Items tagged with History

Pages Through the Ages Discussion: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

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Discuss Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass.

Prepare for David Blight’s visit by reading Frederick Douglass’ dramatic autobiography. (David Blight, 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner for Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, speaks here Thursday, December 5 at 7 pm.) Former slave, impassioned abolitionist, brilliant writer, newspaper editor and eloquent orator whose speeches fired the abolitionist cause, Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) led an astounding life. Physical abuse, deprivation and tragedy plagued his early years, yet through sheer force of character he was able to overcome these obstacles to become a leading spokesman for his people.

In this, the first and most frequently read of his three autobiographies, Douglass provides graphic descriptions of his childhood and horrifying experiences as a slave, as well as a harrowing record of his dramatic escape to the North and eventual freedom. Published in 1845 to quell doubts about his origins — since few slaves of that period could write — the narrative is admired today for its extraordinary passion, sensitive and vivid descriptions and storytelling power.

Community Partner: The Westport Historical Society.

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

Room 216 (McCall Room)
Book Groups

Pages Through the Ages Discussion: The Woman’s Hour

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Discuss The Woman’s Hour by Elaine Weiss, the WestportREADS selection, just a few days after the author comes to speak (Thursday, October 17 at 7 pm). Soon to be a major television event, the nail-biting climax of one of the greatest political battles in American history: the ratification of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Nashville, August 1920. Thirty-five states have approved the Nineteenth Amendment, granting women the right to vote; one last state-Tennessee–is needed for women’s voting rights to be the law of the land. The suffragists face vicious opposition from politicians, clergy, corporations and racists who don’t want black women voting. And then there are the “Antis”–women who oppose their own enfranchisement, fearing suffrage will bring about the nation’s moral collapse. In one hot summer, they all converge for a confrontation, replete with booze and blackmail, betrayal and courage. Following a handful of remarkable women who led their respective forces into battle, The Woman’s Hour is the gripping story of how America’s women won their own freedom, and of the opening campaign in the great 20th-century battles for civil rights.

Community Partner: The Westport Historical Society.

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

Room 216 (McCall Room)
Book Groups

Pages Through the Ages Discussion: Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital

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Discuss Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky. 

Bellevue Hospital, on New York City’s East Side, occupies a colorful and horrifying place in the public imagination: a den of mangled crime victims, vicious psychopaths, assorted derelicts, lunatics, and exotic-disease sufferers. In its two and a half centuries of service, there was hardly an epidemic or social catastrophe—or groundbreaking scientific advance—that did not touch Bellevue. David Oshinsky chronicles the history of America’s oldest hospital and in so doing also charts the rise of New York to the nation’s preeminent city, the path of American medicine from butchery and quackery to a professional and scientific endeavor, and the growth of a civic institution.

NYT review: "Bellevue Celebrates a Hospital Not Crazy, but Compassionate"

Community Partner: The Westport Historical Society. See the exhibit, Taking the Cure: Public Health 1880-1960, Thursday, August 15 - Sunday, November 17, 2019

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

Room 216 (McCall Room)
Book Groups

Pages Through the Ages Discussion: "American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell"

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To compliment the Westport Historical Society’s exhibit about George Hand Wright, discuss American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell by Deborah Solomon. George Hand Wright was an illustrator who moved to Westport in 1907 during the Golden Age of Illustration. he was not a part of the Famous Artist School (that's in the 1940s), but he was definitely central to the artist community that was growing at the turn of the century. He worked in pastel and watercolors as well as etching.

As the star illustrator of The Saturday Evening Post for nearly half a century, Norman Rockwell mingled fact and fiction in paintings that reflected the we-the-people, communitarian ideals of American democracy. Freckled Boy Scouts and their mutts, sprightly grandmothers, a young man standing up to speak at a town hall meeting, a little black girl named Ruby Bridges walking into an all-white school―here was an America whose citizens seemed to believe in equality and gladness for all.

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.
Community partner: Westport Historical Society. See the exhibit, Dignified Vision: The Art of George Hand Wright Thursday, August 15 - Sunday, November 17, 2019

Brooks Place
Book Groups

Pages Through the Ages Discussion: "The President Is a Sick Man"

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Discuss The President Is a Sick Man: Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survives a Secret Surgery at Sea and Vilifies the Courageous Newspaperman Who Dared Expose the Truth by Matthew Algeo.

On July 1, 1893, President Grover Cleveland boarded a friend’s yacht and was not heard from for five days. During that time, a team of doctors removed a cancerous tumor from the president’s palate along with much of his upper jaw. When an enterprising reporter named E. J. Edwards exposed the secret operation, Cleveland denied it and Edwards was consequently dismissed as a disgrace to journalism. Twenty-four years later, one of the president’s doctors finally revealed the incredible truth, but many Americans simply would not believe it. After all, Grover Cleveland’s political career was built upon honesty—his most memorable quote was “Tell the truth”—so it was nearly impossible to believe he was involved in such a brazen cover-up. This is the first full account of the disappearance of Grover Cleveland during that summer more than a century ago.

Location: The McCall Room

Community Partner: The Westport Historical Society. See the exhibit, Taking the Cure: Public Health 1880-1960, Thursday, August 15 - Sunday, November 17, 2019

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

Room 216 (McCall Room)
Book Groups

History Book Discussion: D Day: June 6, 1944

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D Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose is the definitive history of World War II’s most pivotal battle, a day that changed the course of history.

D-Day is the epic story of men at the most demanding moment of their lives, when the horrors, complexities, and triumphs of life are laid bare. Distinguished historian Stephen E. Ambrose portrays the faces of courage and heroism, fear and determination—what Eisenhower called “the fury of an aroused democracy”—that shaped the victory of the citizen soldiers whom Hitler had disparaged. Drawing on more than 1,400 interviews with American, British, Canadian, French, and German veterans, Ambrose reveals how the original plans for the invasion had to be abandoned, and how enlisted men and junior officers acted on their own initiative when they realized that nothing was as they were told it would be.

Location: Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Place

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

Other
Book Groups

“Roll Red Roll” Film Screening and Panel Discussion on the Culture of Sexual Assault

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The Westport Library joins forces with the Westport Young Woman’s League and The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis and Education for a screening and panel discussion about the culture of sexual assault.

Location: Branson Hall, Christ & Holy Trinity Church, 75 Church Lane

The evening will begin with a screening of Roll Red Roll, a new documentary by director Nancy Schwartzman. The film is a true-crime thriller that goes behind the headlines to uncover the deep-seated and social media-fueled “boys will be boys” culture at the root of high school sexual assault in America. (2018, 1h 20m) See the trailer.

Following the screening, a panel of local experts will discuss the film’s themes and lead the audience in a deeper exploration of those themes. 

Community partners: Christ & Holy Trinity Church

Christ & Holy Trinity Church
Talks & Readings, Films

History Book Discussion: Revolutionary Russia 1891-1991

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In Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991: A History, Orlando Figes offers a new perspective on the Russian Revolution. While other historians have focused their examinations on the cataclysmic years immediately before and after 1917, Figes shows how the revolution, while it changed in form and character, nevertheless retained the same idealistic goals throughout, from its origins in the famine crisis of 1891 until its end with the collapse of the Soviet regime in 1991. Until the very end of the Soviet system, its leaders believed they were carrying out the revolution Lenin had begun.

Location: Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Place

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

Other
Book Groups

13th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration with Pulitzer Prize Winner James Forman, Jr.

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The 13th Annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration features keynote speaker James Forman, Jr., the 2018 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America. The event will also include performances from the Serendipity Choir and the Regional School of the Arts. (Note: this program was re-scheduled from a prior date because of inclement weather on the original date.)

The celebration is co-sponsored by The Westport Library and Westport Country Playhouse in partnership with TEAM Westport and the Westport/Weston Interfaith Council. Seating is unreserved. Complimentary refreshments will be served in the Playhouse lobby after the presentation.

Location: Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court

The Westport/Weston Family YMCA will provide childcare and activities in the Lucille Lortel White Barn, Sheffer Studio, adjacent to the theater.

Former public defender James Forman, Jr. is a leading critic of mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on people of color. Forman graduated from Atlanta’s Roosevelt High School, Brown University, and Yale Law School. He worked as a law clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court. After clerking, he joined the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C., where for six years he represented juveniles and adults in felony and misdemeanor cases. 

Professor Forman has written many law review articles, in addition to op-eds and essays for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The Nation, and The Washington Post. His first book is the critically acclaimed Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America (2017), which explores how decisions made by black leaders, often with the best of intentions, contributed to disproportionately incarcerating black and brown people. A Washington Post bestseller, Locking Up Our Own was longlisted for the National Book Award and has been named a Best Book of the Year by numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Marshall Project, Publisher’s Weekly, and GQ. Reviewers have called the book “superb and shattering” (New York Times), “eloquent” and “sobering” (London Review of Books), and “moving, nuanced, and candid” (New York Review of Books). On Twitter, The New York Times book reviewer Jennifer Senior called Locking Up Our Own “the best book I’ve read this year.” The book was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction in April 2018.

 

Westport Country Playhouse
Talks & Readings, Authors

History Book Discussion: Paul Revere's Ride

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Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer. One of the foremost American historians offers the first serious look at the events of the night of April 18, 1775—what led up to it, what really happened, and what followed—uncovering a truth far more remarkable than the myths of tradition.

For copies of the book, phone 203.291.4821.

Program Room
Book Groups