Event Audio

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  • The first vice president to assume the presidency on the death of an incumbent, John Tyler was called “His Accidency,” but historian Edward P. Crapol sees a bold leader who enhanced presidential power.
    Edward P. Crapol: John Tyler
    Wednesday, April 11, 2012
    Plaza Branch

    The first vice president to occupy the White House after the death of the incumbent, John Tyler was derided by critics as “His Accidency.” Yet historian Edward P. Crapol depicts Tyler as a bold leader who used the malleable executive system to his advantage and enhanced presidential power.

    Crapol, author of John Tyler: The Accidental President, is the William E. Pullen professor of American history, emeritus, at the College of William and Mary.

  • Dr. Walter Broadnax, distinguished professor of public adminstration at Syracuse University, examines presidential leadership, the current state of executive power in the U.S., and the lingering effects the current financial crisis will have on future presidents.
    Walter Broadnax - Leadership Challenges for the Presidency: A World of Opportunities and Hazards
    Wednesday, April 4, 2012
    Central Library

    What, exactly, is presidential leadership? What is the current state of executive power in the U.S.? What lingering effects will the current financial crisis have on future presidents? Professor Walter Broadnax addresses those questions in the annual Park University Hauptmann Lecture on international politics, public administration, and democracy.

    Broadnax is the distinguished professor of public administration at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

  • Architect Wendell Burnette discusses an approach to architecture that relies on consensus and specificity of materials to create buildings that are timeless and valuable to their clients and users.
    Wendell Burnette: Crafting Space
    Tuesday, April 3, 2012
    Central Library

    Award-winning architect Wendell Burnette discusses his distinctive approach to architecture, one based on developing consensus to create buildings that are timeless and valuable to their clients and users. This methodology extends to using “locally appropriate construction systems and materials” to create “soulful places for our clients, our constituents, our communities, and our world.”

    Burnette is the 2012 Regnier Distinguished Visiting Chair at Kansas State University.

  • Historian Julie Courtwright examines how fire has shaped the landscape of the Great Plains and the lives of its residents, from Native Americans to modern farmers and ranchers.
    Julie Courtwright - Prairie Fire: A Great Plains History
    Sunday, April 1, 2012
    Central Library

    Historian Julie Courtwright explains the role of fire – man-made and natural – in shaping the Great Plains and the lives of its residents. Taking their cue from lightning strikes, Native Americans would burn the prairie to encourage the growth of new grass. Modern ranchers and farmers follow the same practice.

    Drawing upon old diary entries, newspaper accounts, and pop culture artifacts like TV’s Little House on the Prairie, Courtwright explores how fire has benefitted and sometimes terrorized humans.

  • Harvard legal scholar Noah Feldman examines how Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, and Robert Jackson overcame rivalries, personality clashes, and individual approaches to constitutional thought.
    Noah Feldman - Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Justices
    Tuesday, March 27, 2012
    Central Library

    Noah Feldman examines how four of FDR’s Supreme Court appointees – Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, and Robert Jackson – juggled rivalries, personality clashes, and individual approaches to constitutional thought to decide landmark cases on race, business and politics.

    Feldman, professor of law at Harvard, has written about the Middle East, advised the writers of the new Iraqi constitution, and has been named one of “75 influential figures for the 21st century” by Esquire.

  • Journalist and author Guy Gugliotta discusses his new book about the raising of the U.S. Capitol, a project meant to symbolize national unity even as the country slid ever closer to secession and Civil War.
    Guy Gugliotta - Freedom’s Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War
    Thursday, March 22, 2012
    Central Library

    Guy Gugliotta discusses his new book about the raising of the U.S. Capitol, a process steeped in irony.

    Even as the majestic structure rose, the Union it represented was drifting toward Civil War. Among the historic characters in this drama was Jefferson Davis, a big supporter of the project – until he left Washington to become president of the Confederacy. (And the engineer in charge of construction, Montgomery Meigs, feuded bitterly with the architect, Thomas U. Walter).

  • Attica Locke discusses her novel Black Water Rising, about a Houston lawyer who saves a drowning woman and opens a Pandora’s Box of secrets that threaten the city’s power brokers.
    Attica Locke: Black Water Rising
    Wednesday, March 21, 2012
    Plaza Branch

    Attica Locke discusses her novel Black Water Rising, set in Houston in the early 1980s. Former campus radical Jay Porter is now a lawyer running his practice out of a dingy strip mall. When he saves a woman from drowning, his act of heroism inadvertently opens a Pandora’s box of dangerous secrets that threaten the city’s corporate power brokers and place Jay at the center of a murder investigation.

  • Historian James N. Giglio reveals the latest research on Kennedy’s Presidency, from his deft handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis to his health problems and destructive sexual obsessions.
    James N. Giglio: John F. Kennedy
    Tuesday, March 20, 2012
    Plaza Branch

    James N. Giglio describes John F. Kennedy as “the most medicated, one of the most courageous, and perhaps the most self-absorbed of our presidents.” Giglio reveals the latest research on Kennedy’s presidency, from his deft handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis to his destructive sexual obsessions.

    Giglio is a distinguished professor of history at Missouri State University and author of Debating the Kennedy Presidency.

    Part of this year’s series on the U.S. presidency.

  • Landon Rowland examines the railroad-building efforts of Arthur Stilwell, which allowed Kansas City to enter the 20th century as one of the nation's most important transportation hubs.
    Landon Rowland: The Role of Railroads in Kansas City’s Development
    Sunday, March 18, 2012
    Central Library

    Landon Rowland discusses the achievements of 19th century railroad developer Arthur Stilwell, who forever changed the Kansas City area’s business landscape with an ambitious program of railroad construction that made the region an important transportation hub. This is the centennial year of Stilwell’s retirement – a year in which the Google Fiber network, a different kind of economic game-changer, arrives in Kansas City.

    Rowland is the former president and chief executive officer of Kansas City Southern Industries and chairman emeritus of the Janus Capital Group.

  • Carol Inge Hockett examines how artists reacted to the horrors of World War I with the Dada movement that rejected the old norms and paved the way for modern art.
    Carol Inge Hockett: WWI, Dada, and the Birth of the Modern
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012
    Plaza Branch

    Art educator Carol Inge Hockett examines how artists reacted to the values-shattering horrors of World War I with Dadism, an artistic/political movement that rejected the old norms of painting, literature, drama, and music. Rejecting bourgeois values, the Dadists embraced nontraditional forms such as collage, photomontage, assemblage, and “readymades” (everyday objects displayed as art).