Christian Bauman was born in Easton, Pennsylvania in 1970. He began grade school while living in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and moved to Quakertown, New Jersey when he was in the fourth grade. He remained there until he left home at age 17. He graduated from North Hunterdon High School near Clinton, New Jersey, in 1988, and did not attend college. His daughter Kristina was also born in 1988. He has a second daughter, Fiona, born in 1999.
Bauman's family traveled a great deal around North America and Europe when he was a child. The family spent a year in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka in 1983-84, when Bauman would have been in 8th grade. Bauman was raised by his stepfather (a philosophy professor) and mother (a physician); his biological father was only an occasional presence in his life and spent a year in prison when Bauman was a child. In a 2003 interview with Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air Bauman said his childhood was not a particularly happy one. In a 2008 public radio interview with Vin Scelsa, he stated he is now estranged from almost all of his family.
The subject matter of Christian Bauman's first two novels was drawn from his experiences as a US Army soldier. He joined the army in 1991, at age 21, and remained in for four years. He was a member of the small army boat field (Army Waterborne), and served in Somalia in 1992-93 (on an LCM-8), and Haiti in 1994 (on the LSV-1). In both cases, Bauman was among the first American troops in the deployment—within the opening weeks of the Somalia mission, and within the first hour of the Haiti occupation.
Following his honorable discharge in 1995, Bauman spent the next few years writing and playing guitar on the North American folk circuit, both alone and as part of the group Camp Hoboken (which also included folksingers Gregg Cagno and Linda Sharar in its ranks). Christian was frequently an opener for acts including Pete Seeger, Jack Hardy, John Gorka, Odetta, Cheryl Wheeler, and Livingston Taylor, at venues like Godfrey Daniels, Passim, Eddie's Attic, The Iron Horse, and Freight & Salvage. This time period serves as the basis of Bauman's third novel, In Hoboken.
Bauman wrote both songs and short stories during the 1990s. Some of the songs (including one called "Kismaayo", written in Mogadishu and mailed back to Jack Hardy, who then performed it at the Bottom Line) are in the Smithsonian's Folkways Collection of New York's Fast Folk recordings. None of Bauman's short stories from the time have been published. A few small sections of The Ice Beneath You were written in Somalia during Bauman's deployment there, but the majority was penned in 1999-2000; the novel was purchased by Simon & Schuster in 2001 and published in 2002. In his book What Every Person Should Know About War, author Chris Hedges called The Ice Beneath You "One of the finest books about life in the American army."
On National Public Radio, the majority of Bauman's commentaries for All Things Considered have been about the four years he was a soldier, but he has also written about his origins as a writer, his daughters, and his time as a touring musician.
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