Thomas Fleming, Historian of the Revolution, Dies at 90

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 women’s stories collectively in “The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers,” which The Washington Post called it a “well researched peek into the boudoirs of America’s political architects.”

Mr. Fleming had already written novels from a female perspective; one was “The Officers’ Wives,” a bestseller in 1981. He also benefited from the increasing availability of the women’s letters.

One powerful woman in “Intimate Lives” was Mary Ball, Washington’s mother. Mr. Fleming told C-Span in 2010 that she “had a ferocious temper and was very strong-willed, and she tried to make George her faithful servant.”

To escape her influence, he said, Washington wanted to join the Royal Navy, but his half brother Lawrence intervened. “Imagine how different the country would have been” 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 “The Great Divide: The Conflict Between Washington and Jefferson That Defined a Nation” (2015) and “The Strategy of Victory: How General George Washington Won the American Revolution,” which he completed in March. It is to be published in October.

Mr. Fleming wrote frequently about Washington, including in a novel, “Dreams of Glory” (1983), which has his kidnapping as a plotline.

David McCullough, who explored similar Revolutionary War territory in his best sellers “1776” and “John Adams,” called…

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