Previous Special Events

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jen Mann is, first, a suburban Johnson County, Kansas, wife and mother of two and, second, a witty, biting writer whose blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat, has garnered a national following. Featured on The Huffington Post, the young parents’ online magazine Babble, and cable television’s Headline News, she has been described as Erma Bombeck – with f-bombs.

Mann appears at the Library to launch her new book, People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges, a laugh-out-loud collection of essays on suburban life, marriage, and motherhood. Subjects range from the politics of joining a play group to the thrill of a moms’ night out at the gun range.


Friday, September 5, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Kansas City-area performer Rockin Rob has been delighting and educating young audiences for more than 15 years.

The Kansas City-area performer employs music, movement, and magic in promoting creativity, teamwork, discipline, and self-expression. You’ll clap your hands, stomp your feet, sing, dance – and learn.

Geared to 2- to 8-year-olds but appropriate for all ages.


Thursday, September 4, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

The year 2012 was a watershed for the Hollywood movie industry, producing the likes of Silver Linings Playbook, Les Misérables, Lincoln, and Argo and delivering a record-breaking box office after two years of decline. But not everything was rosy. DVD sales continued to decline, production costs soared, and the digital revolution was forcing the industry to rethink how it made and marketed films.

Journalist Anne Thompson joins the Library’s Kaite Stover and UMKC film professor Mitch Brian for a public conversation based on Thompson’s new book, The $11 Billion Year, a chronicle of that landmark year at the movies.

Thompson writes the Thompson on Hollywood blog at Indiewire.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Two hundred years ago this month, during the War of 1812, the United States was in desperate straits. British forces had burned Washington, D.C. and threatened to do the same to other Eastern seaports. The enemy chose to attack Baltimore, the nation’s fourth-largest city.

America won an improbable victory at Fort McHenry, and Baltimore was saved. Washington lawyer Francis Scott Key – inspired by the sight of his country’s flag flying in defiance of 25 hours of British bombardment – scribbled a four-stanza poem: Oh say can you see ...

His “Defence of Fort McHenry” became a popular patriotic song, “The Star Spangled Banner,” and ultimately our national anthem.

Military historian Richard Barbuto of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth discusses the battle that stirred Key and underscored America’s resolve to preserve her sovereignty.


Thursday, August 28, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Forests produce lumber, shelter a dazzling variety of plant and animal life, and serve as our planet’s lungs, cleansing the atmosphere of carbon dioxide. But we’re losing them at an alarming rate.

The Smithsonian Institution’s Stuart Davies addresses their importance to the overall health of our planet in the third installment of Conserving Our Dynamic Planet, a series featuring talks by Smithsonian scientists and co-presented by the Linda Hall Library.

Davies, a tropical ecologist with 22 years of experience working throughout the tropics, is director of the Smithsonian’s Center for Tropical Forest Science.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Two thousand years after his death, the story of the founder of the Roman Empire is one of the most riveting in western history. Caesar Augustus evolved from an entitled teenager – heir of the murdered Julius Caesar – to a skillful politician and servant of the state who brought stability and peace to Rome and created a new, emperor-run system of government.

Adrian Goldsworthy, a leading ancient historian, examines the man for whom the month of August is named in a discussion of his highly anticipated biography, Augustus: First Emperor of Rome. He digs beneath the myths, revealing the Augustus who was a consummate manipulator, propagandist, and showman, both generous and ruthless.

The author of earlier biographies of Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, among many other books, Goldsworthy is a frequent lecturer and consultant on historical documentaries produced by the History Channel, National Geographic, and the BBC.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014
6:00pm

Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St.

Twenty-three years after she riveted a nation – sitting before a microphone in a bright blue suit, calmly telling an all-male Senate committee that she once was subjected to sexual harassment by Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas – Anita Hill will appear at a Kansas City Public Library event commemorating that historic event.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Caught between the beauty of his grandchildren and grief over a friend’s death, Frank Schaeffer found himself simultaneously not believing and believing in a higher power – an atheist turning to prayer.

The bestselling author examines that conflict in a discussion of his latest book, Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes in God. Schaeffer casts himself as an imperfect son, husband, and grandfather whose love of family and art trump the ugly theologies of an angry God and the atheist’s vision of a cold, meaningless universe.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The vast U.S. intelligence operations of today have their roots in World War I, when the Army flew aerial photography missions and cracked German codes and the State Department carried out its own daring espionage missions. Back home, the military and Justice Department worked to secure the nation against spies and saboteurs – real and imaginary.

Mark Stout, who worked for 13 years as an intelligence analyst with the State Department and CIA, examines this little-known period in American history and its lasting impact.

Stout currently is director of Johns Hopkins University’s Global Security master’s program. He spent three years as historian at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The behind-the-scenes lives of African American clergymen and their families make up a major sub-genre of contemporary urban fiction. To date, most of these novels have been written by women.

Author Carl Weber offers a male point of view in books such as The Choir Director. In his latest novel, a sequel to that bestseller, title character Aaron Mackie’s nationally renowned success has him in line for a huge recording contract. But his private life comes crashing down when his fiancé leaves him at the altar with no explanation, and Mackie turns to his mentor, Bishop T.K. Wilson, for help. Unfortunately, the line Mackie asks him to cross will force the bishop to choose between friendship and faith.