Samuel Hawley









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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A Novel
(Conquistador Press)

Bad Elephant Far Stream is an animal story for grown-ups, a novel about the odyssey of a circus elephant, told from her own perspective, through her own eyes. Inspired by the true story of the circus elephant Topsy, the subject of the 1903 Thomas Edison film "Electrocution of an Elephant," it begins in the forests of Ceylon in the late 1860s with the capture of a baby elephant known to her own kind as Far Stream. She is taken to America chained in a ship, a journey of several months, and sent to the Adam Forepaugh Circus in Philadelphia. There, Far Stream embarks on a new life under the big top, appearing first as "Baby Annie," then, when she grows bigger, as "Topsy," part of Forepaugh’s famed elephant dancing quadrille. She crisscrosses North America for thirty years with the circus, experiencing hardships, kidnapping, escapes and adventure. But when she comes to outweigh her keepers by a factor of forty--it's hard not to hurt somebody. It's hard not to be "bad."


"...meticulously researched and well important story...One of the strengths of Hawley's book is that it avoids a too-emotional approach, letting the facts of these elephants' lives speak for themselves. Another strength is the feel for the period described. One actually gets a sense of the language and values of the late 19th century...I urge people to read this book."
(Stewart McFarlane, author of
Of Mice and Zen: Animal Encounters in the Life of a Wandering Buddhist)

"Hawley’s novel explores the world of circus elephants in an intriguing and haunting way...Moving and thought-provoking ... an intense and emotional novel. A highly recommended read."
(Shalini's Book Reviews)

"5 star review. Well researched, well written and compelling...gripping, heart felt, and filled with compassion...A wonderful work of historical fiction that I can recommend to all readers."
(Lynelle Clark Aspired Writer)

"Far Stream captured my heart immediately...I enjoyed this book so much that I had to research the story further."
(Tom Riddell, The Writers Lounge)

"This extremely well written novel really makes you stop and think. It was very well researched and put together, leading to a semaless whole...simultaneously haunting and enchanting...[Hawley's] low key descriptions paint this world in front of the audience, allowing them to immerse themselves fully into the tale. The characters were developed in a natural manner that really helped to carry the story forward...This historically significant novel is one that will stick with me for a long while. It's a must read for those who enjoy this genre."

"I found myself having a hard time putting down the book as I wanted to find out what would happen next. Topsy's story was just that engrossing...A good book for animal lovers (although parts will make you sad) and very well written."


Land Speed Record
The Inside Story of the Land Speed Record in the Sixties
(Firefly Books)

In the late 1950s an intrepid handful of American hot rodders began to vie for the world land speed record, in British hands since the 1920s. It stood at 394 mph. A total of eight men would attempt to break it: Mickey Thompson, Athol Graham, Donald Campbell, Nathan Ostich, Glenn Leasher, Craig Breedlove, and Art and Walt Arfons. It would be racing of the most dangerous kind, a game in which nearly all of them would suffer high-speed crashes and two would be killed. By the mid-1960s only two were left standing, Craig Breedlove and Art Arfons, locked in a speed duel from which neither would back down. They would create the most powerful cars ever seen and risk their lives driving them on the Bonneville Salt Flats, pushing the LSR up through 400, 500 and 600 mph and experiencing some of the most spectacular crashes in motor sport history. Speed Duel tells this remarkable story through the eyes of the drivers themselves, their crews, their friends and their families.


“…anyone who’s ever sat behind a wheel and wondered what it would feel like to floor it will find this cinematic account difficult to put down.”
 (Publishers Weekly - starred review)

“…well-told...a gripping read that will provide a jet-fueled adrenaline rush.”
(Library Journal - starred review)

 “I guarantee you’ll be captivated by the book.”
(Canadian Hot Rod)

“…a detailed and highly personal narrative that puts the reader in the cockpit traveling at insane speeds.”
(Canadian Driver)

“Hawley brings the highest standards to inspiring story.”

"...without a doubt the best story ever written about the battle for the Land Speed Record in the of my favorite reads in quite some time."
(Vintage Motorsport)

"The author's storytelling style reminds me of Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, engaging and atmospheric, yet factual and detailed...Very highly recommended."

"Interesting and complex...The best job I've seen done on the subject so far."
(Craig Breedlove)

"This book covers the era in stunning fashion and is written in a very readable manner--this is not an easy book to put down...a real keeper."

hawley percy williams
Percy Williams, World's Fastest Human
(Ronsdale Press)

Independent Publisher Awards silver medal winner!

At the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics a young Vancouver runner named Percy Williams came out of nowhere to win the 100- and 200-metre gold medals. The following winter he swept the US indoor track circuit, silencing critics who claimed his Olympic wins were a fluke. In 1930 he broke Charlie Paddock’s longstanding record for the 100 metres, setting a new mark that would stand until the advent of Jesse Owens. In 1932 he went to the LA Olympics to defend his double sprint crown, something never before successfully accomplished. And in between he engaged in an ongoing duel with some of the fleetest men on the planet, a battle for track supremacy and the title World’s Fastest Human. And yet through it all he remained a reluctant and enigmatic hero. When asked to explain his secret, he sometimes shrugged and said: “I just ran.”


"If you're into memoirs or biographies, I strongly recommend I Just Ran by Samuel Hawley about the life of Percy Williams, a Canadian athlete who was the Ben Johnson of his era--without the illegal drugs."
(Literary Press Group)

"This book is a good read."
(Canadian Running)

"...a fine biography...a masterful account of Williams' spactacular rise and fall, drawing on the sprinter's private letters, diary, and scrapbooks."
(Ottawa Citizen)

"I was really moved at the end....Very well written."
(Philippe Falardeau, director of 2012 Academy Award-nominated
Best Foreign Language Film Monsieur Lazhar))

"...captures the essence of the world of athletics in the period surrounding the 1928 and 1932 Olympic Games...The fastidious and personal details of the athlete's perspective on training and competing are uncannily accurate. You can share the agony anfd ecstacy that every competitor ultimately experiences....Everyone involved in the sport of track and field should run, not walk to order the new book on Percy Williams."
(Canadian Olympian Doug Clement)

"Hawley flawlessly describes the Olympic heart was beating in anticipation with every yard gained by Percy's lightning speed. This is a story for every Canadian."
(Vancouver Weekly)


Imjin War Hideyoshi
Japan's Sixteenth-Century Invasion of Korea
and Attempt to Conquer China
(Co-published by the Royal Asiatic Society, Seoul, and the Institute of East Asian Studies Press, UC Berkeley, 2005; reissued in paperback by Conquistador Press, 2014

In May of 1592 Japanese dictator Toyotomi Hideyoshi dispatched a gargantuan invasion army from Kyushu to Pusan on Korea’s southern tip. Its objective: to conquer Korea, then China and then the whole of Asia. The resulting seven years of fighting, known in Korea as imjin waeran, the “Imjin invasion,” after the year of the water dragon in which it began, involved 300,000 combatants and claimed more than two million lives. It dwarfed any contemporary conflict in Europe and was one of the most devastating wars to grip East Asia on the past thousand years. The Imjin War is the most comprehensive account ever published in English of this cataclysmic event, so little known in the West.


“Magnificent... The Imjin War positions the reader well to follow the unfolding drama in a war involving three nations, with fighting and diplomacy on multiple fronts...Hawley is exhaustive in his research.”
 (South China Morning Post)

“An engrossing narrative that reads almost like a novel.”
(International Institute of Asian Studies Newsletter)

“A wonderful read...superbly organized.”
(JoongAng Daily News)

“An epic tale with a cast of fascinating and colorful historical figures.”
(Korea Times)

“The scope of [Hawley’s] work is truly vast.”
(Seoul Magazine)

“Lucidly written...reads more like a “Prelude” to Shogun than a dry academic text.”

“A brilliant study...”

“At over 600 pages, this book is a feast for one looking for a well-rounded narrative of the war. I was hooked as soon as I started reading about the pre-invasion diplomatic posturing and blundering. Well researched and documented, Hawley deserves a big round of applause for this work.”
(Shogun-ki, official blog of the Samurai Archives)

George Foulk Korea
The Private Letters of George C. Foulk, 1884-1887
(Lexington Books, 2007)

The story of America's initial involvement in Korea as told through the private family letters of U.S. Navy ensign George Clayton Foulk, Washington's representative in Seoul in the mid-1880s. "The Hermit Kingdom," as Korea was known, was no ordinary diplomatic posting at this time. Emerging from centuries of self-imposed isolation, Korea was struggling to establish itself as an independent nation amid the imperial rivalries of China, Japan, England, and Russia; anti-foreign violence remained a simmering threat; the Korean government was a hotbed of intrigue and factional strife, its monarch King Kojong casting about for help. Foulk, fluent in Korean and the foremost western expert on the country, was an astute observer of this country's transformation. In his private letters, published here for the first time, Foulk recounts his struggle to represent the U.S. and to help Korea in the face of State Department indifference.


"For decades, George Clayton Foulk, and his ill-fated service in Korea in the 1880s, have captured the imagination of students of early Korean-American relations. Samuel Hawley's timely edition of Foulk's private letters is comparable in significance to the pioneering documentary work done by George M. McCune and John A. Harrison more than a half century ago. Scholars in modern Korean history, American diplomatic history, and American-East Asian relations will all benefit from the publication of this remarkable collection of letters."—Robert R. Swartout, Jr., Carroll College

"As the first American to master the Korean language and one of the first Americans to penetrate the previously closed kingdom of Korea in the 1880s, George Foulk provides an intimate look at the customs of late Choson Korea and the personalities of some of that country's highest-ranking officials. Thrust into diplomatic service, Foulk also provides a brutally frank assessment of some of the first American diplomats and missionaries and a scathing indictment of US policy toward Korea. His letters constitute an invaluable resource for understanding the complex events swirling around Northeast Asia in the late nineteenth century."—Wayne Patterson, St. Norbert College

Geroge Foulk Korea travel
The 1884 Korea Travel Diary of George Clayton Foulk
(Lexington Books, 2007)

Navy ensign George Foulk made a 900-mile journey through southern Korea during which he kept a detailed record of everything he observed and experienced. This travel diary, part of the George Clayton Foulk collection in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, has been almost entirely overlooked by scholars and yet is of inestimable value. First, it is an account of a trip no Westerner had ever undertaken before or would ever experience again: a long-distance sedan chair journey in the manner of a Choson-dynasty government official. Containing his private thoughts, penned in the heat of the moment, Foulk's diary is immediate, raw, and honest, laying bare his experience. It gives readers is a superbly descriptive and perceptive record of Korea. Inside the Hermit Kingdom stands unique as a firsthand account of the kingdom of Choson in its pristine condition, before the intrusion of the outside world.


“An immediate, raw, and sometimes embarrassingly honest account.”
(Asia Weekly)

“It is hard to know which is more remarkable, the journey around southern Korea made by Foulk in 1884 or the labor involved in deciphering his travel diary by Sam Hawley.”
(An Seon Jae, President of the Royal Asiatic Society of Korea)