Samuel Hawley author









Samuel Hawley is a writer. His books are highly eclectic. He has written about 16th-century East Asian history, 19th-century Korean-American relations, Olympic sprinting and land speed racing and a circus elephant named Topsy who was electrocuted in 1903. He lives in Kingston, Ontario.

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Samuel Hawley Ultimate Speed
Samuel Hawley The Fight That Started the Movies
homeowner-with-a-gun, thriller
percy williams olympics 1928 gold medal art arfons craig breedlove land speed record imjin war japanese invasion korea


December 3, 2019

I'm working on a new video series, "Land Speed Legends," that I'll begin to upload to YouTube within a couple of weeks. (I'm thinking of setting up a channel on Bitchute as well.) It's going to feature Craig Breedlove, Art Arfons, Walt Arfons, Athol Graham, Glenn Leasher, Nathan Ostich and a whole bunch more. Check out the promo below. And don't forget to suibscribe! The first epsiode I have planned will be: "Craig Breedlove's Spirit of America - Secret Weapon!" Even if you're a Breedlove fan, I bet you haven't heard this story before.

land speed, craig breedlove, spirit of america, art arfons, green monster,


November 14, 2019

Here are Episodes 5 and 6 of my Imjin War series on YouTube:

Episode 5: Why Was the Gun So Important?
Imjin War, military history, significance of the gun

Episode 6: Yi Sun-sin Strikes Back!
imjin war, Yi Sun-sin, Yi Sun Shin, Japanese invasion of Korea

Episode 7: Battle for the Yellow Sea
Imjin War, Yi Sun-sin, kobukseon, turtle ship, panokseon, Battle of Hansan Island


October 31, 2019

Here are Episodes 2, 3 and 4 of my new video series on the Imjin War.

Episode 2: Why Did Hideyoshi Want to Conquer China?
Imjin War, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Oda Nobunaga, Japan invasion of Korea

Episode 3: Japan vs. Korea: The First Invasion Begins
Imjin War, Hideyoshi, Konishi Yukinaga, Kato Kiyomasa, invasion of Korea, Yi Sun-sin

Episode 4: North to Seoul
imjin war, hideyoshi, invasion of korea


October 9, 2019

I'm happy to announce the premiere of a new video series, "The Imjin War," based on my book The Imjin War: Japan's Sixteenth-Century Invasion of Korea and Attempt to Conquer China. I've completed five episodes so far and will be uploading them to Youtube at a rate of one per week. Here's a list of the first eight episodes:

IMJIN WAR Ep. 1: East Asia in the 16th Century
IMJIN WAR Ep. 2: Why Did Hideyoshi Want to Conquer China?
IMJIN WAR Ep. 3: The First Invasion Begins
IMJIN WAR Ep. 4: North to Seoul
IMJIN WAR Ep. 5: Why Was the Gun So Important?
IMJIN WAR Ep. 6: The Korean Navy Strikes Back
IMJIN WAR Ep. 7: The Battle for the Yellow Sea
IMJIN WAR Ep. 8: Rise of Korea’s “Righteous Armies”

Here is Episode 1: IMJIN WAR Ep. 1: East Asia in the 16th Century

Imjin War documentary Samuel Hawley


July 8, 2019
壬辰战争 Samuel Hawley Imjin War
The Chinese translation is finally here of my book The Imjin War: Japan's Sixteenth-Century Invasion of Korea and Attempt to Conquer China (Chinese title: 壬辰战争). It was translated by Fang Yu (方宇) and published by Beijing publishing house HinaBook (民主与建设出版社).

Here is a link to purchase the Chinese edition:

And here is the original English edition on Amazon:


May 8, 2019

Here's a film I made about visiting filming locations in Rome where Vittorio de Sica shot three of the key scenes in his 1948 classic Bicycle Thieves: 1) the street where Antonio’s bicycle is stolen; 2) the area where Antonio and Bruno wander in the rain, searching for the lost bike (in photo below); and 3) the alley where Antonio confronts the thief after following him home. By a wonderful coincidence, when I was researching locations, sitting in the AirBnB flat we rented in Rome, I discovered that the tiny street where the  thief lived was exactly where we were staying! Antonio and Bruno walked right past our front door!

Bicycle Thieves Vittorio de Sica

Here's some footage I shot on the island of Malta of the mysterious cart ruts:

1) "Malta's Mysterious Cart Ruts - Dingli / Clapham Junction"
Malta Cart Ruts

2) "Mysterious Malta Cart Ruts – running into the sea!"
Malta Cart Ruts

3) "Mysterious Malta Cart Ruts – up in the hills!"
Malta Cart Ruts


January 10, 2019

The 1974 film Thunderbolt and Lightfoot starring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges and written and directed by Michael Cimino was based on fact! Here’s the true story of the 1965 Brinks heist in Syracuse, NY (using a cannon) that very likely inspired the film.

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot Clint Eastwood


October 18, 2018

Here is a short documentary I made about American inventor and film pioneer Enoch Rector. It's called The Man Inside the Camera. Rector filmed the first feature-length movie in cinema history using a camera he manually operated FROM THE INSIDE. Sounds weird? It's absolutely true. Watch to find out.

This doc is based on my book The Fight That Started the Movies: The World Heavyweight Championship, the Birth of Cinema and the First Feature Film.

Enoch Rector James Corbett Bob Fitzsimmons


October 2, 2018

My latest book is now out: Ultimate Speed: The Fast Life and Extreme Cars of Racing Legend Craig Breedlove (Chicago Review Press, Oct. 2, 2018). This is Craig Breedlove's authorized biography. It covers his entire life, all three of his land speed jet car projects and a whole lot more. Twenty-four pages of photos are included and a foreword written by Craig himself.

Ultimate Speed on Amazon

Utlimate Speed on Barnes and Noble

Ultimate Speed at Chicago Review Press

Here's an excerpt, published on "A chainsaw, a marriage, and lots of fiberglass: How Craig Breedlove cleared a path for the Spirit of America"

hawley ultimate speed


July 31, 2018

Here's an interview I recently did with Jonathan O'Callaghan on "What if...Spain Conquered China?" (All About History, April 26, 2018, pp. 74-77.) The Spanish plan to conquer China (and the subsequent failed attempt to take Cambodia) was an interesting sidebar I wrote about in my book The Imjin War. Here's the full story.

What if Spain Conquered China

What if Spain Conquered China


March 6, 2018

My next book, Ultimate Speed: The Fast Life and Extreme Cars of Racing Legeng Craig Breedlove, will be coming out in October 2018 from Chicago Review Press.

Craig Breedlove Spirit of America

In the 120-year history of land speed racing, no name looms larger than that of Craig Breedlove. An L.A. hot rodder with a high school education, a family to support and almost
no money, he set out in the late 1950s to do something big with his life and break the speed record. The car he designed was not powered by an internal combustion engine like the British machines that had dominated the LSR for decades. Craig planned instead to harness the thrust of a jet. With a growing obsession that would cost him his marriage, he started building the car in his dad's garage with the help of his friends. Its name: Spirit of America. Through perseverance and endless hard work, Craig completed Spirit and broke the record on the Bonneville Salt Flats, setting a new mark of 407 mph in 1963 and bringing the LSR back to the USA after 36 years. He then became locked in a speed duel with land speed rival Art Arfons. Over the next two years Craig and Art would trade the LSR back and forth in a series of whiteknuckle rides and experience some of the most spectacular crashes in motorsport history, Craig wrecking his original Spirit and building a replacement, Spirit of America-Sonic I, along the way. When it was over Craig had broken the record five times and become the first person to drive 400, 500 and 600 mph. In the early 1970s he turned to rockets and set an acceleration record at Bonneville that stands to this day, surviving another crash in the process. He was repeatedly burned by the cutthroat nature of the motorsport business and suffered financial ruination and repeated heartache in marriage, including the tragic death of his third wife. And he built a new jet car in the 1990s, Spirit of America-Sonic Arrow, to go head-to-head against Britain's massive ThrustSSC to be the first to Mach One. Craig's subsequent crash at 675 mph remains the fastest in history. Even today, at the age of 80, he is still going strong with plans for yet another Spirit of America racer, this one powered by a rocket. The ultimate goal: 1,000 mph. Ultimate Speed is the authorized biography of Craig Breedlove, a complete and candid revelation of one of motorsports' most interesting and elusive figures. It is based primarily on countless hours of interviews that Hawley conducted with Craig and dozens of people connected to his life. It is an exciting and inspiring true story of ingenuity, perseverance, hard work and courage—of what one man with a big dream and boundless drive can achieve.


March 27, 2017

Here is an article I wrote for Bright Lights Film Journal on "The Birth of the Feature Film--120 Years Ago."

A weird fact about the world's first feature film is that Enoch Rector and his team of assistants shot it from inside the camera. Read the article to find out more. For the full story, check out my book The Fight That Started the Movies, available in paperback, hardcover and ebook editions.

ARTICLE: THE FIGHT THAT STARTED THE MOVIES: The World Heavyweight Championship, the Birth of Cinema and the First Feature Film

November 4, 2016

On March 17, 1897, in an open-air arena in Carson City, Nevada, “Gentleman” Jim Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons fought for the heavyweight championship of the world. The fourteen-round contest was recorded in its entirety by film pioneer Enoch Rector from inside a huge, human-powered  camera called the “Veriscope.” Rector’s movie premiered in New York City two months later. Known today as The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight, it was the world’s first feature-length film.

The making of The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight was the culmination of three years of rapid evolution in motion picture technology in which boxing played a key role. It began in the summer of 1894, when West Virginian Enoch Rector and his friends Otway and Gray Latham happened upon a shop in New York City where Thomas Edison’s latest invention, the Kinetoscope peephole machine, was introducing the public to moving pictures. As the trio left the shop, Gray Latham had a brainstorm: Why not show prizefights on this wonderful new Edison device, one round per machine? Prizefighting was banned in most states of the Union, but the law said nothing about showing a film of a prizefight. It would be a sure moneymaker.

The trio immediately set to work. The first problem they encountered was the fact that Edison’s Kinetograph movie camera and Kinetoscope viewer could handle only twenty seconds of film. This was not nearly long enough for a prizefight, which was made up of three-minute rounds. Three full minutes of filming was not possible at this time, so the trio settled for one minute. If they could film and exhibit a fight comprised of one-minute rounds, it would convey an approximation of a prizefight, enough to get the public excited and the nickels rolling in.


May 1, 2016

The release of my next nonfiction book, The Fight That Started the Movies: The World Heavyweight Championship, the Birth of Cinema and the First Feature Film, is set for October. Below is the final cover design. To read the back cover blurb, go to my "Forthcoming" page.

Samuel Hawley The Fight That Started the Movies

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copyright Samuel Hawley 2016