Seventy-five years ago, on April 30, 1939, amidst the billowing clouds of lingering economic depression and imminent war, the New York World’s Fair, with its sleek modernist designs, heralded “The Dawn of a New Day” and promised a better “World of Tomorrow.”
Why, with the American economy still in the doldrums and the rest of the world seemingly hell-bent on going to war, did millions of Americans flock to, of all things, a world’s fair?
Robert Rydell, professor of history at Montana State University and a leading scholar on the history of world’s fairs, explains why it is important to remember the New York World’s Fair, most especially for understanding how it shaped our world of today.
“War! What is it good for?” Motown singer Edwin Starr asked in his 1969 hit record. The musical answer: “Absolutely nothing.”
But in a discussion of his erudite new history of war, Stanford University’s Ian Morris takes the provocative position that, despite its horrors, armed conflict has made humanity both safer and richer. From the aggressive instincts of chimpanzees and early “protohumans” to ancient civilizations and the “American Empire,” he looks at war and notes that in terms of lives lost (as a percentage of national population), its impact has lessened while the long-term effects have been “productive.”
The 1876 raid by the James-Younger gang on Northfield, Minnesota, may be the most famous bank robbery in history.
Recognizing what was happening, citizens armed themselves. Leaving the bank, the outlaws ran into a devastating hail of bullets. Two died in the street. The survivors, several badly wounded, fled Northfield, setting off one of the Old West’s most extensive manhunts.
In a discussion of his new book, Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape, Western historian, writer, and musician Mark Lee Gardner recreates this bloody, desperate episode. With compelling details that chronicle the two-week chase that followed — the near misses, fateful mistakes, and final shootout on the Watonwan River — Gardner delivers a galloping, true tale of frontier justice.
If only we could strike it rich, then our problems would be over. Right? Not according to John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which demonstrates that with newfound wealth comes plenty of bad baggage: bloodthirsty bandits, betrayal, and madness. Shot almost entirely in Mexico (one of the first Hollywood movies made on a foreign location) and oozing authenticity with every frame, this superb adventure won two Oscars for John Huston (directing and screenplay) and another (supporting actor) for his father – the only such father-son win in Academy history.
The Kansas City Public Library plays host to the annual Missouri 5th Congressional District student art exhibit and town hall gathering, where U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II and his wife, Dianne Cleaver, will recognize local high school artists.
All submissions will be on display at the Central Library from April 22-28, 2014. One will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., for a year, an honor that went to a Lee’s Summit North High School student in 2013.
Mary Roach, designated as “America’s funniest science writer” by The Washington Post, takes us on a tour of the alimentary canal, that much-maligned tube from mouth to rear.
In a public conversation with Kaite Stover, the Library’s director of readers’ services, Roach will discuss her latest book and ask questions others fear: How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? Can wine tasters really tell a $10 bottle from a $100 bottle? Why is crunchy food so appealing? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? She examines a pet food taste-test lab and delves into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal.
Roach is the best-selling author of Stiff (about the human body after death), Bonk (the science of sex), and Spook (the afterlife).
Kansas City author and Writers at Work series organizer Whitney Terrell conducts a public conversation with investigative reporter Christopher Leonard about his new book, the first-ever account of how a handful of companies have seized the nation’s meat supply. They raise meat prices for consumers, he maintains, while pushing down the price they pay to farmers and derailing efforts to improve the system.
Leonard is a former business reporter with the Associated Press and a fellow with the New America Foundation.
For decades, the fictional world of superheroes was dominated by male characters. Wonder Woman was the only female with any real clout.
Filmmaker Kristy Guevara-Flanagan presents and leads a discussion of her feature documentary exploring the concept of heroic women from the birth of superheroes in the 1940s to the TV and big screen action blockbusters of today. Actresses Lynda (Wonder Woman) Carter and Lindsay (The Bionic Woman) Wagner, feminist Gloria Steinem, and punk rocker Kathleen Hanna are among those interviewed in the film.
Presented by the University of Missouri-Kansas City Women’s Center.
After months of contentious debate, the Missouri State Board of Education has finalized a plan to address the state’s unaccredited school districts. Squarely in its sights is the Kansas City, Missouri School District, which has been operating without state accreditation since 2012. Coupled with a school transfer law set to go into effect this summer, the impact on the beleaguered Kansas City district could be immense. But just as enormous is the ripple effect these two events could have on neighboring districts throughout the metro.
The implications of these developments are explored by KCPT-TV‘s Nick Haines and a panel of experts including Chris Nicastro, Missouri education commissioner; Stephen Green, superintendent of the Kansas City Public Schools; state Sen. David Pearce, chair of Missouri Senate Education Committee; John Martin, Missouri State Board of Education; and Missouri State Senator Jason Holsman.