Items tagged with History

Historian David Dalin with an Inside Look at the Supreme Court

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Historian David Dalin, author of Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court: From Brandeis to Kagan, examines the legal careers, lives and legacies of the eight Jewish justices who have or are servng on the Supreme Court. This program is free and open to all. To reserve a seat, email skamisar [at] jewishphilanthropyct [dot] org.

Note location: Temple Israel, 14 Coleytown Road, Westport 


Community partners: The Federation for Jewish Philanthropy Cardozo Society and Temple Israel

“I thought I knew a lot about the Supreme Court’s eight Jewish justices, since I have known six of them personally. But I learned so much more from David Dalin's brilliant and readable account of their very different lives and connections to their Jewish heritage. A must read for anyone interested in Jewish, American or legal history.”—Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, Harvard Law School, and author of Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law

David G. Dalin is an historian and rabbi. He has written, co-authored or edited eleven books, including Religion and State in the American Jewish Experience with Jonathan D. Sarna. His articles and book reviews have appeared in publications such as American Jewish History, Modern Judaism, Weekly Standard, the American Jewish Year Book and the Jewish Review of Books.


Author & Filmmaker Tom Shachtman on "How the French Saved America"

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Author, filmmaker and educator Tom Schachtman discusses his book How the French Saved America: Soldiers, Sailors, Diplomats, Louis XVI, and the Success of a Revolution. To the rebelling colonies, French assistance made the difference between defeat and triumph.

Community partner: Westport Historical Society

American Revolution guide

Even before the Declaration of Independence was issued, King Louis XVI and French foreign minister Vergennes were aiding the rebels. After the Declaration, that assistance broadened to include wages for our troops; guns, cannon, and ammunition; engineering expertise that enabled victories and prevented defeats; diplomatic recognition when no other country would give it; safe havens for privateers; battlefield leadership by veteran officers; and the army and fleet that made possible the Franco-American victory at Yorktown.

Nearly ten percent of those who fought and died for the American cause were French. Those who fought and survived, in addition to the well-known Lafayette and Rochambeau, include François de Fleury, who won a Congressional Medal for valor, Louis Duportail, who founded the Army Corps of Engineers, and Admiral de Grasse, whose sea victory sealed the fate of Yorktown.

Tom Schachtman has written or co-authored more than thirty books, as well as documentaries for ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and BBC, and has taught at New York University and lectured at Harvard and Stanford. He is a former chairman of The Writers Room in Manhattan, a trustee of the Connecticut Humanities Council, a founding director of the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area, and is currently a consultant to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's science and technology initiatives.

Author photo credit Mark Connolly

Large Reading Room

The '60s Music Scene

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With the 50th anniversary of the Doors' concert at Staples HS rapidly approaching, a panel discussion will explore the 1960s music scene both locally and nationally. The panel will feature Staples alumni who have had successful music careers—and got their starts locally—including one musician whose band opened for the Doors at Staples, another musician whose band played on WICC back in the day, and a DJ who started out at WICC and was part of the fabled Good Guys radio staff at WMCA during its 1960s heyday. Moderated by Dan Woog, the panel includes DJ Ed Baer, songwriter Charlie Karp and musician Brian Keane. 

This talk is in conjunction with the Westport Historical Society's Exhibit "The High School That Rocked." The exhibit runs June 16-September 2 and includes a clip from the documentary short from producer Fred Cantor, The High School That Rocked!  #WestportRocksSummerFestival

Dan Woog is a native Westporter. He attended virtually all of the key Staples concerts, starting with the Beau Brummels when he was in 7th grade. When he regained his hearing he graduate from Staples and Brown University. A freelance writer, he has published 17 books; written for publications including the New York Times and Sports Illustrated, and been hired by dozens of corporate clients. His “06880” blog draws current and former Westporters together in an online community. He is also the longtime boys soccer coach at Staples High School, a former Youth National Coach of the Year, and a member of the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame.

Ed Baer, Staples '54, is a retired popular DJ whose career in the New York metro area spanned close to 60 years. Ed got his start at WICC and was the MC when Connie Francis had her first Top Ten hit and made an appearance at a Staples sock hop in 1958. In 1961, Ed joined the fabled Good Guys team at WMCA in New York City and remained part of that staff during the station's heyday in the sixties. Through his show and related promotional events, Ed interacted with some of the decade's biggest stars. In subsequent years, Ed worked at other prominent radio stations including WHN, WCBS and WHUD, where his well-known shows such as "Ed Baer Affair" and "Pop Rewind" aired.

Charlie Karp, Staples '71, is an award-winning songwriter, singer and guitarist. His professional start began in 1970, when he was chosen to record with Buddy Miles. Charlie recorded four albums, including the renowned "Them Changes" LP, and toured internationally with Miles through 1972, when he formed his own band with David Hull, White Chocolate, and signed with RCA Records. Over the years, Charlie has written songs for and/or recorded with a wide range of prominent artists including Joan Jett, Joe Perry, Arthur Lee, and Danny Kortchmar.

Brian Keane, Staples '71, is an American composer, music producer, musician and guitarist. He has composed the music for hundreds of films and television shows and produced over a hundred record albums and won Grammys, Emmys and Peabodys. Keane is known as one of the most prominent composers of his era in scoring television documentaries and is a leading producer of world music. More...

Large Reading Room
Talks & Readings, Music
Music, History

The United States and the Mideast

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Amherst College Visiting Professor Steven Simon discusses the history of US involvement in the Middle East, as well as its status today. During the Cold War, the region was an arena for superpower competition; with the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was a stage for the exercise of unimpeded American power; with 9/11, it became the object for a vast U.S. experiment in political and social engineering, with the deployment of the largest-ever American troop presence in the Middle East, trillions spent and thousands killed or wounded. During Barack Obama’s presidency, the tide began to turn as Washington pivoted from the Middle East to Asia. The Trump administration hints that this retrenchment will be reversed, alliances reinvigorated, and American priorities respected. But is this possible? And if it is, at what cost and with what result?

Steven Simon is John J. McCloy ’16 Visiting Professor in History at Amherst College. He served at the White House on the National Security Council during the Clinton and Obama administrations and in a range of posts at the Department of State. In addition, he has been Goldman Sachs & Co. Visiting Professor at Princeton University, Hasib Sabbagh Senior Fellow in Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, University Fellow in History of Religion at Brown University, International Affairs Fellow at Oxford University, Bosch Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, visiting lecturer at Dartmouth College, Executive Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the US and Middle East, and senior analyst at the RAND Corporation. His first book, The Age of Sacred Terror, co-authored with Daniel Benjamin, won the Arthur C. Ross award for best book on international affairs. His new book, The Long Goodbye: The United States and the Middle East from Islamic Revolution to the Arab Spring, (Penguin /Random House), will be released in early 2019.

McManus Room
Talks & Readings

History Book Discussion of "Destiny of the Republic"

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Presidential history buff Mike Shaw leads a discussion of Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. This New York Times bestseller is an account of James Garfield's rise from abject poverty. He rose to become a scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back.

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

Weeks Seminar Room
Book Groups

History Book Discussion of "Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln"

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Presidential history buff Mike Shaw leads a discussion of Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln by Richard Brookhiser. In this book, Brookhiser looked where Abraham Lincoln looked—to the founding fathers who inspired him to take up public life, who showed him how to win arguments, and who laid out America’s principles. The founders gave Lincoln direction, which bound all his talents—politics, humor, poetry, leadership—together. 

When not working as a copy editor, discussion leader Mike Shaw is reading books about presidential history. He recently completed the presidential biography challenge, where he read a bio of every president in order. He also runs an online presidential history discussion group and is always looking for new members.

History book discussions occur the 2nd Sunday of the month at 3 pm. For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

Weeks Seminar Room
Book Groups

Middle East Expert Tarek Osman on His Book, "Islamism: What it Means for the Middle East and the World"

April 21, 2016
Tarek Osman

Tarek Osman focused on Islamism and Arab politics, social dynamics, economics, modern history, and culture during his program about his new book, Islamism: What it Means for the Middle East and the World on April 21, 2016.

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Science Journalist Claudia Kalb on "Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History’s Great Personalities"

April 3, 2016
Claudia Kalb

Health and science journalist Claudia Kalb gave fascinating insight into the maladies that plagued some of history’s most celebrated icons from her new book Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History’s Great Personalities on April 3, 2016.

Photo Credit: Phyllis Groner

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Historian Jonathan D. Sarna on His Book "Lincoln and the Jews"

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lincoln and the jews
Author and historian Jonathan D. Sarna will share his research and insights presented in his book Lincoln and the Jews. One hundred and fifty years after Abraham Lincoln's death, the full story of his extraordinary relationship with Jews, Lincoln and the Jews: A History provides readers both with a captivating narrative of his interactions with Jews, and with the opportunity to immerse themselves in rare manuscripts and images, many from the Shapell Lincoln Collection, that show Lincoln in a way he has never been seen before.

“Nothing brings history to life more vividly than handwritten letters, maps, and photographs. This book is a spectacular collection of primary documents that cast new light on is a treasure.”―Doris Kearns Goodwin

Sarna Jonathan credit Eric SultanJonathan D. Sarna is a historian and leading commentator on American Jewish history, religion, and life. Dubbed by the Forward newspaper in 2004 as one of America's fifty most-influential American Jews, Sarna is the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, and the eighteenth president of the Association for Jewish Studies. The author of hundreds of scholarly articles, Sarna may be best known for his acclaimed American Judaism: A History, winner of the Jewish Book Council's Jewish Book of the Year Award.

Author photo credit Eric Sultan

Registration suggested at

Location: The Conservative Synagogue, 30 Hillspoint Road , Westport
Community Partner: The Conservative Synagogue


Jane Austen: Kick-Off a Year of Reading With "Northanger Abbey"

February 27, 2016
Northanger Abbey

In partnership with the Jane Austen Society North America, CT Region, the Westport Library is hosting a series of discussions on the novels of Jane Austen. We began with Northanger Abbey and a special discussion led by Barbara M. Benedict, professor of English at Trinity College on February 27, 2016.

The program was joined in progress.

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