Art McGrath grew up fascinated with all things Napoleonic. When he was little he reenacted the Battle of Waterloo with toy soldiers—always making sure Napoleon came out on top. He spent four years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps; and in 1987, while in Egypt during Operation Brightstar, the words of Napoleon to his men when they caught sight of the Great Pyramid came to mind: “Soldiers, forty centuries of history are looking down upon you.”
After the Marines he returned to Vermont for college, getting a bachelor’s in English and a master’s in history. Even while working as a reporter for a small weekly newspaper in northern New Hampshire he still read all he could about the Napoleonic era. After running across references to Americans serving in the Grande Armée, he became frustrated there was so little written about them. Thus The Emperor’s American was born. “I wrote this as a way to discover how an American could end up across the Atlantic in French uniform fighting the Emperor’s enemies,” McGrath said. “It was discovery through writing, and while it may sound like a cliché, it was as if Pierre Burns was standing over my shoulder telling his story. He wanted to be discovered.”
McGrath is a reenactor and a proud member of the Brigade Napoleon and the 3me regiment infanterie de ligne—the French 3rd Infantry Regiment of the Line. He became a reenactor after he began writing the novel. “In order to really describe it I needed to be able to taste the gunpowder, hear the drums and volleys of musket fire, feel the wool of uniforms. Reenactors bring history to life.” The Emperor’s American is the first in a series that will follow the adventures of Pierre Burns through to Waterloo, with a hiatus between Elba and the Hundred Days for part of the War of 1812.
In addition to being a novelist, McGrath is the editor of three weekly newspapers in northern New Hampshire. He lives in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont with his wife and two sons.