Event Video

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  • Before and after it made military history, becoming the first submarine to sink an enemy warship, the Confederate-flagged H.L. Hunley was beset by tragedy. Historian James L. Speicher tells her story.
    The H.L. Hunley and Her Crews
    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    Central Library

    What was termed the last Confederate funeral took place exactly 10 years ago — the burial of eight crew members of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley. The 25-foot underwater craft was raised from the sea floor outside Charleston, South Carolina, a little more than 136 years after becoming the first sub to sink an enemy warship and then mysteriously going down itself.

    The Hunley had exacted a heavy toll before that, seeing 13 crew members perish during training exercises and acquiring the nickname the Peripatetic Coffin.

    Historian James L. Speicher, formerly a military science professor at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, recounts the alternately fascinating and tragic stories of the historic vessel and the lost souls who served her.

  • In a discussion of his new book, Dean Starkman exposes the failure of America’s business press to cover the systemic corruption in the financial industry and other events leading up to the 2008 financial collapse.
    The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism
    Wednesday, April 16, 2014
    Central Library

    Does the 2008 financial collapse lie at least in part at journalists’ feet?

    Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Dean Starkman, formerly of The Wall Street Journal, exposes the critical failure of America’s business press to cover the systemic corruption in the financial industry and other events leading up to the 2008 economic meltdown.

    He maintains that deep cultural and structural shifts — some unavoidable, some self-inflicted — eroded journalism’s appetite for its role as watchdog, and the result was a deafening silence about questionable, even dishonest practices. Tragically, that silence grew more profound as the mortgage madness reached its apogee from 2004-06.

  • Florida State University’s Darrin McMahon recounts the lives of civilization’s true masterminds in the first comprehensive history of the elusive concept of genius.
    Divine Fury: A History of Genius
    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    Central Library

    The concept of genius is a bit cheapened today, invoked too easily in assessments of football coaches, rock musicians, and savvy market traders. But history’s true masterminds — the Michelangelos, da Vincis, Shakespeares, and Einsteins — still inspire awe and a hint of mystery, a sense that these men have had almost otherworldly power to divine the secrets of the universe, to create, even to destroy.

    Darrin McMahon, the Ben Weider Professor of History at Florida State University, details their stories in a discussion of his book, the first comprehensive history of the elusive concept of genius and how it has evolved over the centuries.

  • For too long, says author Zachary Karabell, we’ve adhered to outdated statistics for measuring economic health. Why follow a ’50s road map in the 21st century when newer, more useful guides are available?
    The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World
    Thursday, April 10, 2014
    Central Library

    We’re bombarded with numbers that purport to tell us how our economy is doing and where it is headed. Statistics on unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence guide our actions, yet few know where they come from or what they mean.

    In a discussion of his new book, Zachary Karabell explores these indicators — born of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War — and the need to tap into a modern data revolution that makes far more useful information available. If you want to buy a home, look for a job, start a company, or run a business, you can formulate your own, more localized and meaningful indicators at the click of a button.

  • Time magazine editor-at-large David Von Drehle and RealClearPolitics’ Carl Cannon discuss Hillary Clinton’s likely Democatic nomination for president in 2016 – and her prospects of winning the general election in November.
    Can Anyone Stop Her? - Carl Cannon
    Wednesday, April 9, 2014
    Central Library

    Remember Barack Obama’s subtle 2008 putdown of Hillary Clinton, when he called her “likable enough?” Maybe the joke is on him.

    Not since Ronald Reagan remade the Republican Party in his own image in 1980 has a presidential nomination seemed as inevitable as it does for 2016. The Democratic Party appears settled on Clinton. Her likability rating has climbed in four years, and Democrats are more united than Republicans were in 1980 (or are today). The GOP, meanwhile, lacks a true frontrunner.

    Time magazine editor-at-large David Von Drehle and RealClearPolitics’ Washington bureau chief, Carl Cannon, examine the race and likelihood that the U.S. will elect its first female president.

  • The Milken Institute’s Joel Kurtzman argues that thanks to an abundance of talent in key sectors ¬ biotech, pharmaceuticals, computers, telecommunications, and energy ¬ America remains the world’s dominant manufacturing power, capable of a rapid return to prosperity.
    Unleashing the Second American Century
    Tuesday, April 8, 2014
    Central Library

    In a discussion of his book, business management and leadership expert Joel Kurtzman makes the argument that America remains by far the world’s dominant manufacturing power, that most of what we produce is recession-proof, and that we boast a stunning level of talent and creativity in the world’s fastest-growing economic sectors — including biotech, pharmaceuticals, computer hardware and software, and telecommunications. Further, the country has a staggering $4.4 trillion in capital now idle. When the business community fully grasps its opportunities and capabilities, he says, prosperity will return.

  • Historian Jerome Greene explores the 1890 massacre of Sioux Indians on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, the complex events preceding the tragedy, and its troubled legacy.
    American Carnage: Wounded Knee, 1890 - Jerome Greene
    Sunday, April 6, 2014
    Central Library

    On a cold day in December 1890, near a creek called Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry opened fire on an encampment of Sioux Indians. The ensuing massacre claimed more than 250 lives, including many Native women and children.

    In a discussion of his new book, Jerome Greene, a retired research historian for the National Park Service, explores the complex events preceding the tragedy, the killings, their troubled legacy, and the episode’s connection to the Kansas City region.

  • Historian Anne F. Hyde discusses her new book about the forces that were developing the American West long before the Louisiana Purchase made it a part of the United States.
    Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West
    Thursday, April 3, 2014
    Central Library

    The popularized, and wholly myopic, story of the United States’ westward expansion entails great Anglo-American explorers, hardy pioneers, and disappearing Indians. But as historian Anne F. Hyde makes clear in a discussion of her Bancroft Prize-winning book, this chapter in our country’s history is more complex than that.

    The Louisiana Purchase didn’t procure entirely virgin wilderness. From previous French and Spanish ownership, there were existing political and military influences, and the territory also was held together — and divided — by ethnically mixed families, friendships, and other alliances.

  • The National Review’s Kevin Williamson argues that innovative solutions to many of America’s problems are emerging from the failure of politics and government.
    The End Is Near and It’s Going to be Awesome
    Wednesday, March 19, 2014
    Central Library

    The U.S. government is disintegrating … and that’s a good thing, according to National Review contributor Kevin Williamson, whose new book sees innovative solutions to various social problems emerging from the failure of politics and government.

    Politics, he argues, cannot deal with crucial problems in education, health care, social security, and monetary policy. Meanwhile, those who don’t look to the state for goods and services — from home schoolers to Wall Street to organized crime — are experimenting with replacing the state’s outmoded social software with market-derived alternatives.

  • Amanda Ripley discusses her book about three young Americans who have opted to study in foreign countries where education is undergoing a revolution and even average students can make complex arguments.
    The Smartest Kids in the World – and How They Got That Way
    Wednesday, March 12, 2014
    Plaza Branch

    Some countries are so good at educating children that virtually all their youngsters can make complex arguments and solve complex problems. In other words, they are learning to think.

    In her bestselling book, author Amanda Ripley, an investigative journalist for Time and The Atlantic, follows three young Americans who have opted to study in Finland, Poland, and South Korea — hotbeds of education where rigorous teaching, parental input, and eager students are revolutionizing learning.