Tony Horwitz “Midnight Rising”

October 25th, 2011

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Tony  Horwitz

John Brown. Hero? Martyr? Or traitor? Terrorist? Brown’s audacious raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859, with the aim of launching a slave uprising, remains one of the most controversial episodes in American history, and Brown himself one of the most divisive figures.

Tony  HorwitzHorwitz

Yet, think about what most of us learned about it in school, and it’s almost embarrassing how little we know about John Brown and the raid that most agree set the stage for the Civil War.

Now in his book “Midnight Rising” Tony Horwitz takes a fresh new look at Brown, the men and women who helped him, and how the raid really affected our nation’s history.

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Stephen Greenblatt “The Swerve”

October 12th, 2011

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Six centuries ago a man combing through dusty old books in a monastery library found a genuine treasure, the last surviving copy of the ancient Roman philosophical epic “On the Nature of Things” by Lucretius. Thus the butterfly flapped its wings, and within a couple of centuries, there was a hurricane of change, moving the world from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance.

Stephen  Greenblatt

It was a swerve, says scholar Stephen Greenblatt, who revisits the impact that one book by Lucretius had in turning the world “modern,” in his new book “The Swerve.”

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Laurence Bergreen “Columbus: The Four Voyages”

October 7th, 2011

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Laurence  Bergreen

“In fourteen hundred and 92, Columbus sailed the ocean blue …”That little refrain is just about the extent of what many folks know about the man we honor with a national holiday.

Laurence  BergreenBergreen

When acclaimed biographer Laurence Bergreen started researching his new biography “Columbus: The Four Voyages,” he was startled at the reaction of some friends who said, “Four voyages? He made four?” Bergreen has carefully researched the decade-long Columbus exploration of the New World — actually the Caribbean, a little bit of South America, a brush with Central America — to tell the story of this man who was a brilliant sailor but an inept, cruel, and megalomaniacal governor.

Listen to Laurence Bergreen

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Jane Wilson McWilliams “Annapolis, City on the Severn”

July 20th, 2011

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Annapolis, Maryland is a small city, best known, perhaps, as the home of the United States Naval Academy. But its role in American history is large, indeed larger than many people realize. Annapolis was over a century old by the time of the American Revolution. It was, briefly, the capital of the United States, and it’s where a bold move by George Washington one December day set America on the course it has followed ever since.

Jane Wilson McWilliams

Yet no one had ever written a complete, annotated history of Annapolis, from colonial days through the late twentieth century. Until now. Jane Wilson McWilliams spent a dozen years painstakingly tracking down facts, names, stories, photos, and legends for her book “Annapolis, City on the Severn.”

Jane Wilson McWilliamsMcWilliams

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George Nethercutt “In Tune with America”

July 15th, 2011

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George  NethercuttNethercutt

You’ll be humming along in no time, as you read an unusual history book written by former Congressman George George Nethercutt. The Republican from Washington state draws on a wide variety of music — pop, folk, classical, traditional — to tell America’s story.

George  Nethercutt

His publisher calls the book “a gateway to better citizenship,” and Nethercutt says it helps put the milestones of American history in a cultural context, It’s called “In Tune with America.”

Listen to George Nethercutt

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