The downtown Camden Public Library will host talks by two authors Tuesday, July 5. Both talks are free and open to the public.

Rzasa speculates about the future

At 1 p.m., Steve Rzasa will talk about his new science fiction novel, “The Word Unleashed.” Before moving to Buffalo, Wyo., Rzasa was a writer for the local newspapers for seven years, two years at The Courier-Gazette in Rockland and five at The Camden Herald, the last three as assistant editor. He is a technical services librarian at the Johnson County Library.

A new Christian speculative fiction company called Marcher Lord Press published both Rzasa’s science fiction books recently, “The Word Reclaimed,” one of six finalists for the 2010 Carol Award in Speculative Fiction; and “The Word Unleashed.” His short story “Rescued,” which is set in the universe of “The Word Reclaimed,” won the 2009 G.K. Chesterton Award in the Athanatos Christian Ministries Writing Contest. His third novel should be released this fall.

Rzasa was born and raised in southern New Jersey and fell in love with books — especially science fiction novels and historical volumes — at an early age. In his novels, history repeats itself on a galactic scale in a future where earth’s distinct cultures and religious traditions are still recognizable and influential.

Nelson analyzes Bunker Hill

At 6:30 p.m., James Nelson will talk about his newest book, “With Fire and Sword: The Battle of Bunker Hill and the Beginning of the American Revolution.” The Battle of Bunker Hill was the first time that a genuine American army had ever taken the field. If Lexington and Concord was the shot heard around the world, then Bunker Hill was the volley that rocked Parliament and the ministry of George III. “With Fire and Sword” reveals the dramatic story of the fight that changed the face of the Revolution. The talk is part of this summer’s American Cultural Journey series at the library.

One of the most important battles of the American Revolution, the conflict pitted 3,000 British against 2,400 American troops. Nelson, author of “George Washington’s Great Gamble,” presents a thrilling, blow-by-blow account of the legendary event.

“Americans today do not look on the Battle of Bunker Hill as an American loss. Indeed, most Americans would probably be surprised to learn that the embattled farmers were not the winners,” said Nelson.

Prior to the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Americans more than held their own against the redcoats at the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The victory had emboldened them and made them overconfident about fending off an anticipated British assault in Boston. News that the British were planning on seizing the Charlestown peninsula on the north side of Boston Harbor reached Colonel William Preston on June 15, 1775. Preston instructed his troops — a ragtag assortment of undisciplined civilians — to fortify Bunker’s Hill. Situated on high ground, the hill and its view of the land below gave the Americans an edge over the expected enemy. The next day, the British troops were surprised to discover the redoubt, which had been built under cover of the night.

The redoubt staved off the British but only for a short time. The Americans ran out of gunpowder, rendering them defenseless. However, the Battle of Bunker Hill proved to be a Pyrrhic victory for the British. Led by William Howe, the British army was beset by more than 1,000 casualties, with 226 dead and 828 wounded —a casualty rate approaching 50 percent. The reaction back in England was shock; no battle from the Seven Years’ War came close to the casualty rate of Bunker Hill, not even the Battle of Minden, long considered to be an example of the worst carnage. What is more, a high percentage of the dead and wounded were officers. Unlike the British troops, the Americans took decisive aim before shooting, targeting officers. They had honed their shooting skills during long days spent hunting game; accuracy put food on the table.

The American losses numbered less than the British, with 115 dead and 271 wounded. Although the British had won, the Americans put up an impressive fight; they also realized that the British army was not invincible. And as “With Fire and Sword” brilliantly illustrates, Americans lost the battle but won the war.

Nelson is a former professional sailor and the author of more than 15 works of historical fiction and nonfiction. His books have covered piracy in the Americas, the American Revolution and the naval action of the Civil War; and he has appeared on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and Book TV, among others. In 2004, Nelson was the recipient of the American Library Association/William Young Boyd Award, one of the country’s top honors for military fiction, for his novel “Glory in the Name.” In 2009, he was awarded the Samuel Eliot Morison Award by the Naval Order of the United States for his nonfiction “George Washington’s Secret Navy.”

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to dernest@villagesoup.com.