I’ve been a Denver-based freelance writer, magazine editor, and book author for 40 years. I’ve started six magazines (city, regional, national), was editor in chief of five inflights and was director of communications at AAA Colorado for five years. I wrote Stapleton International Airport: The First Fifty Years (Pruett Publishing, 1982), which was the first history of a major U.S. airport, and co-authored Facing Your Fifties: Every Man’s Reference to Mid-life Health (M. Evans & Co., 2002), which Publishers Weekly included in its best books of 2002.
When I was a teenager, I was close to my maternal grandfather, Milton M. Brown. I was fascinated by the time he spent as a delegate in Herbert Hoover’s WWI Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB). He was one of only 185 American supervisors who worked for the CRB in German occupied Belgium. My grandmother had been a young Belgian girl in 1914 and had worked in the relief program and in the underground against the Germans. After they died, I inherited all their diaries, correspondence, and photographs from that period (1914-1917).
From 1986 through 1989 I worked full time researching the time period, WWI, the CRB, and numerous CRB delegates. From those efforts, I wrote an 850-page historical novel, Honor Bound. I had a few nibbles—agents and publishers who asked for the entire manuscript—but no one offered a contract.
In December 2012, I committed to working full time on re-connecting with my research, expanding my scope, and writing a non-fiction book that would be about the men and women of Belgium and the CRB. The subtitle of my book is a good indicator of what’s in it: “WWI’s little-known history of German occupation, Belgian resistance, and the band of Yanks who helped save millions from starvation.”
Because of what I found in my research, the original idea transformed into three books. The first one, Behind the Lines, was published in October 2014 and covers the start of the war in August 1914 through December 1914. I’m proud to report that Behind the Lines has received national recognitions and reviews, most notably a Kirkus Starred Review (only about 760 out of 10,000 books annually reviewed by Kirkus are given a Starred Review), and inclusion in Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2014. The Kirkus Starred Review ended by stating: “An excellent history that should catapult Miller to the top tier of popular historians.” (I’m still waiting for the catapult!) To see all the reviews and recognitions, click here.
While my plan was to have a trilogy, I found that publishers wanted only one book to tell the entire story (August 1914 to April 1917 when America enters the war). So, I’ve now pivoted to do just that. The working title of the book is WWI Crusaders: The little-known story of German occupation, Belgian resistance, and the band of Yanks who helped save millions from starvation. As you can see, I’ve decided to keep the same subtitle from the first book to the new book. That’s because I believe the subtitle is a perfect explanation of what readers will find in both books. I hope to find a traditional book publisher who wants to get WWI Crusaders out by the autumn of 2018 for the 100th year anniversary of the end of the war.
For those who notice little things, the reason I use my full name, Jeffrey B. Miller, on Behind the Lines is because there are a surprising number of Jeff Millers who are authors.