Event Audio

To listen to an audio recording of a previous Library special event, click the icon. The audio file will launch the media player on your computer.

The most recent recording displays at the top. The Library offers recordings only with the permission of the presenter. Please allow 7-10 days for the recording to be posted.

  • Time magazine editor-at-large David Von Drehle and Washington Post reporter David Finkel explore the shocking, riveting, unflinching, and ultimately deeply humane stories of those who must live the rest of their lives with the realities of war.
    Aftermath of the Long War: David Finkel
    Wednesday, October 16, 2013
    Central Library

    Time magazine editor-at-large David Von Drehle holds a public conversation with Washington Post reporter David Finkel on the Aftermath of the Long War, the fourth offering of the Dateline: Washington series.

    Finkel was embedded with an infantry combat team in Iraq—an experience that resulted in his book The Good Soldiers. He followed those soldiers once they returned to the States, resulting in a second volume, the just-published Thank You for Your Service.

    Finkel, a 2012 MacArthur Fellow, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for his reporting on U.S.-funded democracy efforts in Yemen.

  • Author Herbert Alan Johnson  examines the lasting impact of an 1824 decision that became a key moment in the ongoing tug-of-war for power between individual states and the federal government.
    Gibbons v. Ogden: Herbert Alan Johnson
    Tuesday, October 15, 2013
    Central Library

    Author-educator Herbert Alan Johnson explains how a lawsuit over a steamboat monopoly ultimately led to Congress gaining the power to regulate interstate commerce. Johnson is distinguished professor emeritus of law at the University of South Carolina.

    Legal Landmarks is co-presented by the Kansas City Public Library, the Truman Library Institute, and the Federal Court Historical Society. The series is funded by grants from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Legacy Fund with additional support provided by Spencer Fane Britt & Browne LLP and co-sponsored by the University Press of Kansas and the University of Kansas School of Law.

  • Former Royals great Willie Wilson discusses his 19 seasons as a Major League Baseball player, his record-setting career, and the drug conviction that might have ruined his life at the official launch of his new memoir, Inside the Park: Running the Base Path of Life.
    Inside the Park: Running the Base Path of Life
    Wednesday, October 9, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    Former Kansas City Royal Willie Wilson retired from Major League Baseball with 668 stolen bases (ranking 12th all-time) and 13 inside-the-park home runs (the most of any major leaguer playing after 1950). He was also among the first active major league players to serve jail time, having pled guilty to misdemeanor drug charges in 1983.

    Now Wilson and his co-author, former Kansas City Star sportswriter Kent Pulliam, discuss his life and career as chronicled in a new memoir.

  • Christopher Leitch moderates a panel of Kansas City residents who participated in the Bracero Program (1942-1964), which brought 300,000 Mexican laborers to the U.S. to work as farmhands and railroad workers.
    Mexican Witness
    Wednesday, October 9, 2013
    Central Library

    Between 1942 and 1964, as many as 300,000 Mexican laborers—called braceros—were employed as farmhands or railroad workers in the United States. The Bracero Program eventually became the largest guest worker program in U.S. history.

    Veterans of the Bracero Program now living in the Kansas City area discuss their experiences in this panel conversation moderated by Christopher Leitch.

    The presentation complements Bittersweet Harvest, a bilingual exhibit about the Bracero Program on display through October 27, 2013, at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

  • Former U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton joins Library director Crosby Kemper III for a public conversation about his new memoir which chronicles Skelton’s life from his boyhood and a bout with polio to his ascent to the powerful chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee.
    True Life, True Grit: Achieve the Honorable
    Tuesday, October 8, 2013
    Central Library

    Former U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton discusses his new memoir Achieve the Honorable in a public conversation with library director Crosby Kemper III.

    Achieve the Honorable is the story of how Skelton, a native of Lexington, Missouri, overcame boyhood polio to launch a career on Capitol Hill. Along the way, the book provides glimpses into the lives of political titans like Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton, and treats readers to Skelton’s engaging humor and shrewd political insight.

  • Drawing from his definitive biography Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg looks at the president who was one of the past century’s most influential – and enigmatic – figures.
    Woodrow Wilson - A. Scott Berg
    Thursday, October 3, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    A century after his inauguration, President Woodrow Wilson remains among the most influential figures of the 20th century—and one of the most enigmatic. Now, after more than a decade of research and writing, A. Scott Berg discusses his definitive biography Wilson, which looks not only at this leader’s public life but also his private passions.

    Berg is a winner of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

  • Musician Jeff Harshbarger – accompanied by his band The Revisionists — discusses and performs new and traditional songs reflecting the historic era in which True Grit unfolds.
    The Sound of True Grit: Music Inspired by the Novel
    Wednesday, October 2, 2013
    Plaza Branch


    Television and movie audiences have grown familiar with the cattle-driving, staccato, and triumphant theme music at the beginning of nearly every Western film or television program. Yet for their 2010 remake of True Grit, the Coen brothers employed somber and contemplative bluegrass and folk-inspired music.

    Navigating the gap between the rousing pomp of earlier Westerns and the more subdued soundtrack featured in the Coen brothers’ 2010 True Grit remake, Kansas City musician Jeff Harshbarger performs original songs inspired by the historic era in which the film unfolds. With his band The Revisionists he performs both new and familiar tunes keyed to the novel’s setting.

  • In the first of two True Life/True Grit programs, Bambi Nancy Shen discusses her memoir about her birth in Saigon, her childhood in a Japanese concentration camp, and her life of survival at the crossroads of world events.
    True Life, True Grit: The Uncrushable Rose
    Sunday, September 29, 2013
    Central Library

    True grit doesn’t simply exist only in the Old West.

    In her memoir Bambi Nancy Shen reflects on her birth in Saigon, her childhood in a Japanese concentration camp, and her life of survival at the crossroads of world events: WWII, the Chinese Civil War, and the Vietnam War. She struggled with her mother’s disappointment that Shen was born female, moved to the United States to study, and twice entered marriages that reflected her low self-esteem. But by discovering her personal strengths Shen became a model of contemporary true grit.

    Shen is a Kansas City businesswoman, author, teacher, international tour director, public speaker, interpreter, and co-founder of a nonprofit charitable organization.

  • Scholar Tom Averill of Washburn University examines how the novel True Grit depicts the American West and the characteristics that unite all great Western stories.
    True Grit as True Grist for Exploration of the Western Novel
    Wednesday, September 25, 2013
    Central Library


    The Old West occupies a relatively short era in American history, and it is in that colorful period that Charles Portis’ True Grit unfolds. To get the ball rolling on this year’s Big Read, scholar Tom Averill examines how the novel depicts those years and the characteristics that unite all Westerns – among them coming-of-age stories and themes of diversity and racism, violence and genocide, and justice.

    Averill is a professor of English at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, where he is writer-in-residence. He is author of three novels: rode, Secrets of the Tsil Café, and The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson. He has received the O. Henry Award for his short story collections.

  • KCPT’s Nick Haines emcees this program featuring adult students from Literacy Kansas City who share their stories and local authors who talk about the power of reading.
    The Power of Reading: A Celebration of the Written Word
    Thursday, September 19, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    An estimated 225,000 adults in Kansas City are denied some of the simplest and most important moments in life because they cannot read.

    To celebrate the joy of literacy the Library hosts the fifth annual Power of Reading: A Celebration of the Written Word. KCPT’s Nick Haines emcees. Adult students from Literacy Kansas City share their stories. And local writers – among them The Recipe (featuring Theodore “Priest” Hughes and Desmond “337” Jones), Chato Villalobos, Grace Suh, and Judith Fertig - discuss the power of reading in their lives.