Join a discussion with the Westport Museum of History and Culture and Van Gosse, author and professor of History at Franklin & Marshall College. Gosse will discuss his book, The First Reconstruction: Black Politics in America from the Revolution to the Civil War, which offers a sweeping reappraisal of the formative era of American democracy from the Constitution’s ratification through Abraham Lincoln’s election, chronicling the rise of an organized, visible black politics focused on the quest for citizenship, the vote, and power within the free states.
To watch live and ask questions, visit the museum's Facebook page or YouTube channel.
Community Partner: Westport Museum of History and Culture
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Writer Elon Green talks with writer Hugh Ryan about his book, LAST CALL: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York.
Told in depth for the first time, LAST CALL is the gripping true crime story of The Last Call Killer, who preyed upon gay men in New York in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Yet because of the sexuality of his victims, the murders at the hands of this notorious serial killer have been almost entirely forgotten. This socially important piece of history is a nuanced testament to the vibrant gay community and the challenges they faced in the post AIDs milieu of early 90s New York City.
This is a virtual event, please register. Bookplate signed copies of LAST CALL are available for purchase.
Community Partner: Westport PRIDE
"LAST CALL, Elon Green's stunner of a debut, scaffolds the gripping account of a serial killer stalking the bars and hangouts of early 1990s queer New York over a heartfelt elegy to the lost lives of the murdered men, of a community ravaged by AIDS, and of a city in perpetual ruin and revival. This is a book I will reread again and again and find new and astonishing insights every time."
-Sarah Weinman, award-winning author of THE REAL LOLITA and editor of UNSPEAKABLE ACTS: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit & Obsession
More than impersonal crime reporting, Last Call brings to life the rich and tragic lives of The Last Call Killer’s victims and exposes the system that allowed them to be silenced. Called “astonishing,” “powerful,” and “meticulously
reported” - David Grann (New York Times bestselling author of KILLERS of the FLOWER MOON)
Elon Green has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The Columbia Journalism Review, and appears in the anthology Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit & Obsession. He is an editor at Longform.
Hugh Ryan is a writer and curator. His first book, When Brooklyn Was Queer, won a 2020 New York City Book Award and was a New York Times Editors' Choice in 2019, and was a finalist for the Randy Shilts and Lambda Literary Awards. His next book, The Prison on Christopher Street, explores NYC's Women's House of Detention and the queer case for prison abolition. @Hugh_Ryan / hughryan.org
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Princeton historian and CNN Political Analyst Julian Zelizer shares the history of the "new" Republican party with Bruce McGuirk, leader of Pages Through the Ages, Westport Library's history discussion group. In BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party, Zelizer pinpoints the moment when our country was set on a path towards the current era of bitterly partisan politics, arguing that Newt Gingrich’s ruthless political strategies in the 1980s inspired some of the most divisive episodes in contemporary American politics.
This is a virtual event, please register. Bookplate signed copies of the new paperback are available for purchase.
Community Partner: League of Women Voters of Westport
Elected to Congress in 1978, Gingrich quickly became one of the most powerful figures in America through a calculated campaign of attacks against political adversaries. He weaponized newly introduced government reforms against corruption and used them to attack his opponents. At the same time, post-Watergate investigative journalism--meant to hold Washington accountable--became a partisan weapon, as Gingrich and his allies manipulated well-meaning reporters. Gingrich routinely mixed fact and fiction and smeared opponents through a new, brass-knuckles form of politics. Ultimately, Gingrich orchestrated the demise of the most powerful Democrat in the country, Speaker Jim Wright, and led Republicans to their first majority in Congress in decades.
Gingrich’s brand of warfare worked not as a strategy for governance but as a path to power. What Gingrich planted, his fellow Republicans reaped, and Democrats failed to take an effective stand against this turn. Partisanship came to define how elected officials dealt with almost every issue, ranging from who should lead the parties to mundane budgeting matters to decisions over war and peace. We see Gingrich’s legacy throughout US politics today: The Republican Party’s denial of the 2020 election results, the misinformation campaign that contributed to the January 6th insurrection, and the enduring triumph of partisanship over political ideals all have links to the sea change that Gingrich created in the 1980s. Like a narrative alarm bell, BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE rings with urgency as Zelizer both enlightens us about a pivotal time in American life and provides essential context for America’s current political crisis.
Julian E. Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University, a CNN political analyst, and a contributor to NPR’s Here & Now. His most recent books are Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974 (co-authored with Kevin Kruse) and The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society, winner of the D.B. Hardeman Prize for best book on Congress. Zelizer has been awarded fellowships from the New-York Historical Society, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and New America.
Powers of Congress
How a Bill Becomes a Law
Biographies of American Politicians
In her book, WE NEED NEW STORIES: The Myths that Subvert Freedom, Nesrine Malik will examine six political myths used to deflect and discredit demands for social justice with Catherine Lewis.
Exploring how political myths function, she breaks down how they are employed to subvert calls for equality from historically disenfranchised groups. Interweaving reportage with an incendiary analysis of American history and politics, she offers a compelling account of how calls to preserve "free speech" are used against the vulnerable; how a fixation with "wokeness," "political correctness," and "cancel culture" is in fact an organized and well-funded campaign by elites; and how the fear of racial minorities and their “identity politics” obscures the biggest threat of all—white terrorism. What emerges is a radical framework for understanding the crises roiling American contemporary politics in this "Publishers Weekly most anticipated book of Spring 2021."
This is a virtual event, please register.
Purchase a copy of WE NEED NEW STORIES.
Nesrine Malik is an award-winning British-Sudanese columnist and features writer for the Guardian. WE NEED NEW STORIES is her first book. She lives in London.
Catherine Lewis, LCSW, MS, is a member of the teaching faculty at Ackerman Institute for the Family and the Director of Ackerman's Foster Care and Adoption Project (FCAP). Catherine specializes in working with individuals and families impacted by interpersonal and systemic trauma. She maintains a small private practice in New York City and Westport, working with families, couples and children and is a member of TEAM Westport.
Read The Guardian's review.
Towards a More Perfect Union: Confronting Racism
Own Voice Booklist
Stop Racial Injustice
As Confederate monuments come down in U.S. cities, America is once again grappling with its racist past. For Ty Seidule, a retired Brigadier General in the U.S. Army and Professor Emeritus of History at West Point, this issue is personal. Brought up to revere Robert E. Lee, Seidule once believed that the Confederates were romantic underdogs who lost the Civil War with honor. Seidule will discuss his new book, ROBERT E. LEE AND ME: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause, with Maggie Mudd, former Westport Library trustee. Seidule describes how he confronted the racist legacy at the core of his identity and challenges the persistent myths of the Lost Cause.
If you missed this event, you can watch the recording here.
“Seidule openly confronts his own indifference to racism, and this absorbing book will be of value to anyone interested in how history informs our present.”—Library Journal, Starred Review
“A timely, powerful, compelling – and courageous – book. In Robert E. Lee and Me, Brigadier General Ty Seidule takes readers on a fascinating intellectual journey...This is a book of enormous importance and tremendous insight, a book that only a true southerner – and a true historian – could have written.”—General David Petraeus, US Army (Ret.), former Commander of the Surge in Iraq, US Central Command, and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan and former Director of the CIA.
Ty Seidule is Professor Emeritus of History at West Point where he taught for two decades. He served in the U.S. Army for thirty-six years, retiring as a brigadier general in 2020. He is the Chamberlain Fellow at Hamilton College as well as a New America Fellow. He has published numerous books, articles, and videos on military history including the award-winning West Point History of the Civil War. Ty graduated from Washington and Lee University and holds a PhD from the Ohio State University.
Maggie Mudd moved from New York to Westport 26 years ago to start married life and raise a family. She served 12 years as a Trustee of the Board of the Westport Library, which she credits with curing her trepidation about moving to a small town. She grew up in big cities around the world and had an international career, principally in banking; she also worked at the Commerce Department, the I.M.F., and the non-profit, Financial Services Volunteer Corps. As the daughter of a career diplomat, and with 2 career Army officers among her close relatives who served in sensitive spots, she naturally developed an amateur interest in political-military relations and international conflict prevention.
The American Civil War
Towards a More Perfect Union: Confronting Racism
American Government: The Thirteenth Amendment
"Race, poverty, inadequate legal assistance, and prosecutorial indifference to innocence conspired to create a textbook example of injustice. I can’t think of a case that more urgently dramatizes the need for reform than what has happened to Anthony Ray Hinton."
Join acclaimed filmmaker Trey Ellis as he sits down with Anthony Ray Hinton for a riveting conversation about race, wrongful incarceration, and social justice.
Please note: This is a virtual event. REGISTER HERE
Anthony Ray Hinton walked out of the Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham, Alabama, a free man for the first time in 30 years at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, April 3, 2015.
“The sun does shine,” he said as he was embraced by family and friends.
Trey Ellis is an American Book Award Winning novelist, Emmy and Peabody-winning filmmaker, playwright and Professor of Screenwriting in the Graduate School of Film at Columbia University. Most recently he was an Executive Producer, interviewer and co-field director for the HBO documentary True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight For Equality, and Executive Producer and interviewer for King in the Wilderness, also for HBO.
Community Partner: United Nations Association of Southwest Connecticut
Stop Racial Injustice
African American History
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion