Mr. Fleming had been writing history books filled with powerful men for nearly 50 years when, in 2009, he chose to focus on the influence of the wives, mothers and girlfriends of Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, John Adams and James Madison.
He chronicled the womenâs stories collectively in âThe Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers,â which The Washington Post called it a âwell researched peek into the boudoirs of Americaâs political architects.â
Mr. Fleming had already written novels from a female perspective; one was âThe Officersâ Wives,â a bestseller in 1981. He also benefited from the increasing availability of the womenâs letters.
One powerful woman in âIntimate Livesâ was Mary Ball, Washingtonâs mother. Mr. Fleming told C-Span in 2010 that she âhad a ferocious temper and was very strong-willed, and she tried to make George her faithful servant.â
To escape her influence, he said, Washington wanted to join the Royal Navy, but his half brother Lawrence intervened. âImagine how different the country would have beenâ if Washington had served Britain, Mr. Fleming said.
Mr. Fleming sometimes departed from the Revolutionary era, taking on the Civil War, both world wars and the histories of West Point and New Jersey. But he would return to the period that most fascinated him, as he did in âThe Great Divide: The Conflict Between Washington and Jefferson That Defined a Nationâ (2015) and âThe Strategy of Victory: How General George Washington Won the American Revolution,â which he completed in March. It is to be published in October.
Mr. Fleming wrote frequently about Washington, including in a novel, âDreams of Gloryâ (1983), which has his kidnapping as a plotline.
David McCullough, who explored similar Revolutionary War territory in his best sellers â1776â and âJohn Adams,â called…