Tom Buk-Swienty is widely recognized as Denmark’s most engaging narrative historian. “He makes history come alive on the page” and “his writing is evocative.”
He is the winner of the prestigious Danish Søren Gyldendal Award, the Reader’s book Award, the History Book of the Year Award, the Danish Writers’ Award and the Rungstedlund Award.
His most recent book, The Lioness – Karen Blixen in Africa presents the untold story of Karen Blixen in Africa based on the latest Blixen research and has already been optioned for film and TV by Nordisk Film. The Lioness is the culmination of a decade of work on the Dinesen family. Tom Buk-Swienty has written a two-volume biography on Karen Blixen’s father Wilhem Dinesen, Captain Dinesen—Fire and Blood (2013) and Captain Dinesen—Until Death do Us Part (2014), and one volume on Karen Blixen and her brother Thomas Dinesen 1918: A Story of Love and War (2016).
His previous two-volume work on the Danish-German war of 1864, Slagtebænk Dybbøl (2008) and Dommedag Als (2010), became national bestsellers and have been adapted as a TV drama series for National Danish TV (DR). To date, the most ambitious and expensive project for DR, noted internationally for the political drama ‘Borgen’, and the crimes series ‘The Killing’ and ‘Those Who Kill.’
The 1864 drama series will broadcast in England, Germany, and France in 2015.
An abridged one-volume English edition of Buk-Swienty’s war epic, “which crackles with narrative energy” according to a review in Financial Times, was published in May 2015.
In Danish is also a ‘most welcome addition to his works on the Danish-German war’, a coffee table book featuring photos, paintings and drawings from the war and text by Tom Buk-Swienty.
Previous works include a biography on the legendary muckracker Jacob Riis, The Other Half: The Life of Jacob Riis and the World of Immigrant America, translated into the English and published by Norton in 2008. “It is meticulously researched and gracefully written, it is both and education and a delight.” In 2006 came The Last House on the Prairie – a collection of travel pieces from the American West, “that make you feel as if you were there.” His first book came out in 1999, America Maxima: A Road Trip in Clinton’s America, which is a classic road-trip narrative hailed as “probably the best introduction to modern America on the Danish market.”
Before becoming a full-time writer in 2012, Tom Buk-Swienty held a position as associate professor at the School of Journalism, University of Southern Denmark. Prior to this, he worked as US correspondent for Weekendavisen, the Danish equivalent of the NewYorker. He was a fellow at the New York Public Library’s Center for Writers and Scholars in 2003-4, and was.
He has a MA in History from University of Copenhagen and University of California, Santa Barbara. He lives in Denmark with his wife and two children.
1864: The Forgotten War that Shaped Modern Europe
Published by Profile Books, London, 2015
The Battle of Dybbøl,1864. Prussian troops lay siege to an outpost in Schleswig, in the far south of Denmark. Danish troops make a valiant attempt to hold out but are overrun by the might of the Prussian onslaught. A seemingly minor footnote in Prussia and Bismarck’s rise to continental supremacy, the conflict foreshadowed the forces that, fifty years later, would tear Europe apart.
Reconstructed from original eyewitness accounts, Tom Buk-Swienty’s 1864 is a magisterial re-telling of a pivotal, overlooked chapter in European history. But most of all, in its human detail, from touching letters between husbands and wives to heartbreaking individual stories of loss, 1864 is a gripping human drama that shows the effect war has on soldiers, on families and on the individual men and women who must live its realities.
‘We are right in the thick of it, shells flying overhead and every day another man is wounded … I’m on outpost duty tonight and only God knows if I’ll get through it unharmed.I have as much of a chance as the next man.’ Private Niels Larsen, April 1864