Previous Special Events

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

At 7 in the morning on February 21, 1916, the ground in northern France began to shake. For the next 10 hours, some 1,200 German guns showered shells on a salient in French lines. The onslaught collapsed dugouts, obliterated trenches, severed communication wires, and drove men mad. The Battle of Verdun had begun.

Drawing from his book, Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War, Brandeis University historian Paul Jankowski looks back on what became one of history’s greatest and most demanding battlefield encounters – a 302-day nightmare that left an estimated 303,000 French and German soldiers dead and more than 400,000 wounded.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Midwest’s small towns have produced the entrepreneurial likes of Henry Ford, George Washington Carver, and Walt Disney; artists and entertainers such as Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Carl Sandburg, and Johnny Carson; and political titans William McKinley, William Jennings Bryan, and Ronald Reagan.

In a discussion of his new book, Small Town Dreams: Stories of Midwestern Boys Who Shaped America, author John E. Miller explores the lives of those and other notables and the small-town environments from which they came. In their stories, as Miller tells them, all appear in a new light – unique in their backgrounds and accomplishments, united only in the way their lives reveal the persisting, shaping power of place.


Sunday, August 10, 2014
3:00pm @ Plaza Branch

The Kansas City Opera Institute is settling into a second season of classes, workshops, and productions designed to prepare and showcase “the next generation of great performers.”

Those performers deliver a semi-staged production of Mozart’s Idomeneo, re di Creta — Italian for Idomeneo, King of Crete — a time-honored opera introduced more than 230 years earlier in Munich, Germany. Music historians suggest it might have been Mozart’s favorite work, a classic Greek myth that captures the growing tension of the social and political landscape of the late 18th century while exploring the value of a single human life.


Sunday, August 10, 2014
2:00pm @ Waldo Branch

Best-selling mystery and horror author J.A. Jance introduced Joanna Brady to readers in Desert Heat in 1993. Her fictional Arizona sheriff, first voted into office in place of her murdered husband, has since been featured in 16 more books – among a total of more than 40 that Jance has written.

On the heels of the summer releases of the latest two entries in the Joanna Brady series, The Old Blue Line: A Joanna Brady Novella and Remains of Innocence, Jance appears at the Library’s Waldo Branch for a discussion of the series.


Friday, August 8, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

In its second season, the Kansas City Opera Institute brings the most famous of the Mother Goose fairy tales, Puss in Boots, to the Library.

It’s the story of a young miller and his new pet, a remarkably smart and mischievous talking cat, which sets off to find his owner riches, romance, and true happiness. Appropriate for preschoolers and up.


Thursday, August 7, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Thrust into the nation’s highest office following Richard Nixon’s resignation, Gerald R. Ford faced the impossible task of achieving much in little time and in the face of great adversity.

Historian John Robert Greene examines the 38th president’s struggle to restore the prestige of the office — after Nixon’s misdeeds, during an ignominious departure from Vietnam, and amid Congress’ intentions to scale back presidential power — in a discussion of his book, The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Library focuses on 34-year-old Army National Guard Capt. Harry S. Truman in launching a series of programs commemorating the centennial of the start of the First World War.

D. M. Giangreco, author of The Soldier from Independence: A Military History of Harry Truman, shows how, as a field artillery battery commander in World War I, Truman already was making hard decisions that he knew to be right. He once saved a neighboring infantry regiment from a surprise German attack, only to be rebuked by his regimental commander; intervention by Gen. John J. Pershing headed off a career-killing court martial.


Saturday, August 2, 2014
4:00pm @ Plaza Branch

Eric Litwin’s Pete the Cat series has generated sales of 1.5 million books. Now, the children’s author is turning his attention to nuts – a new series of picture books, The Nuts, featuring daughter Hazel, son Wally, and mama Imma.

Litwin appears at the Library in conjunction with the release of Bedtime at the Nut House. A singer and entertainer as well as a writer, he delivers a fully interactive performance that also will highlight the beloved Pete the Cat. Appropriate for all ages.

Co-sponsored by Reading Reptile.


Friday, August 1, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Kansas City-based kid rocker Jim Cosgrove returns to the Library with a high-energy, interactive show that will get the whole family swingin’.

Appropriate for all ages.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Celebrate what would have been the 102nd birthday of Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman as Mark Skousen relates stories from his long friendship with the economist and libertarian icon.

Friedman was the intellectual architect of the free market reforms of the post-World War II era who today is recognized as the father of the Chicago school of economics and libertarian philosophy. His book, Capitalism and Freedom, has sold well over half a million copies in English and been translated into 18 languages.

Skousen, a former CIA economist, has taught at Columbia Business School, Barnard College, and Columbia University and written for Forbes magazine. He is editor in chief of the Forecasts & Strategies newsletter.