Event Video

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  • In a discussion of his new book, Florida State University’s Wayne A. Wiegand – widely considered the “dean of American library historians” – explains why libraries remain a beloved cultural institution, defying predictions of doom.
    Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library
    Tuesday, September 22, 2015
    Central Library

    Defying dire predictions that they would not survive the turn of the millennium, public libraries continue to thrive. Two out of three Americans visit one at least once a year, and nearly that many are registered borrowers.

    In a discussion of his new book, Wayne A. Wiegand, an emeritus professor at Florida State University widely considered the “dean of American library historians,” explains why libraries remain one of the country’s most beloved cultural institutions. Not only are they places for accessing information, they’re also valued as social spaces for promoting and maintaining community. For many including Ronald Reagan, Oprah Winfrey, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, their impact has been transformative.

  • Dowling College historian Yanek Mieczkowski, the author of Eisenhower's Sputnik Moment: The Race for Space and World Prestige, discusses Ike’s calm, effective response to the Soviet Union’s inauguration of the Space Age in 1957.
    Understanding Ike: Four Key Eisenhower Traits and Their Role in the Space Race - Yanek Mieczkowski
    Thursday, September 17, 2015
    Central Library

    The Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, was a critical Cold War moment for Dwight D. Eisenhower. What he called “a small ball” became a source of Soviet pride and propaganda and wounded him politically as critics charged the American president with responding sluggishly to the challenge of space exploration.

    Dowling College historian Yanek Mieczkowski, the author of Eisenhower's Sputnik Moment: The Race for Space and World Prestige, argues otherwise. Eisenhower stayed calm and moved effectively in guiding the U.S. into the Space Age.

  • In a discussion of his new book, University of Kansas history professor Paul Kelton reveals the full story of how North America’s indigenous peoples were devastated by smallpox and other European-introduced diseases.
    Cherokee Medicine, Colonial Germs - Paul Kelton
    Thursday, September 10, 2015
    Central Library

    Historians have long pointed to the devastation of smallpox and other European-introduced diseases in tracing the demise of North America’s indigenous peoples. Lacking antibodies, hundreds of thousands of Native Americans died. Control of the New World swung to its white colonists.

    But that’s a convenient and incomplete story, says University of Kansas history professor Paul Kelton. Yes, there were epidemics. But in a discussion of his new book Cherokee Medicine, Colonial Germs: An Indigenous Nation’s Fight against Smallpox, 1518–1824, he maintains that scholars have overlooked how colonialism’s violence set the stage for Natives’ depopulation, curtailing their ability to protect themselves from infection, impeding recovery, and exacerbating mortality.

  • Historian Jo Ann Trogdon discusses her new book, the first offering evidence that explorer William Clark – of Lewis and Clark fame – may have been involved in a series of treasonous plots dubbed the “Spanish Conspiracy.”
    The Unknown Travels and Dubious Pursuits of William Clark
    Wednesday, August 5, 2015
    Central Library

    History books cast William Clark as a wilderness-braving, 1800s action hero, a partner with Meriwether Lewis in the nearly two-and-a-half-year exploratory expedition that cleared the way for America’s westward expansion. But his ledger entries reveal another, less gallant side.

    In a discussion of her new book, historian Jo Ann Trogdon examines Clark’s activities more than five years before his epic journey and presents evidence—gleaned from her examination of his leather-trimmed journal—that links him to a series of treasonous plots dubbed the “Spanish Conspiracy.” It involved corrupt officials who sought to line their pockets with Spanish money and convince American frontier settlers along the Mississippi River to break away from the U.S.

  • Myths persist about the 1952 presidential race, starting with the notion that both Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson ran reluctantly. Historian John Robert Greene sets the record straight, examining two adversaries who coveted the White House and shrewdly pursued it.
    Liking Ike and Adlai: New Thoughts on the 1952 Presidential Election - John Robert Greene
    Tuesday, August 4, 2015
    Plaza Branch

    Presidential races are the stuff of myth, sometimes literally. Like the 1952 contest between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson, both purportedly reluctant candidates who were somewhat out of touch with their campaigns.

    Cazenovia College history professor and presidential scholar John Robert Greene, author of The Crusade: The Presidential Election of 1952, sets the record straight in a discussion of the race ultimately won decisively by Eisenhower. The myth makers, he maintains, underrate the political shrewdness of the two men, each of whom wanted to win and recognized that voters were more receptive to a candidate who was “above politics.”

  • In a discussion of his new book, Jack Cashill documents what he calls an unfortunate mutation in America's liberal tradition, namely the unholy rise of neo-puritanism. Its adherents show less interest in celebrating the many colors of the multicultural rainbow than they do in condemning those who resist the celebration.
    Scarlet Letters: The Ever Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism
    Thursday, July 30, 2015
    Central Library

    Author Jack Cashill discusses his new book, Scarlet Letters: The Ever Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism and documents what he calls an unfortunate mutation in America's liberal tradition, namely the unholy rise of neo-puritanism.

    Cashill argues that progressive neo-puritans show less interest in celebrating the many colors of the multicultural rainbow than they do in condemning those who resist the celebration. The accusers insist, he says, that resistance is born out of hatred – of blacks, of gays, of immigrants, of Muslims, of women, of poor people, even, yes, of mother earth. “Hate” stands as the umbrella sin for all dissenters.

  • Kansas City civil rights activist Alvin Sykes and former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn discuss their roles in the ground-breaking cold-case bill of 2008. Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, initially opposed it; but Sykes convinced him to change his mind, opening the door to passage.
    The Power of Dialogue: How It Led to the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act
    Thursday, July 23, 2015
    Central Library

    Kansas City civil rights activist Alvin Sykes first encountered former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn in 2007, when Coburn was stalling the Sykes-backed Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act.

    Sykes sought and got a meeting. The two men talked. And Coburn dropped his opposition, opening the door to the Till Bill’s passage in September 2008. He paid tribute to Sykes as a difference-maker on the Senate floor.

    Coburn left office at the end of last year. He and Sykes, who educated himself and still does much of his research in local libraries, recall their history and Sykes’ lifelong work in a public discussion moderated by Library Director Crosby Kemper III. The event is part of the Library’s Scholar-in-Residence Lecture Series.

  • On the heels of the announcement of a new 800-room Hyatt hotel that officials hope will boost Kansas City’s convention prospects, Heywood T. Sanders discusses his book on how a nationwide surge in convention- related development has delivered only limited returns.
    Convention Center Follies - Heywood T. Sanders
    Wednesday, July 22, 2015
    Central Library

    Can a recently announced, 800-room Hyatt hotel, scheduled to open in 2018, boost Kansas City’s convention prospects when it opens? The city has invested heavily in its downtown convention center – from Bartle Hall’s $144 million expansion in the 1990s to a $150 million upgrade completed in 2007 – and yet business has lagged.

    Heywood T. Sanders, one of the country’s foremost experts on urban development, notes that KC is not alone. In a discussion of his book, Convention Center Follies: Politics, Power, and Public Investment in American Cities, he notes a nationwide surge in convention center development in the past two decades amid promises of new jobs, private development, and tax revenues. In Boston, Orlando, and elsewhere, the returns have similarly been limited. So why does the building continue?

    Sanders is a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

  • Marking the 75th anniversary of France’s fall to Nazi Germany in May and June 1940, Mark Gerges of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth examines what led to the defeat and the myths that still surround it.
    The Fall of France - Mark Gerges
    Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Central Library

    Nazi Germany’s defeat of France in May and June 1940 stunned the world. How could the French, the dominant military power of the First World War, collapse so rapidly in the opening stages of World War II? Was it Germany’s boldness, advanced tank technology, and modern doctrine? Or did France’s internal societal weaknesses lead to the Third Republic’s humiliating end?

    Marking the 75th anniversary of the fall of France, Mark Gerges of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth examines the key military actions of this critical period as well as the myths that continue to surround this momentous French defeat.

  • In a discussion of his new book Popular Economics: What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You About Economics, Forbes magazine’s John Tamny takes a comprehensible, real-world look at how money works – and how he says it should work.
    Popular Economics - John Tamny
    Thursday, June 25, 2015
    Central Library

    Economics needn’t be shrouded in byzantine theory and mathematical formulas. In a discussion of his new book Popular Economics: What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You About Economics, Forbes magazine editor John Tamny takes a clear, comprehensible, real-world look at how money works – and how he says it should work.

    Tamny, also managing editor of the website RealClearMarkets and a senior economic advisor to the Toreador Research and Trading investment management firm, draws from movies, sports, pop culture, and marquee businesses. The Rolling Stones, football’s Dallas Cowboys, and celebutante Paris Hilton are examples of good and bad tax policy. The Godfather, Gone with the Wind, and The Sopranos illustrate the downside of antitrust regulation.

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