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History professor to speak in Europe about recent book

TAMPA, Fla. – One of the University of South Florida’s history professors, Graydon A. (Jack) Tunstall, is attracting worldwide attention because of his recent book Blood on the Snow: The Carpathian Winter War of 1915.” He has been awarded a Norman B. Tomlinson Jr. Book Prize (Honorable Mention) in 2010, and is planning his trip to Europe to give lectures on his publication.

Tunstall has a Ph.D. in modern European history and is USF’s executive director of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society. As a former officer from the Vietnam War, Tunstall likes to incorporate his own experience into his teachings.

“When I teach World War I or World War II, I tell them, ‘If you have not served, you don’t know how important weather, terrain, supplies and surprise are,’” Tunstall said.

In “Blood on the Snow,” Tunstall recreates the brutal Carpathian campaign with descriptive detail about the harsh winter and vicious combat.

“The troops wouldn’t have water so they would eat the snow,” Tunstall said. “They would get violently ill the next morning because they were right below a cemetery and the water they drank had remains of dead bodies.”

Tunstall said his book took more than a decade to write. To get the proper information, he traveled to Vienna to look through their war archives and had trouble locating the casualty list. Tunstall said he knew their government had purposely misplaced the document to hide the brutality of the battle. He later discovered the casualty list in a pile of documents that had to do with cooking bread for the troops. The casualties were as high as 80 percent.

“The book is about an unknown battle to the English-speaking world that was one of the major battles during the first World War,” Tunstall said. “No one had ever written on it before because you had to study the language.”

Tunstall had to do research in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary and Germany for his book. The decade of hard work was worth it, he said.

The journey to Europe will begin in September. Tunstall will be giving lectures in Poland, Slovakia, Italy and Austria. For the first time he will be visiting the Carpathian mountains, the setting where “Blood on the Snow” takes place.

“I’m actually going to see it so I’m going to go ape, let’s just say,” Tunstall said excitedly.

The successful history professor is now publishing for Cambridge University. His next book, which will come out in 2014, will be about the Austria-Hungarian army in the first World War.

“History is like a circle that doesn’t complete,” Tunstall said. “All the same mistakes are made. No body listens. If we listened to historians, much of what has happened would not occur, but no body seems to learn.”


Filed under:History Arts and Sciences    
Author: Melissa Moreno