First-time author lauds military service, Army library resources


People write books for all kinds of reasons. Some have an intriguing story to tell. Others want to illuminate past events or to share ideas.

For first-time author Kathryn Goodwin Tone, writing “The King’s Broad Arrow,” a young adult novel about a boy drawn into the events of the American Revolutionary War, was a combination of all of the above.

“I had some life lessons I wanted to share with kids,” said Tone, a former military spouse with a deep interest in American history.


Karl Weisel/USAG Wiesbaden Family and MWR
First-time author Kathryn Goodwin Tone shows off some of her favorite U.S. history books at the Wiesbaden Library.

“Writing the book was always on the back burner while my own kids were at home,” Tone said, explaining that with her two children now out of the house — one in college and one in the military, she felt the time was ripe to put pen to paper.

“Although there were many days when I questioned the whole thing completely and had huge doubts, the experience is one of the most joyful things I’ve ever done,” she said. “In the end, I wrote the book I wanted to write, which feels great.”

Tone, who has degrees in journalism and international relations, explained that her original idea for the fictional book was inspired by a class she taught to fourth- to sixth-graders, which introduced philosophy with various themes such as justice and courage.

“I decided that setting the story during a war was the perfect context to expand on the concepts of courage and responsibility — how courage manifests itself,” she said.

Hours spent in her local library and reading source materials such as Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” and “Washington’s Crossing” helped Tone gain a solid grasp of the challenges faced by the fledgling nation.

“It was important to me, out of respect to readers, that the book be as authentic as possible. I wanted to write a story that could have actually happened — fitted to real events and people,” Tone said. “I believed in the story I was trying to tell, and felt very humbled by the people I was writing about.

Learning about the birth of the nation’s military was an affirmation for the author. “In the military, you are always a part of something bigger than yourself,” said Tone, who is married to a retired U.S. Army officer currently serving as a member of the U.S. Army Europe staff.

“Even after a lifetime spent around the military, I’m still amazed that so many talented and smart individuals have chosen to dedicate themselves to the concepts of service and sacrifice.

Tone said having the readily available resources of her local military library was much appreciated during her research. She praised the foresight of Benjamin Franklin and others in founding the first library in the colonies and the American Library Association and Special Services in continuing that legacy of providing free and open access to books and ideas wherever Americans serve around the globe.

“I think it’s wonderful that even though you are far from home when you go into a military library you feel like you are home again,” she said.

Tone will share her experiences with self-publishing at events in the near future including presentations for Americans Working Around the Globe and at the Wiesbaden Library in May.

To access free classes, resources, online materials and more visit the U.S. Army Library website at http://mwrlibrary.armybiznet.com/screens~S102/europe.html.