Since the launch of Cottonwood Summer in 2004, Gary has presented hundreds of book talks to groups across the United States. Audiences have included attendees of book groups, book festivals, church groups, DAR chapters, libraries, retired military officers’ clubs, schools, and service organizations. He currently is available to present the following talks:
Behind the Book Talk for Sea Stories: A Memoir of a Naval Officer (1956-1967)
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Ensign Gary Slaughter was credited with playing a key role in defusing a potential nuclear confrontation between his destroyer and a Soviet submarine armed with a nuclear torpedo. His adept handling of this dangerous situation was featured in two documentary films aired in America and abroad on the 40th anniversary of the incident in 2012. Sea Stories brings this incredible true event vividly to life in just one of the 60 vignettes comprising this book that spans his naval service during the Cold War.
As a writer, Gary has the unique skill to see humor and likability in the people and the situations he encountered during his Navy days. His writing skills are on full display in Sea Stories, as well as in his previous series of five award-winning Cottonwood novels set on the World War II home front.
German POWs in America during World War II
In his early years in Owosso, Michigan, Gary observed with boyhood fascination the German prisoners of war who were interned at Camp Owosso located on the outskirts of town. He saw POWs at the local canning factory where they worked under the watchful eye of their Army guards, standing watch with tommy guns at the ready. When two German prisoners escaped with the help of two Owosso women, his life-long obsession with German POWs began.
Finally in 2002, he put his business career on hold and sat down to write the “Great American Novel.” Predictably, his critically-acclaimed Cottonwood novels are replete with stories involving German POWs, starting with Cottonwood Summer which tells the story of a POW escape and the subsequent trial of two young women. Gary’s talk tells about POWs in American during the World War II -- a little-known chapter in the history of the war.
The Closest Call: Secrets from the Cuban Missile Crisis
Ensign Gary Slaughter was sworn to secrecy for 40 years. On October 27, 1962, as a young naval officer aboard the USS Cony, Slaughter played a key role in surfacing a Soviet submarine armed with a nuclear torpedo. The tense standoff that resulted could have easily sparked a devastating exchange of nuclear weapons between the USSR and the United States. But thanks to the cool thinking and decisive action by Slaughter and his shipmates, the exchange was averted.
As a part of the Crisis-ending agreement between Premier Khrushchev and President Kennedy, the incident was classified Top Secret. Well after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Slaughter’s role was finally revealed by the 2002 publication of Peter Huchthausen’s book, October Fury.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Slaughter was a key contributor to the 2012 PBS documentary, The Man Who Saved the World, that is regularly shown on PBS and YouTube. He also appeared on the BBS Television Network in 2013 in the BBC Productions’ The Silent War.
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