Event Video

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  • William Least Heat-Moon discusses his new book which chronicles the writing of his 1982 best-seller, Blue Highways, the story of his travels through back-road America.
    Writing Blue Highways: The Story of How a Book Happened
    Wednesday, May 28, 2014
    Central Library

    In 1982-83, William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways, a chronicle of traveling America’s back roads, spent 42 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list.

    Thirty years after his 14,000-mile, 38-state journey, Least Heat-Moon re-examines the making of the book in a discussion of Writing Blue Highways: The Story of How a Book Happened. He reflects on the stops and starts in his composition process, the numerous drafts and painstaking revisions, and the depressing string of rejections by publishers.

  • Historian Pellom McDaniels III discusses his biography of the African-American jockey who was the most popular athlete of the 19th century and whose 44-percent win rate has never been matched.
    Prince of Jockeys: The Life of Isaac Burns Murphy
    Tuesday, May 27, 2014
    Central Library

    Less than two weeks before Victor Espinoza tries to guide California Chrome to a Triple Crown-clinching victory in horse racing’s Belmont Stakes, Emory University professor Pellom McDaniels III looks back at a man who, more than a century earlier, set the standard of excellence for all jockeys. Isaac Burns Murphy was the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times, and his 44 percent overall win rate — nearly three times higher than Espinoza’s — remains unmatched. He was the highest-paid U.S. athlete of his time. And he happened to be African American.

    McDaniels, a former Kansas City Chiefs lineman who now is faculty curator of African American collections at Emory, discusses his new biography of Murphy, whose life spanned the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the adoption of Jim Crow legislation. Before dying in 1896 at age 34, Murphy became an important figure not only in sports but also in the social, political, and cultural consciousness of African Americans.

  • John Nichols discusses his expose of fabulously wealthy individuals and corporations who he says are co-opting America’s political life in a way that could signal the end of our democracy.
    Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America
    Thursday, May 22, 2014
    Central Library

    Incredibly wealthy individuals and corporations are radically redefining our electoral process in a way that, failing a dramatic intervention, signals the end of our democracy.

    That’s the alarm raised by John Nichols in a discussion of his new exposé (co-written with Robert McChesney) of pay-to-play billionaires, election-buying corporations, activist judges who advance their agendas, and the media conglomerates that have blown off journalism for the sake of political advertising.

  • Best-selling urban fiction writer Kimberla Lawson Roby discusses and reads from her newest novel; the latest installment in her series based on the life of the Rev. Curtis Black.
    The Prodigal Son - Kimberla Lawson Roby
    Wednesday, May 21, 2014
    Central Library

    Best-selling urban fiction author Kimberla Lawson Roby discusses and reads from the latest novel in her popular series about the Rev. Curtis Black and his frequently dysfunctional family. Here the Reverend tries to win back his estranged son Matthew while dealing with long-hidden offspring Dillon, the result of a youthful dalliance.

    Roby self-published her first book 17 years ago. She has written almost two dozen novels, among them The Perfect Marriage, Be Careful What You Pray For, Changing Faces, and Casting the First Stone. She is the winner of a 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work - Fiction.

  • The U.S. Army Command and General Staff College’s Louis DiMarco explains how the Battle of Yellow Tavern in May 1864 changed the role of cavalry in the Civil War from one of reconnaissance to active participation in battle.
    The Cavalry of the American Civil War
    Thursday, May 15, 2014
    Central Library

    For most of the Civil War, the role of cavalry was limited to reconnaissance and screening infantry movements. But at the Battle of Yellow Tavern (Virginia) on May 11, 1864, a mounted federal force defeated the legendary rebel cavalry of J.E.B. Stuart, who was mortally wounded and died a day later. The North realized that cavalry could be an essential offensive tool.

    Observing the 150th anniversary of the battle, Louis DiMarco of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth examines the role of mounted combat in the Civil War.

  • National Book Critics Circle Award winner and 2014 Pulitzer Prize finalist Leo Damrosch explores the enigmatic man behind Gulliver’s Travels and explains why the public version of Jonathan Swift’s life — the one accepted until recently — was deliberately misleading.
    Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World
    Wednesday, May 14, 2014
    Central Library

    Jonathan Swift is known today as the author of Gulliver’s Travels, the classic satiric fantasy. But during his lifetime, Swift was famous as a major political and religious figure and as a national hero who fiercely protested English exploitation of his native Ireland.

    In a discussion of his new book, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography, Harvard’s Leo Damrosch shows how Swift’s public version of his life — the one accepted until recently — was deliberately misleading.

  • As he prepares to repeat his solo canoe trip down the Mississippi, author Eddy Harris discusses his first trip 30 years ago and the changes the intervening years have wrought – on the river, on the country, and on himself.
    An Old Black Man Meets Old Man River
    Tuesday, May 13, 2014
    Plaza Branch

    Thirty years ago Eddy Harris took a solo canoe trip down the Mississippi River. The result was the acclaimed Mississippi Solo: A River Quest.

    As he prepares a second journey down the big river, Harris discusses his past and present and the changes the intervening years have wrought — on the river, on the country, and on himself.

    Harris’ penetrating accounts of his travels — among them Native Stranger and Still Life in Harlem — center on his own identity and the identity of blacks in general, and how places either embrace or alienate black culture.

  • Doug Dorst discusses the creation of S., a layered literary mystery in which the story on the printed page dovetails with the scribblings in the margins and the various objects – photos, maps, telegrams, postcards, letters – found between the pages.
    S. - Doug Dorst
    Thursday, May 8, 2014
    Central Library

    A writer and a filmmaker join creative forces to craft a unique work that can only be read the old-fashioned way, by turning the pages. A layered literary mystery, S. uses the story of a nameless man without a memory to tell another story of two college students’ romance and their life-threatening pursuit of an author’s carefully hidden secret identity.

    In a conversation with Kaite Stover, the Library’s director of readers’ services, Doug Dorst explains how he and co-creator J.J. Abrams (TV’s Lost and Alias) conceived of and created S., in which the story on the printed page dovetails with the scribblings of two readers in the margins and the various objects — photos, maps, telegrams, postcards, letters — found hidden between those pages.

  • Seventy-five years ago, on April 30, 1939, amid the billowing clouds of lingering economic depression and imminent war, the New York World’s Fair heralded “The Dawn of a New Day.” Historian Robert Rydell discusses that landmark event.
    The New York World’s Fair and the "Dawn of a New Day"
    Wednesday, April 30, 2014
    Central Library

    Seventy-five years ago, on April 30, 1939, amidst the billowing clouds of lingering economic depression and imminent war, the New York World’s Fair, with its sleek modernist designs, heralded “The Dawn of a New Day” and promised a better “World of Tomorrow.”

    Why, with the American economy still in the doldrums and the rest of the world seemingly hell-bent on going to war, did millions of Americans flock to, of all things, a world’s fair?

    Robert Rydell, professor of history at Montana State University and a leading scholar on the history of world’s fairs, explains why it is important to remember the New York World’s Fair, most especially for understanding how it shaped our world of today.

  • In a discussion of his new book, Stanford University’s Ian Morris takes the provocative position that despite its horrors, armed conflict has made humanity both safer and richer.
    War! What Is It Good For? Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robot
    Tuesday, April 29, 2014
    Central Library

    “War! What is it good for?” Motown singer Edwin Starr asked in his 1969 hit record. The musical answer: “Absolutely nothing.”

    But in a discussion of his erudite new history of war, Stanford University’s Ian Morris takes the provocative position that, despite its horrors, armed conflict has made humanity both safer and richer. From the aggressive instincts of chimpanzees and early “protohumans” to ancient civilizations and the “American Empire,” he looks at war and notes that in terms of lives lost (as a percentage of national population), its impact has lessened while the long-term effects have been “productive.”