Items tagged with History

History Book Discussion: Washington's Crossing

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Join a discussion of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer. Six months after the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution was all but lost. The book reveals the crucial role Washington's crossing played in the American Revolution and highlights how the startling success of Washington and his compatriots not only saved the faltering American Revolution, but helped to give it new meaning.

A powerful British force had routed the Americans at New York, occupied three colonies, and advanced within sight of Philadelphia. Yet, as David Hackett Fischer recounts in this riveting history, George Washington--and many other Americans--refused to let the Revolution die. On Christmas night, as a howling nor'easter struck the Delaware Valley, he led his men across the river and attacked the exhausted Hessian garrison at Trenton, killing or capturing nearly a thousand men. A second battle of Trenton followed within days. The Americans held off a counterattack by Lord Cornwallis's best troops, then were almost trapped by the British force. Under cover of night, Washington's men stole behind the enemy and struck them again, defeating a brigade at Princeton. The British were badly shaken. In twelve weeks of winter fighting, their army suffered severe damage, their hold on New Jersey was broken, and their strategy was ruined. Fischer's richly textured narrative reveals the crucial role of contingency in these events. We see how the campaign unfolded in a sequence of difficult choices by many actors, from generals to civilians, on both sides. While British and German forces remained rigid and hierarchical, Americans evolved an open and flexible system that was fundamental to their success. The startling success of Washington and his compatriots not only saved the faltering American Revolution, but helped to give it new meaning.

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

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History Book Discussion: Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World

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Join a discussion of Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret Macmillan. For six months in 1919, after the end of “the war to end all wars,” the Big Three—President Woodrow Wilson, British prime minister David Lloyd George, and French premier Georges Clemenceau—met in Paris to shape a lasting peace. In this landmark work of narrative history, Margaret MacMillan gives a dramatic and intimate view of those fateful days, which saw new political entities—Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Palestine, among them—born out of the ruins of bankrupt empires, and the borders of the modern world redrawn.

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

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History Book Discussion: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City

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Join a discussion of Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City by Jonathan Mahler. A kaleidoscopic portrait of New York City in 1977, The Bronx Is Burning is the story of two epic battles: the fight between Yankee Reggie Jackson and team manager Billy Martin, and the battle between Mario Cuomo and Ed Koch for the city's mayorship. Buried beneath these parallel conflicts--one for the soul of baseball, the other for the soul of the city--was the subtext of race.

Deftly intertwined by journalist Jonathan Mahler, these braided Big Apple narratives reverberate to reveal a year that also saw the opening of Studio 54, the acquisition of the New York Post by Rupert Murdoch, a murderer dubbed the "Son of Sam," the infamous blackout, and the evolution of punk rock. As Koch defeated Cuomo, and as Reggie Jackson rescued a team racked with dissension, 1977 became a year of survival--and also of hope.

The Bronx Is Burning was a 2004 New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and the basis of the 2007 ESPN miniseries, starring John Turturro as Billy Martin, Oliver Platt as George Steinbrenner, and Daniel Sunjata as Reggie Jackson.

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

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History Book Discussion: No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II

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Join a discussion of No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History, No Ordinary Time is a monumental work, a brilliantly conceived chronicle of one of the most vibrant and revolutionary periods in the history of the United States. With an extraordinary collection of details, Goodwin masterfully weaves together a striking number of story lines—Eleanor and Franklin’s marriage and remarkable partnership, Eleanor’s life as First Lady, and FDR’s White House and its impact on America as well as on a world at war. Goodwin effectively melds these details and stories into an unforgettable and intimate portrait of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and of the time during which a new, modern America was born.

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

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Historian Victoria Johnson on Her Book "American Eden"

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Historian Victoria Johnson will give an illustrated lecture about her new book, American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic. When Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr met on a dueling ground in July 1804, they chose the same attending physician: David Hosack. Family doctor and friend to both, Hosack is today a shadowy figure at the edge of a famous duel, the great achievements of his life forgotten. But in 1801, on twenty acres of Manhattan farmland, Hosack founded the first botanical garden in the new nation, amassing a spectacular collection of medicinal, agricultural, and ornamental plants that brought him worldwide praise from the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander von Humboldt. Hosack used his pioneering institution to train the next generation of American doctors and naturalists and to conduct some of the first pharmaceutical research in the United States. Today, his former garden is home to Rockefeller Center.

Community Partner: The Westport Garden Club
Location: Community Room at St. Luke’s Church, 84 Long Lots Road

Victoria Johnson is a writer and professor living in New York City. She holds a doctorate in sociology from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Yale. She teaches at Hunter College of the City University of New York on the history of philanthropy, the natural environment, and New York City.

Author Photo by Yanka Kostova

 

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Screening of HBO Documentary King in the Wilderness with Executive Producer Trey Ellis

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View the HBO documentary King in the Wilderness, which will be followed by a Q&A with executive producer and Westporter Trey Ellis, novelist, filmmaker, playwright, essayist and Associate Professor at Columbia University.

Directed by Peter Kunhardt (HBO’s Emmy®-winning Jim: The James Foley Story), King in the Wilderness chronicles the final chapters of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, revealing a conflicted leader who faced an onslaught of criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. Drawing on conversations with those who knew him well, including many fellow members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), King in the Wilderness reveals stirring new perspectives on Dr. King’s character, his radical doctrine of nonviolence and his internal philosophical struggles prior to his assassination in 1968. (2018, 1h 51m) Register online.

King in the Wilderness debuted at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and is a co-production of HBO and Kunhardt Films; directed by Peter Kunhardt; produced by George Kunhardt and Teddy Kunhardt; executive produced by Peter Kunhardt, Taylor Branch and Trey Ellis; edited by Maya Mumma, A.C.E. and Steven J. Golliday; written by Chris Chuang; director of photography, Clair Popkin; music by Saul Simon MacWilliams; interviews by Taylor Branch and Trey Ellis. For HBO: executive producer, Jacqueline Glover.

Community partner: TEAM Westport

NOTE LOCATION: Bow Tie Ultimate Royale 6, 542 Westport Avenue

Trey Ellis is a novelist, filmmaker, playwright, essayist and an Associate Professor at Columbia University. Most recently he was an Executive Producer of the HBO documentary King in the Wilderness. He is the author of the novels, Platitudes, Home Repairs and the American Book Award-winning, Right Here, Right Now, as well as the memoir Bedtime Stories. His extensive work for the screen included the Peabody-winning and Emmy-nominated HBO film The Tuskegee Airmen. His works have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. His essays have appeared in the The New York Times, GQ, Playboy, Vanity Fair and NewYorker.com. His plays have been commissioned by the LIncoln Center Institute and have been performed around the country including Washington, D.C.'s historic Ford's Theater, the Pasadena Playhouse and the New Victory Theater in New York. He is currently co-directing a feature documentary on racial injustice for HBO.

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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Jon Meacham

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In The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, Pulitzer Prize–winning author and 2013 BOOKED for the evening honoree Jon Meacham looks back at critical times in our history when hope overcame division and fear to help us understand the present moment in American politics and life. 

Preferred seating tickets are available with the purchase of a book. The early-bird price is $26 for up to two seats. If want an additional copy or if you are unable to attend, you may also reserve a signed copy for the pre-event price of $26. A limited number of general admission seats will be available. Books will be for sale at the event for $30 each. Register online.

Note location: Westport Town Hall Auditorium, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport

Community partners: The League of Women Voters & the Yale Clubs of Eastern and LowerFairfield County

NPR's Steve Inskeep interviews Meacham on May 1.

NPR "Fresh Air" interview, May 2, with Meacham on Soul of America

“This is a brilliant, fascinating, timely, and above all profoundly important book. Jon Meacham explores the extremism and racism that have infected our politics, and he draws enlightening lessons from the knowledge that we’ve faced such trials before.”—Walter Isaacson

“Jon Meacham has done it again, this time with a historically rich and gracefully written account of America’s long struggle with division in our immigrant nation and the heroic efforts to heal the wounds. It should be in every home and on every student’s desk.”—Tom Brokaw

Our current climate of partisan fury is not new. Meacham shows us how what Abraham Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature” have repeatedly won the day. Painting surprising portraits of Lincoln and other presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson, and illuminating the courage of such influential citizen activists as Martin Luther King, Jr., early suffragettes Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt, civil rights pioneers Rosa Parks and John Lewis, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Army-McCarthy hearings lawyer Joseph N. Welch, Meacham brings vividly to life turning points in American history. He writes about the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the birth of the Lost Cause; the backlash against immigrants in the First World War and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s; the fight for women’s rights; the demagoguery of Huey Long and Father Coughlin and the isolationist work of America First in the years before World War II; the anti-Communist witch-hunts led by Senator Joseph McCarthy; and Lyndon Johnson’s crusade against Jim Crow. Each of these dramatic hours in our national life have been shaped by the contest to lead the country to look forward rather than back, to assert hope over fear—a struggle that continues even now.

While the American story has not always—or even often—been heroic, we have been sustained by a belief in progress even in the gloomiest of times. In this inspiring book, Meacham reassures us, “The good news is that we have come through such darkness before”—as, time and again, Lincoln’s better angels have found a way to prevail.

Jon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer. The author of the New York Times bestsellers Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, Franklin and Winston, and Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush, he is a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University, a contributing writer for The New York Times Book Review, and a fellow of the Society of American Historians.

Author photo credit Heidi Ross.

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Author Francine Klagsbrun on her Biography of Golda Meir

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Author Francine Klagsbrun speaks about Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel, a  biography of the iron-willed leader, chain-smoking political operative, and tea-and-cake-serving grandmother who became the fourth prime minister of Israel. Born in tzarist Russia in 1898, she immigrated to America in 1906 and grew up in Milwaukee, where from her earliest years she displayed the political consciousness and organizational skills that would eventually catapult her into the inner circles of Israel's founding generation.

Partners: Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County & Beit Chaverim Synagogue
Location: Beit Chaverim Synagogue, 85 Post Road West, parking is accessed on Cross St. 

Author photo credit Joan Roth

“A thorough and absorbing examination of the woman and her role in Zionism and Israel. Lioness wrests Meir from the shadow of the Yom Kippur War and presents her life and career as a lens to examine Israel’s challenges—borders, settlements, occupation, terror, and the social and ethnic divide between Jews of European origin and those of Middle Eastern origin.”
—Ethan Bronner, The New York Times Book Review

"Meir was Ben-Gurion’s “only man in the Israeli cabinet," a ferocious chain-smoking socialist leader without a high-level education but whose plainspoken speeches brought audiences to tears—and action. A terrific chronicle of a unique world leader."—starred Kirkus Review

“Scrupulously researched ... A major achievement.”
—Susan Jacoby, The Washington Post

Francine Klagsbrunis the author of more than a dozen books, including The Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day and Married People: Staying Together in the Age of Divorce. Lioness received the 2017 National Jewish Book Award/Everett Family Foundation Book of the Year. Klagsbrun was also the editor of the best-selling Free to Be ... You and Me and is a regular columnist for The Jewish Week, a contributing editor to Lilith, and on the editorial board of Hadassah magazine. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, and Ms. Magazine. She lives in New York City.

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Screening of “Marshall” with Attorney & Screenwriter Michael Koskoff

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Attorney and screenwriter Michael Koskoff will introduce a special screening of the 2017 film Marshall, which he co-wrote with Jacob Koskoff.

In Marshall,  a young Thurgood Marshall faces one of his greatest challenges while working as a lawyer for the NAACP. Marshall travels to conservative Connecticut when wealthy socialite Eleanor Strubing accuses black chauffeur Joseph Spell of sexual assault and attempted murder. He soon teams up with Sam Friedman, a local Jewish lawyer who's never handled a criminal case. Together, the two men build a defense while contending with racist and anti-Semitic views from those who deem Spell to be guilty. (2017, 1h 58m) Register online.

Community partner: Westport Cinema Initiative

NOTE LOCATION: Bow Tie Ultimate Royale 6, 542 Westport Avenue

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WestportREADS 2018: West Point Glee Club with Music of WWI

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The West Point Glee Club, one of the U.S. Military Academy’s most visible cadet organizations, performs a special concert created for WestportREADS with music and writings from WWI. For over one hundred years, its members have touched audiences around the world with a model depiction of the Corps of Cadets through live performance in the nation’s finest concert halls, national network and feature film appearances, and recordings. The Glee Club enhances life at West Point through its traditional ceremonial duties and represents West Point and the U.S. Army at official events.

Community partner and venue: Saugatuck Congregational Church, 245 Post Road East

Guide to the WestportREADS books and program.

Under the direction of Constance Chase, the Glee Club’s recent seasons included the Kennedy Center special Taking the Stage, aired on ABC, in which they appeared with Tom Hanks, GEN Colin Powell and six living original Tuskegee Airmen, and the Carnegie Hall premiere of Jake Runestad’s Dreams of the Fallen. The Glee Club travels throughout the United States appearing at venues as diverse as Lincoln Center, Tanglewood Music Center, Library of Congress, Kansas City’s Kauffman Center, New York Public Library, Grand Ole Opry, Madison Square Garden and Soldier Field. The Glee Club has performed with such renowned ensembles as the Boston Pops, New York Pops, U.S. Marine Band ”The President’s Own,” and Opera Orchestra of New York. The group has recorded with country artist Trace Adkins, also appearing with him on the CBS ACM Awards national broadcast, with crossover pianist Marina Arsenijivec in a PBS special “Marina at West Point: Unity through Diversity,” and with Tony-award winner Lea Salonga in the DVD “Stand Ye Steady.” 

WestportREADS is funded by the estate of Jerry A. Tishman.

West Point Glee Club Director Constance Chase has conducted the renowned college choir in the nation’s finest concert halls including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Tanglewood, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She has directed the Glee Club in national concert tours and many recordings, including closing credits for We Were Soldiers (Paramount), Stand Ye Steady (Curtain Call) with Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, Marina at West Point: Unity through Diversity (PBS) with cross-over pianist Marina Arsenijivec, ‘Til the Last Shot’s Fired (Capitol) with country artist Trace Adkins, which they performed live with Mr. Adkins at the 2009 ACM Awards Show, and the CDs “Voice of the Corps” and “Live at Notre Dame.” Under her preparation, the Glee Club garnered  New York Times’ critical praise for its “robust and well-prepared singing” in a 2008 Carnegie Hall performance with Opera Orchestra of New York, Eve Queler, Director, of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride. Recent guest conductor appearances include Symphony of the Americas and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Artistic Director of Connecticut Chamber Choir since 2008, Ms. Chase conducted CCC’s 2016 U.S. premiere of Donald Fraser’s stunning new arrangement for chamber choir and string orchestra of Elgar’s Sea Pictures, its2011 New York City debut at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 2015 appearance at the inaugural ChoralfestUSA at Symphony Space, and biannual performances of major works including J.S. Bach Magnificat, Haydn Paukenmesse and Lord Nelson Mass, Fauré and Duruflé Requiems, Bernstein MASS, chamber works spanning the sixteenth to twenty-first centuries, and most recently, Illumination: Early Cantatas of J.S. Bach with the period instrument consort, The Sebastians. Ms. Chase is an adjunct professor in applied voice at Western Connecticut State University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts. A lyric soprano and accomplished soloist in recital and chamber works, Ms. Chase has performed as a choral artist under the batons of Gerard Schwarz, Louis Langree, Nicholas McGegan, and Jane Glover. She presents workshops on the voice regionally and across the country for ACDA and NATS. Ms. Chase earned the B.M., magna cum laude, from University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Zertifikat from Goethe Institut, Schwäbisch Hall, Germany, and M.A. in Voice Performance from Hunter College-City University of New York where she was awarded the Agnes Duffy Prize. She is co-author with the late Shirlee Emmons of Prescriptions for Choral Excellence, Oxford University Press (2006).

Andrea Shaut is a prominent musician in the Hudson Valley music scene. Since graduating with a Music Performance degree from Ithaca College and moving to Kingston NY, she has established a demanding and diverse schedule of musical performances and a private teaching studio with students of all ages/levels.

Andrea has been accompanist for the prestigious West Point Military Academy Glee Club since 2010. With this talented choir, she has had the opportunity to perform across the country at renowned theater venues, hospitals, stadiums, and schools. A few noted performances include Louisiana Governor’s Inauguration, an NFL-sponsored Super Bowl party opening for Blake Shelton & Jon Stewart, performing with Trace Adkins at The Grand Ole Opry, a recording session at the world famous Skywalker Sound in California, and performances at George Washington University, Ellis Island, Tiger Woods Nike Theater in Portland Oregon, and West Point’s own Eisenhower Hall. Other accompanying highlights have been performing Carmina Burana with Ars Choralis at Opus 40, traveling abroad (Hungary, Italy, Austria) with the Hudson Valley Youth Chorale, accompanying musicians at Maverick Concerts in Woodstock, and collaborating with many professional musicians for concert recitals. Andrea also enjoys accompanying and coaching young musicians for competitions and recitals, as well as for local school choirs.
Andrea founded the Hudson Valley Recital Project, a recital series featuring professional and student musicians, with the mission to strengthen community and education through music. Recitals are held every two months and feature Andrea as director and accompanist. Each event is a themed evening with music, dance, art, food, drink. Past events have included Journey Through the Senses, An Italian Dinner Show, and Women in Music.
As a concert pianist, Andrea has performed as soloist with SUNY Ulster Wind Ensemble and regularly performs solo recitals and as a guest artist/speaker. In 2014, she released her debut CD, Simple Beauty, a collection of solo piano music dedicated to the memory of her grandmother. Other regular groups are The Father/Daughter duo, The Shaut Three-O, and new solo projects – Raggedy Andi and Classical TeaTime. Andrea is also on the Adjunct Faculty at SUNY Ulster, where she teaches piano.
 

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WestportREADS 2018, WestportREADS, Music