Event Video

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  • 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.
    Intelligence and Espionage During World War I - Mark Stout
    Wednesday, August 20, 2014
    Central Library

    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.

  •  In a discussion of his book, The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford, historian John Robert Greene examines Ford’s struggle to restore the prestige of the office amid a host of challenges – starting with the lingering distaste of Richard Nixon’s resignation.
    Gerald R. Ford - John Robert Greene
    Thursday, August 7, 2014
    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.

  • Celebrate what would have been the 102nd birthday of Nobel Prize-winner Milton Friedman as Mark Skousen relates stories from his long friendship with his fellow economist and libertarian icon.
    Milton's Paradise: My Friendly Fights with Milton Friedman
    Thursday, July 31, 2014
    Central Library

    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.

  • Thomas W. Devine discusses his book about the presidential candidate who was ahead of his time on many issues – including civil rights and universal government health insurance – but was branded a Communist dupe.
    Henry Wallace's 1948 Presidential Campaign and the Future of Postwar Liberalism
    Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    Plaza Branch

    Progressive Henry Wallace ran for president in 1948 on a platform that advocated an end to the Cold War (he thought domestic fascism was more dangerous than any threat from the USSR), a stop to racial segregation, full voting rights for blacks, and universal government health insurance. On many issues, he was decades ahead of his time.

    Yet Wallace could not shake his label as a Communist dupe. As Thomas W. Devine points out in a discussion of his book — winner of the Harry S. Truman Book Award — this was an issue that would trouble progressive and liberal politicians for decades to come.

  • Former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes tells the stories of women who worked to bring down “Boss” Tom Pendergast’s political machine in the late 1930s and early ’40s, helping to end 20 years of mob rule in the city.
    Civic Housekeepers and More: Kansas City Women v. Pendergast
    Sunday, July 20, 2014
    Central Library

    In the 1920s and '30s, Kansas City was defined by the corruption of the political machine run by “Boss” Tom Pendergast. But the machine finally was brought down, in no small part through the efforts of reform-minded women.

    Former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes tells the story of these “civic housekeepers” whose fight came to a dramatic conclusion with the ballot-box victories of 1940, Pendergast’s imprisonment in the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, and the smashing of machine-mob rule.

    Barnes, currently a nontraditional student at the University of Kansas, served two terms (1997-2007) as the first woman mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. One of the first two women on the Jackson County Legislature, she was elected to the Kansas City City Council in 1979.

    She is currently Park University’s Distinguished Professor of Public Leadership and Founding Director of the Center for Leadership, where she teaches in the MPA program, provides leadership coaching, workshops and leadership training. She joined Park immediately following her successful terms as mayor in May 2007.

  • Fifty years to the day after Barry Goldwater accepted the Republican nomination for president, environmental historian Brian Drake examines the seeming contradictions that led this icon of anti-government conservatism to embrace a lifelong commitment to environmental protection.
    Barry Goldwater: Conscience of a Conservationist
    Wednesday, July 16, 2014
    Central Library

    Half a century after Barry Goldwater ran for president as the 1964 Republican candidate, the late five-term U.S. Senator from Arizona remains an icon of American conservatism – and emblematic of the right’s deep mistrust of activist government and liberal-leaning reform movements.

    But “Mr. Conservative” also had a lifelong interest in and commitment to environmental protection.

    Fifty years to the day that Goldwater accepted his party’s presidential nomination, environmental historian Brian Allen Drake discusses Goldwater’s latent green streak and how it influenced all aspects of his life. Drake’s presentation recalls a time when environmental issues could cross partisan borders and attract the seemingly unlikeliest of champions, and suggests that today's deep political divisions need not be impassable ones.

  • Bestselling urban fiction writer Victoria Christopher Murray discusses and reads from her novel about three friends whose stable lives are thrown into chaos by the reappearances of their former husbands and lovers.
    Forever an Ex - Victoria Christopher Murray
    Wednesday, June 25, 2014
    Central Library

    Best-selling urban fiction author Victoria Christopher Murray discusses and reads from her novel about three friends whose stable lives are thrown into chaos by the reappearances of their former husbands and lovers. It’s a yarn that, in the words of The Washington Post, “has the kind of momentum that prompts you to elbow disbelief aside and flip the pages in horrified enjoyment.”

    Among Murray’s novels are Scandalous, Destiny’s Divas, Sins of the Mother, and Temptation. She is the co-author (with ReShonda Tate Billingsley) of the “First Ladies” series of novels about rival preachers’ wives.

  • As Scottish voters approach a fall referendum on leaving the United Kingdom, military historian Tony Mullis looks back on the country’s earlier, bloodier struggle for independence and a pivotal battle exactly 700 years ago.
    The Battle of Bannockburn - Tony Mullis
    Tuesday, June 24, 2014
    Central Library

    As Scottish voters prepare for this autumn’s national referendum on leaving the United Kingdom, military historian Tony Mullis looks back on the country’s earlier, bloodier struggle for independence and a pivotal battle exactly 700 years ago.

    In 1314, English King Edward II led an army north to quell the rebellious Scots and their king, Robert Bruce. At the Battle of Bannockburn on June 24, 1314, the Scots prevailed despite being outnumbered 2-1, forcing the English to formally concede Scotland’s independence.

    A frequent speaker at the Library, Mullis is a professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.

  • Fred Kaplan discusses his new biography of one of America’s most wrongly overlooked presidents, a leading abolitionist, fervent Federalist, and a leader of sweeping perspective whose progressive values helped shape the course of the nation.
    John Quincy Adams - Fred Kaplan
    Wednesday, June 18, 2014
    Plaza Branch

    John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) is among the most overlooked presidents in U.S. history even though his progressive values helped shape the course of the nation.

    In a discussion of his new book, John Quincy Adams: American Visionary, Fred Kaplan sheds light on a leading abolitionist and fervent Federalist who championed both individual liberty and the government’s role in driving progress and prosperity. Adams’ forward-thinking values, definition of leadership, and vision for the future are as much about 21st century America as his own time.

    This event is part of the Hail to the Chiefs series co-presented by the Truman Library Institute and made possible by a Legacy Fund grant by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

  • Foreign policy strategist and American diplomat George F. Kennan kept journals that covered a staggering 88 years. Historian Frank Costigliola, who has edited Kennan’s writings into a reader-friendly volume, examines this trove of ideas, anecdotes, and essays.
    The Kennan Diaries - Frank Costigliola
    Tuesday, June 17, 2014
    Central Library

    George F. Kennan (1904-2005) was America’s most respected foreign policy thinker of the 20th century, a man who advised presidents, raised alarms about the Soviet Union’s intentions, and outlined the policy of “containment” that guided U.S. strategy during the Cold War.

    Through most of his life, Kennan kept journals that covered a staggering 88 years in more than 8,000 pages. Historian Frank Costigliola has edited them into a more reader-friendly volume, The Kennan Diaries, and will examine this trove of ideas, anecdotes, and essays in a discussion at the Central Library.

    Costigliola is professor of history at the University of Connecticut.