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
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
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
Former State Department and CIA intelligence analyst Mark Stout discusses the birth of modern American espionage during World War I, from aerial reconnaissance and battlefield code-breaking to the search for spies and saboteurs back home in the States.
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.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Historian Petra DeWitt examines the suspicions and hostilities faced by Missouri’s sizable German American population during World War I, including questions about loyalty and an effort to ban the German language in the state.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
The Kansas City Public Library and Cultural Crossroads will mark the opening of a new collection – The Human Spirit – with a presentation by Julian Zugazagoitia, director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Zugazagoitia’s talk, Art of the Human Spirit, addresses the ways in which art can be a manifestation of the human spirit and human experience.
The Human Spirit Collection features more than 140 books intended to enhance understanding and mutual respect among the diverse faiths, traditions, and cultures within the greater Kansas City community. It provides a central repository of multicultural and interfaith materials for educators and the public at large.
Friday, August 15, 2014
The 2014 edition of the long-running Off-the-Wall Film Series, co-presented by The Kansas City Public Library and The Pitch, features musically-themed titles from 1984.
In Repo Man, Young Otto (Emilio Estevez) gets a crash course in repossessing cars from old hand Harry Dean Stanton in this cult effort that mixes anti-social rebellion with black comedy and even a dab of science fiction. Director Alex Cox’s film isn’t technically a musical, but it has a killer soundtrack featuring Iggy Pop, Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, the Circle Jerks, and other bands your mother wouldn’t approve of. This title is Rated R and is recommended for adult audiences only.
These five films, presented on one Friday each month from May through September on the Rooftop Terrace of the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., offer a tuneful sampling of what Americans were listening to 30 years ago. Featured are such musical artists as Prince and the Talking Heads, an early cinematic celebration of break dancing, and a classic cult film noted for its innovative musical soundtrack.