Writing Peggy’s War: Fact, Fiction, and 500 Footnotes*

Book launch

Thursday, August 10, 2023, 7 pm | In-Person & Zoom Webinar

With author Karl Rhodes

Note: This is a Second Thursday Talk in deference to the Rockingham County Fair schedule.

Who in their right mind writes a novel with more than 500 endnotes handcuffing himself to the truth? Veteran journalist Karl Rhodes will talk about the challenges of writing historical fiction that adheres closely to a true story. (Almost no one does this.) 

Karl’s great-great-grandmother, Peggy Rhodes, ran a busy depot on the underground railroad that helped draft dodgers and deserters escape the Confederacy. She did so while her husband, Henry, was dying of consumption. She also ran the farm, raised five children, and served as a postmaster for the underground.

Readers of all ages will enjoy reading about and peering into the distant and recent past.

Buy the book

*technically, endnotes, but the who could resist the alliteration?

Peggy's War book cover

An Early Review

Sadly there is no genre wide enough to encompass the important new work by Karl Rhodes, Peggy’s War, (Dale Enterprise Literary Society, Richmond Va., 2023). Neither purely narrative history, nor easily categorized as historical fiction, Rhodes’s meticulously-researched opus is a powerful catalogue of source material compended together in the form of a speculative historical retelling. . . . Readers of all kinds from the family room to the archivist’s cubicle will appreciate Rhodes’s book, which if there is justice, will take its place among the classics of Rockingham County.

EK Knappenberger, MAR
Harrisonburg Va, June 2023


Born in Harrisonburg, Karl Rhodes grew up mostly in Florida, returning to the Shenandoah Valley in time to graduate from Turner Ashby High School. He majored in journalism at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he met his wife, Kim. In 1984, Kim and Karl moved to Florida, where he worked as a reporter on the startup crew of Orlando Business Journal. Two years later, they returned to Richmond, where Karl helped launch Virginia Business magazine. He eventually became the magazine’s executive editor.

In 1999, Karl was promoted to director of external communications for Media General, the parent company of Virginia Business. He returned to hands-on publishing in 2005 as editor of the University of Richmond Magazine, where he won numerous writing and editing awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Karl retired in 2021 from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, where he was a senior managing editor in the bank’s research department. He edited several of the bank’s publications while writing numerous magazine articles about economic history.

For the past two years, Karl has focused on being a great-great-grandson of Margaret Heatwole Rhodes, the protagonist of his new novel — Peggy’s War.

Books will be available for purchase and signing.