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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed author Paul Bruno about his research into the history of jeeps, what inspired him, and the work that went into writing his latest book, The Original Jeeps.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I have more than 35 years of experience in the fields of project management and information technology. After earning his bachelor’s degree in management in 1983, I continued to pursue his master’s degree in business administration. I then returned to school for a second undergraduate degree in computer software, followed by a master’s degree in history from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2009.

I have held numerous positions in information technology including the first CIO for the City of Henderson, Nevada.  I also worked as a senior consultant and trainer for the International Institute for Learning and currently as a consultant for Fiala Project Resources.

Using my extensive knowledge in the field of program and project management I recognized the excellent example of project management that the development of the first Jeep prototype represented. My first book, Project Management in History: The First Jeep, merged a compelling historical event with leadership, project management and entrepreneurial lessons.

Paul Bruno, author of The Original Jeeps, interview on The Table Read
Paul Bruno

In late 2019 I decided to use my history education and background to expand and retell the story of early Jeep history from an historical perspective in The Original Jeeps. 

When did you first WANT to write a book?

I originally desired to tell the story of the creation of the first Jeep in movie form starting in 1999.  However, I didn’t realize the extreme difficulty of having a movie made. After ten years of fruitless effort to bring the story to the big screen, in 2011 I decided to tell the story in book form.

When did you take a step to start writing?

My first steps toward writing occurred in 1999 with my initial research into early Jeep history and my first drafts of a screenplay on the creation of the first Jeep which were completed in 2000.  I continued to research early Jeep history throughout the first decade of the 21st century, but as related above, having a movie made of the story proved futile. In 2011 I decided to tell the story in book form and took my first steps to write a book on the first Jeep in that year.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

It took three years for my first book on early Jeep history to come out.

How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?

It took approximately one year from the fall of 2019 for my second book on early Jeep history to appear.  The shortened time frame was due to already having all the research I needed to extend the story, rewriting large portions of the first Jeep book from an historical perspective and having an established relationship with my publisher.

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write The Original Jeeps?

I had always planned to write a trilogy on early Jeep history as the events that led to the development and creation of the Jeep are too extensive for one book.  Therefore, after a completing additional research after the publication of the first Jeep book, I undertook writing The Original Jeeps, as I wished to continue telling the story of early Jeep history.

What were your biggest challenges with writing The Original Jeeps?

The most difficult aspect to writing about early Jeep history revolved around finding enough historical documentation to tell the story of the first Jeeps in a comprehensive manner. I overcame this by sheer determination, continuing to research at the United States National Archives until I came across the golden egg of early Jeep history—“FTC versus Willys-Overland Motors, Inc.”—the landmark Federal Trade Commission (FTC) case that took place between 1943 and 1948.

I had heard about the case and requested to review it while visiting the Archives in College Park, MD. As I began to look through the trial transcript and exhibits it dawned on me that it contained an immense time-capsule, a treasure trove of early Jeep history documentation. This included the first sketch of a Jeep type vehicle and American Bantam’s historic successful bid proposal, plus a huge amount of other historically significant documents.

Paul Bruno, author of The Original Jeeps, interview on The Table Read

This research was augmented by additional research at U.S. National Archives and reading all the books I could find on early Jeep history. It also involved innumerable Internet searches and reaching out to individuals in Butler, PA, where the first Jeep was created, to enlist their support.

How did you plan the structure of The Original Jeeps?

The structure of the book developed from the research material as I realized the Army had used a structured project management approach to procuring the first Jeeps.  Therefore, it came naturally to have background on the United States Army during the interwar period and the first major player in the drama, The American Bantam Car Company. 

Then the story followed a standard project management methodology, genesis, general requirements (what do we want), specific requirements (a vehicle takes shape), bidding, building, and finally testing and acceptance for the first Jeep. 

I then added on to that material with information on Willys and Ford (the other players in the story) and then the competition between them through May 1941 to complete The Original Jeeps.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did The Original Jeeps need?

My publisher provided editing services for both books.  The Original Jeeps required measurably less editing than my first book, Project Management in History:  The First Jeep, because I used a good deal of material from the latter book in the new one (rewritten from a historical perspective) and added three chapters to extend the story.

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What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?

Love Your Story – I fell in love with early Jeep history from the first time I heard about Bantam’s story, and that love affair continues to this day.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

I am currently beginning the process of completing my journey with early Jeep history by starting my final book on the subject, which will describe the Jeeps evolution into the iconic Willys MB, detailing the events in the story from May – November 1941. I also hope to release a photographic companion work with my final early Jeep history book.

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Studying, reading, and writing about early Jeep history has proven a life-long endeavor once I started in 1999 and has proven well worth the effort to tell this amazing story in more detail than anyone to date.  I am more humbled than proud to have had the opportunity to recount what these amazing individuals accomplished, against all odds, during 1940 and 1941 to create a legend, the Jeep. 

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

The Original Jeeps (TOJ) website:

Original Jeeps Facebook Page:

Original Jeeps Military Writers Society of America Page:

Paul Bruno LinkedIn Profile:

Amazon TOJ Page:

As FYI TOJ was a 2021 Bronze Medal Winner from both the Military Writers Society of America and Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards.

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