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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Foster, Don: Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous

  Amazon  

4 stars

Don Foster is the guy who figured out who wrote Primary Colors, the anonymously published novel that satirized Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and for a time had all of Washington wondering who done it. Foster fingered Joe Klein as the culprit using a method he had first applied in his doctoral dissertation to "A Funeral Elegy," a 17th-century poem that was written by a certain "W.S." after the death by homicide of William Peter of Exeter. Foster determined that the W.S. in question was in fact William Shakespeare.

Foster's method of attributional detection involves examining the internal evidence of "questioned documents"--the vocabulary, orthography, spelling, and punctuation used by the author--and comparing his findings to the known writings of some finite number of likely suspects. Writers leave their marks on manuscripts unconsciously, Foster explains, as surely as gloveless burglars leave their fingerprints, their identities betrayed in their phrasing and word choice, in the body of authors whose styles they unwittingly emulate, in their commas and ampersands.

Foster's Shakespearian bombshell landed him on the front page of the New York Times early in 1996. His celebrity resulted in this mild-mannered English professor being called upon to apply his attributional techniques to a great many other cases, some of them headline-making, in which the authorship of an important document was in question. In his fascinating book Author Unknown Foster discusses six of the cases in which he has been involved, from his investigation of the Unabomber's literary produce after Ted Kaczynski's arrest, to a study of the Talking Points document Monica Lewinsky once handed Linda Tripp, to a debate about who really wrote "The Night Before Christmas." You think the man responsible for jollying up Saint Nick and transforming Christmas into a wretched holiday for the rapacious was Clement Clarke Moore, that birchen-rod-loving Biblical scholar who hated dance and song and noise and all things fun but wasn't above taking credit where it wasn't due? Think again.

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