Gene Tempest

Newspaper articles

The Fenway Victory Gardeners and the pandemic

THE BOSTON GLOBE  May 28, 2020

In April we were so starved for life and living that we saved a sprouted cooking onion, named it the Hope Onion, and grew it in a vase indoors where we could watch its pale roots get long and tangled. Meanwhile, The New York Times called us “scallion nation,’’ and people on the Internet thought we all should be victory gardeners again.

At the Fenway Victory Gardens on a recent Sunday in May, Brenda Velez, in overalls and a mask, was working her plot.

“I got my seeds ready,’’ Velez said. “I’m ready to go.’’ ... CONTINUED HERE

Real estate industry trying to adapt to new reality

THE BOSTON GLOBE  April 1, 2020

Long before the coronavirus outbreak, closing on a house was a transaction so legally and financially complex that it required the carefully choreographed work of a half-dozen specialists. Even minor disruptions of the ancient system of property purchasing have important ramifications.

“It’s a dance,’’ explained Sara Rosenfeld, a veteran sales associate at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage-Cambridge with 38 years’ experience in metro Boston. “Everybody has to be on the same dance floor and working for the same thing.’’


America’s love affair with heirloom fruits and veg

THE BOSTON GLOBE  March 12, 2020

Kathy McFarland, a retired English teacher, arrived at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds 12 years ago. In her time with the company, she has witnessed incredible growth at their headquarters in Mansfield, Mo. — the “middle of nowhere,’’ McFarland called it, albeit famously the place where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the “Little House’’ books.

When McFarland first started, all orders were filled by hand. The company now relies on two Stamprite seed-packing machines that can process up to 40,000 packs a day for customers in 50 states and 70 countries. The middle of nowhere, Missouri — increasingly connected to the rest of the world via a thriving mail-order business built on antique seeds.


How a kid from East Boston became the cactus king

THE BOSTON GLOBE  December 18, 2019

The most common question succulent expert Art Scarpa gets when he lectures about the plants he’s been growing for almost seven decades is: “How often should I water?”

“And,” he sighed, “there’s no answer for that.”


You can drive – and own – a piece of Soviet automotive history

THE BOSTON GLOBE  November 16, 2019

On a recent Sunday in Spencer, Mass., I was behind the thin, hard wheel of a communist car.


Thirty years of Russian influence – on our tomatoes

THE BOSTON GLOBE  September 11, 2019

Two years before the fall of the USSR, seedsman Bill McDorman — then age 35 and owner of Garden City Seeds of Missoula, Mont. — traveled deep into Soviet Siberia searching for new types of tomatoes unknown in the West.


The sugar snap pea turns 50

THE BOSTON GLOBE  July 24, 2019

In the spring of 1969, in Twin Falls, Idaho, Calvin Lamborn, a young plant breeder at the Gallatin Valley Seed company, crossed a snow pea with a thick-podded rogue type pea — yielding a most unusual new plant whose plump pod was as delicious as its little green pearls. Lamborn’s creation would become known as the sugar snap pea. That cult legume — once hailed as the vegetable of the century — turns 50 this year.


We tested our soil the old-fashioned way – we ate it

THE BOSTON GLOBE  July 7, 2019

Tasting soil to determine its quality is an old practice spanning centuries and continents. I did not know this until a few weeks ago, when I started a garden and, for the first time in my life, found myself directly concerned with dirt.


The tyranny of tiny living

THE NEW YORK TIMES  June 4, 2017

My husband and I share a 492-square-foot apartment in Cambridge, Mass. We inhabit a “micro apartment,” or what is sometimes called a tiny house. This label is usually proudly applied to dwellings under 500 square feet, according to Wikipedia. We are unwittingly on a very small bandwagon, part of a growing international movement.

But deep inside the expensive custom closets and under the New Age Murphy beds, the pro-petite propaganda has hidden some unseemly truths about how the other half lives. No one writes about the little white lies that help sell this new, very small American dream. ... CONTINUED HERE

// Click here for magazine articles published in French.

Doc films


co-written with Stephen Ives

A bold new look at the media mogul William Randolph Hearst. His life. His castle. His tweets? Parables for today from the original creator of New Journalism. With truths, fakes, and big money... Battle royal for the soul of our news.

Based on the national bestseller The Chief by David Nasaw. Directed by Stephen Ives and Amanda Pollak. [photo: NYPL]

American Veteran

co-written with Stephen Ives

A new four-part series animated by the powerful testimony of veterans from our wars. Witness the stories of men and women from across the country, from disparate backgrounds, from every military branch. A timely, intimate investigation of our changing military.

Directed by Leah Williams and Stephen Ives.

The Great War

The 6-hour television event that marked the 100 anniversary of our entry into WWI. A long forgotten lesson in American power, hope, and hubris.

Directed by Stephen Ives, Amanda Pollak, and Rob Rapley. Written by Stephen Ives and Rob Rapley.

The New York Times called it “detailed and entertaining.” The Wall Street Journal, “enormously absorbing.” Per TV Guide it was “sprawling and engrossing.” Winner of a Writer’s Guild of America Award for outstanding writing in television.

︎ iTunes


Une histoire de la guerre

A new history of warfare from the 19th century to our own time. Published by the Éditions du Seuil (Paris, 2018). Edited by Bruno Cabanes with Thomas Dodman, Hervé Mazurel, and Gene Tempest.

Recognized as one of the 25 “books of the year” by French magazine Le Point in 2018. Read more about A History of War in French or in English

Translations coming soon into Chinese, Korean, German, Italian.


Bio & contact

get in touch
︎ gene [dot] tempest [at] gmail [dot] com

Writer, television producer, and historian, Gene received her Ph.D. in history from Yale University, where she studied the plight of horses during WWI. Her doctoral thesis, “The Long Face of War,” was awarded the Hans Gatzke Prize for Outstanding Dissertation in European History.

She has taught university courses on the intimate history of warfare and the environmental impacts of armed conflict, and served as a co-editor on the 500-page collective volume “A History of War” (Une histoire de la guerre) published by the Éditions du Seuil in 2018.

She was the co-producer of the 6-hour television epic The Great War for PBS, and, with her screenwriting partner Stephen Ives, co-wrote the forthcoming 4-hour PBS mini-series American Veteran. From 2016-2017, she served as the first ever Historian in Residence for PBS’s flagship history series, “American Experience,” at WGBH-Boston.

Born in Plano, Texas, she grew up in China, France, and India. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley (B.A.), she lives in Cambridge, Mass., with her husband, the biologist Paul Shamble.