About the Author

Eric Bredesen grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, USA, population 60,000. Dubuque is a beautiful, relatively old, rather Victorian town set on the flood plain and amongst the hillocky, wooded, limestone bluffs along the Mississippi River. Grant Wood painted similar locales about sixty miles to the southwest. Antonin Dvorák composed his From the New World (Symphony No. 9) in Spillville, a Czech enclave about sixty miles northwest. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin lies about the same distance away to the northeast, in Wisconsin.

Dubuque is the most Catholic town “of size” in the United States of America. The locals say that the town sits on seven hills, just like Rome. But these are Irish and German Catholics speaking, their ancestors having come here to mine galena (lead ore) in the 1840s and 50s. New to the United States, and liking their drink nearly as well as their pope, these folks naturally opposed the young nation’s Civil War. As such, Dubuque and the surrounding area — despite the fact that its mines provided the ore for some eighty percent of the nation’s lead — became a hotbed of “Copperheadism,” opposition to the war. (This term is derogatory, equating the war protestors to the deadly copperhead snake.)

Yet just fifteen miles to the east of Dubuque, and three miles up a tributary of the Mississippi, is a town famous for its pointed contributions to that Civil War: aptly named Galena, Illinois, population 3,500. In 1840 Herman Melville visited his uncle in Galena for a considerable duration of the summer, shortly before heading fatefully to the South Pacific. In the 1850s Galena boasted more residents (about 14,000) than did Chicago and seemed destined for greatness. Lincoln and Douglas debated in Galena. Ulysses S. Grant was working in his father’s leather store in Galena when the Civil War began. Ulysses and eight fellow Galenaeans would become Civil War generals. After the war Grant ascended to the presidency of the United States and appointed four Galenaeans to his cabinet. But alas the Galena River silted up whilst the demand for lead declined sharply and the railroad generally eclipsed the riverboat — owing largely to lawyer Abraham Lincoln’s essentially globalist efforts on behalf of the railroad companies versus the riverboat companies. Chicago emerged as the hub of the whole, revitalized country. Galena’s fleeting glory was finished. She became the Bruges of the American Midwest while her cardinal sister St. Louis was forced to play second fiddle to the White City.

As for Dubuque, it remains one of the largest U.S. cities unattended by a federal superhighway — although Highway 61 slips through town on its way south to New Orleans.

Eric Bredesen was raised a Protestant Christian, a Lutheran. His ancestry is three-quarters Norwegian, one-quarter English. He graduated from the Stephen Hempstead public high school in Dubuque, where he played starting quarterback on the varsity gridiron football team. He went on to the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering. He began his professional career as a computer analyst with Arthur Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), which was then still a division of the famous but doomed accounting firm. Living in Minneapolis and Chicago, Eric entered upon his present scholarship by reading during the evenings and planning a great escape of sorts according to which he would travel the world. Before long he did indeed quit his job and spent more than two years traveling Europe, Oceania and Asia carrying little else than a black rubber backpack half full of books. He punctuated his travels by writing and self-publishing a successful travel guidebook. Eventually he coupled that book to the World Wide Web, thus forming the basis of an online international travel agency that now affords him the ability to live comfortably and to work independently from his home. He is married and the father of two young boys.