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MHQ Contributors, Spring 2013

Originally published on Published Online: February 20, 2013 
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AS A CHILD growing up in Peru, Marie Arana was sometimes sent to the living room of her grandparents' home as punishment for misbehaving. There, sitting on a hard stool, she stared at paintings of several of her ancestors, including three who shared an unbelievable past.

On one wall hung a portrait of her great-great-great-grandfather, the Spanish general Joaquín Rubín de Celis, the first Spaniard to charge and the first to fall at the December 1824 Battle of Ayacucho, a pivotal victory for the rebels who would win Peru's independence from Spain. Opposite him hung a painting of the daughter he never knew, Trinidad, a beautiful girl born a few weeks after her father died in the battle. The third canvas bore the likeness of the man Trinidad had married at 16—Pedro Cisneros Torres, a rebel soldier who had fought against Joaquín on that crisp December day at Ayacucho.

Gazing at the paintings, Arana wondered at the story of her ancestors battling on opposing sides in the dusty Peruvian mountains. Today, those paintings hang in her study, where they bore witness as she crafted her forthcoming book, Bolívar, a sweeping biography of Simón Bolívar, the general who led South America's fight for freedom. Read our excerpt that tells the story of Bolívar's Hannibal-like march across the Andes to victory.

* * * *

FAMILY HISTORY also sparked Peter Hohnen's research into the extraordinary exploits of the World War I German naval raider Wolf, detailed in our story "Deadly Decorum." His great uncle, a merchant sailor, had disappeared at sea near New Guinea in 1917; the Wolf had captured his ship.

To uncover the full story of the Wolf, Hohnen—a commander in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve and a lawyer who had studied the laws of armed conflict at Cambridge University—teamed up with Richard Guilliatt, an award-winning journalist and writer. Their book, The Wolf: How One German Raider Terrorized the Allies in the Most Epic Voyage of World War I, is available in paperback from Free Press.

* * * *

WHEN DANA SHOAF was a boy, his parents gave him a copy of The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War, first published in 1960. Shoaf loved the book and quickly became fascinated by the conflict that had torn his country apart a century earlier. His parents indulged that obsession, reading histories to him and giving over vacations to battlefield tours.

In our feature "A Good Plan Gone Wrong," Shoaf—editor of Civil War Times and America's Civil War, sister publications to MHQ—uses the battle maps of the Union's Robert Sneden to tell the story of the Battle of Chancellorsville, which was fought 150 years ago this spring. As a boy, he read a firsthand account of the battle in the diary of a Union soldier his father had bought for him for $100.

"The soldier described the sound of shells firing and coming in over his head," Shoaf says. "It's a battle that's always fascinated me."

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