Event Video

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  • Former Royals great Willie Wilson discusses his 19 seasons as a Major League Baseball player, his record-setting career, and the drug conviction that might have ruined his life at the official launch of his new memoir, Inside the Park: Running the Base Path of Life.
    Inside the Park: Running the Base Path of Life
    Wednesday, October 9, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    Former Kansas City Royal Willie Wilson retired from Major League Baseball with 668 stolen bases (ranking 12th all-time) and 13 inside-the-park home runs (the most of any major leaguer playing after 1950). He was also among the first active major league players to serve jail time, having pled guilty to misdemeanor drug charges in 1983.

    Now Wilson and his co-author, former Kansas City Star sportswriter Kent Pulliam, discuss his life and career as chronicled in a new memoir.

  • Former U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton joins Library director Crosby Kemper III for a public conversation about his new memoir which chronicles Skelton’s life from his boyhood and a bout with polio to his ascent to the powerful chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee.
    True Life, True Grit: Achieve the Honorable
    Tuesday, October 8, 2013
    Central Library

    Former U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton discusses his new memoir Achieve the Honorable in a public conversation with library director Crosby Kemper III.

    Achieve the Honorable is the story of how Skelton, a native of Lexington, Missouri, overcame boyhood polio to launch a career on Capitol Hill. Along the way, the book provides glimpses into the lives of political titans like Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton, and treats readers to Skelton’s engaging humor and shrewd political insight.

  • Drawing from his definitive biography Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg looks at the president who was one of the past century’s most influential – and enigmatic – figures.
    Woodrow Wilson - A. Scott Berg
    Thursday, October 3, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    A century after his inauguration, President Woodrow Wilson remains among the most influential figures of the 20th century—and one of the most enigmatic. Now, after more than a decade of research and writing, A. Scott Berg discusses his definitive biography Wilson, which looks not only at this leader’s public life but also his private passions.

    Berg is a winner of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

  • Historian Amy S. Greenberg discusses her book about the controversial war that divided the nation even as it gave the U.S. control of the vast Southwest.
    A Wicked War
    Tuesday, October 1, 2013
    Central Library

    Long viewed as unjust and mercenary, the Mexican-American War allowed the U.S. to seize control of vast expanses of the Southwest, paved the way for the Civil War, and led to the political rise of Abraham Lincoln.

    Historian Amy S. Greenberg discusses her book A Wicked War and its cast of colorful characters: James K. Polk, the dour president committed to territorial expansion; Henry Clay, the aging statesman with one last great speech up his sleeve; and Lincoln’s archrival John Hardin, to name just a few.

  • Author Carol Wallace examines the American heiresses who early in the last century traveled to England where they swapped their fortunes for titles by marrying into the nobility. Her book To Marry an English Lord was an inspiration for the hit PBS series Downton Abbey.
    To Marry an English Lord
    Thursday, September 26, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    From the Gilded Age until 1914, more than 100 American heiresses invaded Britannia and swapped dollars for titles. In this they were just like the fictional Cora Crawley, a wealthy American who through marriage became Countess of Grantham in the Downton Abbey television series.

    Author Carol Wallace discusses her book To Marry an English Lord, a tour through the vivid personalities, gossipy anecdotes, and grand houses of the period which inspired Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes to create the hit series.

  • Scholar Tom Averill of Washburn University examines how the novel True Grit depicts the American West and the characteristics that unite all great Western stories.
    True Grit as True Grist for Exploration of the Western Novel
    Wednesday, September 25, 2013
    Central Library


    The Old West occupies a relatively short era in American history, and it is in that colorful period that Charles Portis’ True Grit unfolds. To get the ball rolling on this year’s Big Read, scholar Tom Averill examines how the novel depicts those years and the characteristics that unite all Westerns – among them coming-of-age stories and themes of diversity and racism, violence and genocide, and justice.

    Averill is a professor of English at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, where he is writer-in-residence. He is author of three novels: rode, Secrets of the Tsil Café, and The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson. He has received the O. Henry Award for his short story collections.

  • Author Ann Kirschner discusses her book about the common-law wife of lawman Wyatt Earp, a flamboyant Jewish girl from New York who led a life of ambition, adventure, and romance. Josephine Earp was the type of woman embodied in True Grit’s fictional Mattie Ross.
    Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp
    Tuesday, September 24, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    For nearly 50 years Josephine Marcus Earp was the common-law wife of Wyatt Earp, the legendary hero of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. As an independent 19th-century woman she was a real-life forerunner of True Grit’s fictional Mattie Ross.

    Author Ann Kirschner explores the life of this frontier femme, a flamboyant Jewish girl with a persistent New York accent whose life is a spirited and colorful tale of ambition, adventure, self-invention, and romance.

  • University of Georgia professor Peter Charles Hoffer examines the repercussions of the controversial 1973 Supreme Court decision that upheld a woman’s right to have an abortion and became a flashpoint in the contemporary “culture” war.
    Roe v. Wade: The Abortion Rights Controversy in American History
    Thursday, September 19, 2013
    Central Library

    Few Supreme Court decisions have stirred up as much controversy, vitriolic debate, and even violence as 1973’s Roe v. Wade, which affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion. Peter Charles Hoffer examines the lasting impact of this landmark decision, its historical background, core issues, essential personalities, and key precedents.

    Hoffer is distinguished research professor of history at the University of Georgia.

  • Time magazine editor-at-large David Von Drehle and Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle hold a public conversation on the economy.  McArdle writes about economics, finance, and government policy from a moderate libertarian (or classical liberal) perspective.
    Freeing the Economy: Megan McArdle
    Tuesday, September 17, 2013
    Central Library

    Time magazine’s David Von Drehle and Bloomberg blogger Megan McArdle discuss Freeing the Economy in the third offering of the Dateline: Washington series.

    McArdle is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist writing mostly about economics, finance, and government policy from a moderate libertarian (or classical liberal) perspective. In recent months, she has blogged about government-backed mortgages, the higher education bubble, and the labor movement.

  • Jeffrey Frank discusses his new book, Ike and Dick, about the 20-year political and private relationship between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.
    Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage - Jeffrey Frank
    Thursday, September 12, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    Jeffrey Frank discusses his new book Ike and Dick, which examines the 20-year political and private relationship of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon to reveal hurtful slights and tense misunderstandings. The two men brought out the best and worst in each other, and their association had important consequences for their respective presidencies.

    Frank is a former senior editor at The New Yorker and deputy editor of The Washington Post’s Outlook section. He is the author of four novels, including the Washington Trilogy - The Columnist, Bad Publicity, and Trudy Hopedale.