum Shops, and the Manassas Museum Store, Late in the summer of 2018 James received word that his Arlington book had been awarded the Silver Medal in the Travel Book Category in ForeWord Review's Book of the Year competition.
Having completed that rewarding project, James joined Suzanne in the Gettysburg field hospital research, although the press of other projects led Suzanne to turn over the writing duties to James. Bullets and Bandages: The Aid Stations and Field Hospitals at Gettysburg was published by Blair in December 2020. The book was recently announced as the winner of the prestigious 2021 Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award for the best book about the Gettysburg campaign written in 2020.
With that project completed, the two have no intention of sitting back and taking it easy. Suzanne plans to follow her longtime dream of writing an historical novel, the subject of which hasn't been finalized yet, although she has a number of ideas from which to choose.
While she is working on that, James plans to resume his research into the trial of Henry Wirz, commandant of Andersonville prison and the only person hanged for war crimes for actions in the Civil War.
James is a member of the Sons of Union Veterans, and he and Suzanne are both members of the Friends of Gettysburg Foundation, Save Historic Antietam Foundation, Friends of Flight 93, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the American Battlefield Trust, and the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.
James has served as a consultant on a joint project initiated by National Geographic, NASA, Google Earth, and Carnegie Mellon University to map and digitally photograph Civil War sites using high resolution robotic cameras with full panoramic capability.
In addition to the organizations listed above, Suzanne is co-founder of PennWriters, a professional organization of published and aspiring writers.
James and Suzanne live in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and they regularly do book signings and lectures throughout the eastern United States. If you would like them to speak to your group or make an appearance at your event, please contact them to schedule.