KENNETH '53 and CHRISTIAN CAMERON '87
2001: Like Father, Like Son
Although it may appear that Christian Cameron '87 followed in the footsteps
of his father Kenneth '53, both assert that the younger Cameron charted
his own course. It's mostly coincidence, they say, that both Ken and Chris attended
Rochester, joined the U.S. Navy as intelligence officers, and now write novels.
But it may be this shared experience that allows the two to work so well together.
This year, the Camerons released Peacemaker, the second of three books
in a series of military thrillers written by the father-son team under the pseudonym
Begun in the late '90s, the Cameron collaboration was sparked when Chris proposed
an idea for a book as the pair were looking for father-son activities. Ken says
the usual writer's response to such an idea is "go write it yourself,"
but thinking the idea was a good one, he suggested the two write the book together.
They wrote the first 100 pages just as Chris had outlined, and the first publisher
who saw the draft bought the book.
"We were looking for more things to do together," Ken says. "This
proved to be a lot of fun and rewarding."
A full-time writer for 30 years, Ken began his career as a teacher, including
five years in Rochester's English department. The author of more than 20 books,
he has published everything from plays and textbooks to fiction and nonfiction.
Chris is relatively new to writing, picking up the craft after leaving the Navy
So far, response to the pair's latest novel has been positive, with readers
praising the authors' inside knowledge of military intelligence as "Kent"
recounts the exploits of the series' hero, Navy Lt. Alan Craik.
"Few authors integrate multiple plots with such dazzling 3-D realism and
technical accuracy," as a review in Publishers Weekly said.
The two continue to write, both together and separately, with the follow-up
to Peacemaker due out this year. And they are working on a book about
18th-century fishing that, Ken says, is "more interesting than it sounds."
Chris is writing a novel about George Washington and his slaves during the American
While being an intelligence officer may offer good material for fiction, such
insider access comes with creative difficulties, too. Everything the Camerons
wrote had to be OK'd by a government adjudicator to make sure no sensitive information
was revealed. Chris still worried that he might be giving away too many secrets,
so the two wrote under a pseudonym.
"From the moment we started, (Chris) was worried about violating one Navy
rule or another," Ken says. "Now he admits we could have gone into
more detail than we did."
As writers, the duo also had to tackle the issue of turning military intelligence
operations, which can last many years, into exciting stories that keep readers
"The shoot-em-ups, for example, are not really a very big part of counter-intelligence,"
Chris says. "But that's what people buy books for. If we wrote about how
things really took place, no one would want to read them."
Writing together seems a natural extension of careers that look, on the surface,
to be quite similar. But the Camerons are quick to point out differences. Ken
thought his historical-minded son would be happier at a smaller school than
"I loved it there as an undergrad, but I didn't think it was right for
him at the time," Ken says. "Fortunately, he went there anyway and
found exactly what I had: really exciting teachers in a subject he loved."
Citing the school's reputation in medieval history, which had always been his
passion, Chris says Rochester seemed an obvious choice.
"I really feel lucky. I think I was there at just the right time,"
Chris says. "Granted I didn't spend all my time studying, but the atmosphere
was much more intellectual minded, which I appreciated."
While his father joined the Navy because he knew he was going to be drafted
and served just the minimum four years, Chris chose the Navy rather than pursuing
"It was a Rochester professor, [Wilson Professor Emeritus of History]
Perez Zagorin, who told me 'why not make history instead of just writing about
it,' " he says. "He thought I had what it takes to do real academic
work, but he told me that many people never get out in the real world. I do
hope someday to get back to academic work, though."
Zagorin's advice paid off, Chris says. His Navy experience, which included
serving in such hot spots as the Gulf War and Somalia, proved to be excellent
fodder for his new creative endeavor.
1953: Focused on the Theater
It's little surprise that Kenneth Cameron turned out to be a writer, but what
may be a surprise is the variety of his writing. Classmate John Braund '53 would
have predicted Cameron to be writing plays and productions rather than military
"He was very involved with the Stagers," Braund says. "The school
put on a play he wrote. He was a very good playwright."
Although Braund remembers Cameron on the track and cross-country teams, he
says the writer was involved in many endeavors.
"He was a very active guy, always active with running, active with the
Stagers," Braund says. "It doesn't surprise me that his career would
turn out so varied."
1987: Active or Contemplative?
There was no doubt that Christian Cameron was a history buff. Some students
take classes out of requirements or interest, but Cameron tried to live the
history he studied, to the point of participating in historical re-enactment
groups, starting a fencing club, and even bringing a full suit of armor to class.
"As a student, he was unusually interested, unusually widely read,"
says Professor of History Richard Kaeuper. "He was obviously taking courses
out of a deep personal interest, not merely for requirements."
Although most people with such a strong interest in history end up as teachers
or historians, Kaeuper says that a career in the Navy seemed perfectly suited
There are two types of medieval lifestyles, Kaeuper notes: the active life
and the contemplative life. He says Cameron seemed destined for the former.
"I told him he could become a historian if he wanted, but I'm not sure
if that standard historian career path was what his personality and talents
would lead to," Kaeuper says. "All his energies seemed directed toward
a more active life."
Maintained by University Public Relations
Please send your comments and suggestions to: