Event Video

To view a video recording of a previous Library special event, click the icon. The Library offers recordings only with the permission of the presenter.

  • 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.

  • Historian Lewis L. Gould argues that Kansas City Star publisher William Rockhill Nelson played a major role in the political fortunes of former President Theodore Roosevelt.
    “I Am With You Tooth and Nail” - William Rockhill Nelson & Theodore Roosevelt
    Tuesday, September 10, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    Theodore Roosevelt was one of the major figures in America’s Progressive movement in the early 20th century. But key to his influence was the support of Kansas City Star publisher William Rockhill Nelson. Historian Lewis L. Gould maintains that Nelson played a larger role in Roosevelt’s political fortunes than has been realized.

    Gould is visiting distinguished professor of history at Monmouth College. Among his books are Theodore Roosevelt, The William Howard Taft Presidency, and The Modern American Presidency.

  • Chicana writer Norma Cantú discusses her new book Canicula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera, in which she chronicles life on the U.S.-Mexico border.
    A Chicana’s Life in Literature
    Thursday, September 5, 2013
    Central Library

    Writer Norma Cantú, internationally known scholar of Latino and Chicano literature and studies, reads from her book Canicula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera, a chronicle of life on the U.S.-Mexico border. She will also read from her poetry book manuscript Meditacion Fronteriza/Borderlands Meditation and from her novel-in-progress, tentatively titled Champú or Hair Matters.

    Formerly a professor of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Cantú recently joined the UMKC Department of English and the Latina/Latino Studies Program. Her areas of interest and research include border studies, cultural studies, feminist studies, and folklore.

  • Editors Jonathan Earle and Diane Mutti Burke and three fellow historians who contributed to their book -- Kristen Oertel, Jeremy Neely, and Jennifer Weber – discuss the era of Bleeding Kansas, its overall impact on the Civil War, and the lasting divisiveness it spawned.
    Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri: The Long Civil War on the Border
    Tuesday, September 3, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    Long before the Civil War began violence was commonplace along the Missouri-Kansas border. There a recurring cycle of robbery, arson, torture, murder, and revenge was established over the same issues that would fuel the larger conflict.

    Jonathan Earle, associate professor of history at the University of Kansas, and Diane Mutti Burke, associate professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, are editors of the new book Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri. They are joined by contributing writers Kristen Oertel of the University of Tulsa, Jennifer Weber of the University of Kansas, and Jeremy Neely of Missouri State University for a discussion that blends political, military, social, and intellectual history to explain why the region’s divisiveness was so bitter and persisted for so long.