Dwight Eisenhower was a man of simple tastes but decisive action. Behind the dry smile was a brilliant, intellectual tactician, an attribute—also evident at the poker table—that served to keep dozens of Cold War standoffs from flaring into full-scale war during his two terms as president.
Former Newsweek editor-at-large Evan Thomas draws from his book Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World in discussing the central Kansas war hero turned commander-in-chief, who navigated the nation through some of the most perilous times the world has known.
By the time of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, the land and people of western Missouri had suffered as much as any during the Civil War. The 1863 edict known as “Order No. 11”—forcing the evacuation of all non-rural residents of three western counties including Jackson—and the Federal army that carried it out had depopulated those counties, devastated homes and farms, and left deep scars.
Focusing on families and communities, Parkville, Missouri, author Tom Rafiner examines the scene that greeted returning residents after the Civil War on the Western Border ended. The “burnt district” took decades to heal, casting a long, dark shadow on postwar Missouri.
The Library’s summer series of outdoor movies—focusing on strangers cast into strange, through-the-looking-glass lands—kicks off with this dark fantasy classic directed by Monty Python member Terry Gilliam. A young boy joins a band of six renegade dwarves on a breakneck, time-travel trek through history, encountering an assortment of historical figures including a powerful Agamemnon (Sean Connery) and a stuffy Robin Hood (Python headliner John Cleese).
Students in the Owen/Cox Dance Group’s Take the Stage Program perform to live music alongside their teachers and mentors in the joyful Dancing in the Stacks: A Celebration of Children’s Books and Literature. Appropriate for all ages.
The Kansas City Call and its longtime editor and publisher, Lucile Bluford, epitomized the role of the African American press in the civil rights movement. The newspaper advocated forcefully for the political and economic interests of its readers, forging relationships with such key organizations as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Beneath outward displays of unity, however, were internal disagreements between the press and activist groups about what direction the fight for equality would take and, often, who should be its voice. Earnest L. Perry Jr., an associate professor of journalism at the University of Missouri, examines that struggle, what it entailed for Bluford and The Call, and the implications for today’s social justice movement.
The relationship is clear: The more books a family owns, the greater the educational gains are for children.
Mariah Evans, a sociologist at the University of Nevada-Reno, headed a 20-year, worldwide study that found “the presence of books in the home” to be the top predictor of whether a child will attain a high level of education – more significant than parents’ education, occupation, or class. On average, kids growing up amid an abundance of books get three more years of schooling than those from bookless homes.
Evans examines those findings and sits down with Library Director Crosby Kemper III for a public conversation on the issue.
The world is blowing up, seemingly confronted by a violent new crisis every day: the bloody implosion of Iraq and Syria, the East-West standoff in Ukraine, abducted schoolgirls in northern Nigeria. The common thread, Sarah Chayes says, is government corruption so pervasive that some regimes now resemble criminal gangs.
A former adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Chayes spent most of the past decade in Afghanistan. She discusses her new book Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security and the premise that structural corruption inevitably provokes resentment, prompting protests and revolts and often fueling extremist violence. The U.S., she argues, has a tendency not just to ignore such international corruption but also compound it, which in places like Afghanistan can be destabilizing and dangerous.
The Library’s ninth season of Script-in-Hand performances, featuring the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre concludes with The Light in the Piazza.
This dreamy, Tony-winning musical revolves around wealthy Margaret Johnson and her beautiful but emotionally stalled teenage daughter, Clara, who spend a summer together in the Tuscan countryside. When Clara falls in love with an earnest, dashing, and passionate young Italian, a protective Margaret must decide what to do with a secret from the girl’s past — which could take romance off the table — while confronting her own deep-seated hopes and regrets.
Tired of an unfulfilling life in Kansas City, Patrick Dobson left his job and set off on foot across the Great Plains. He arrived over two months later in Helena, Montana, then set a canoe on the Missouri River and asked the waters to carry him back home.
Dobson, who teaches American history and literature at Johnson County Community College, discusses his new book Canoeing the Great Plains: A Missouri River Summer and a journey undertaken nearly 20 years ago that proved to be transformative. Dobson learned to trust himself to the flows of the river and its stark, serenely beautiful countryside – and to a cast of characters he met along the way. They assisted the novice canoeist with portaging around dams and reservoirs, finding campsites, and other travel tasks, and they fueled his personal renewal.
Among our “greatest generation” was a succession of U.S. presidents who were informed and defined by World War II. Harry Truman, who oversaw the end of the war, credited his combat experience in World War I for his success in the Oval Office. Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush all served in World War II.
Theodore A. Wilson, emeritus professor of history at the University of Kansas, examines the impact of their experiences and the fact that, today, the connection between wartime service and the presidency is severed. If it is within the crucible of combat that great leaders are made, will 21st-century commanders-in-chief have the “right stuff?”