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Brian Quijada and Nygel D. Robinson - screencap from "A DIOS" video - From the MEXODUS concept album about the Underground Railroad that led south to Mexico.
Brian Quijada/Nygel D. Robinson via YouTube / via YouTube

“Mexodus” is a new musical work by Brian Quijada and Nygel D. Robinson inspired by the estimated 4,000-10,000 enslaved people in the Southern part of the United States who found new lives in Mexico instead moving to the northern United States.

With the support of New York Stage and Film, Quijada and Robinson started working on “Mexodus” at the the beginning of our recent global pandemic. They have been collaborating while physically separate through technology -- releasing one track per month, with accompanying video of the two artists performing, for twelve months. Track 7 was recorded last February at Vassar’s Modfest.

New York Stage and Film will present “Mexodus” at Vassar College on July 17 at 7 p.m. and at Marist College on July 24 at 3 p.m.

Book cover for "The Sacred Band"
Scribner / Scribner

  James Romm is an author, reviewer, and the James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Classics at Bard College in Annandale, New York. 

In his new book, "The Sacred Band," Romm dives into the last decades of ancient Greek freedom leading up to Alexander the Great’s destruction of Thebes and the saga of the greatest military corps of the age, the Theban Sacred Band, a unit composed of 150 pairs of male lovers.

A giant American flag at West Point
Ian Pickus / WAMC

Earlier this month, in the final days of the New York State legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill to establish a commission to prepare for America’s 250th birthday.

The logo for the All Together Now collaborative summer program with the Tang Teaching Museum and other cultural organizations in the Saratoga region
Image courtesy Skidmore College, Tang Teaching Museum

Arts organizations in the Saratoga region are collaborating this summer on a number of exhibitions as they look to recover from coronavirus setbacks.

Book cover for "Forget the Alamo"
Penguin Press / Penguin Press

Most Americans know the story of the Battle of the Alamo as the iconic stand led by Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, William Barret Travis, and other rebels who gallantly fought for independence from Mexico, losing the battle but setting Texas up to win the war.

It is an origin story that has become the beating heart of Texas exceptionalism. The legend is also an American touchstone, a symbol of national resolve. But our next guest, Chris Tomlinson, says that version of events owes more to fantasy than reality.

The new book "Forget The Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth" takes a look at the Alamo myth, its creation and its stubborn endurance—from the historic battle to the present day.

Chris Tomlinson is a columnist for the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News and the author of the New York Times-bestselling "Tomlinson Hill" about his family's slave-owning history in Texas.

Book cover for "Americanon" by Jess McHugh
Dutton / Dutton

Jess McHugh is a writer and researcher whose work has appeared across a variety of national and international publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Nation, TIME, The Paris Review, The Guardian, The New Republic, New York Magazine's The Cut, Fortune, Village Voice, The Believer, and Lapham's Quarterly, among others. She has reported stories from four continents on a range of cultural and historical topics, from present-day Liverpool punks to the history of 1960s activists in Greenwich Village.

In her new book, "Americanon: An Unexpected U.S. History In Thirteen Bestselling Books," she explores the true history of thirteen of the nation’s most popular books: simple dictionaries, spellers, almanacs, and how-to manuals. These overlooked standbys are the unexamined touchstones for American cultures and customs.

American Republics
W. W. Norton & Company

"American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783-1850" by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Alan Taylor upends the traditional story of a young nation confidently marching to its continent-spanning destiny.

The newly constituted United States actually emerged as a fragile, internally divided union of states contending still with European empires and other independent republics on the North American continent. Native peoples sought to defend their homelands from the flood of American settlers through strategic alliances with the other continental powers. 

Poster for "Persou"
thecelltheatre.org

Multi-talented theatre creators Ellpetha Tsivicos and Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez will present the world premiere of “Persou,” an experiential festival celebrating Spring at Nancy Manocherian's the cell Theatre in Manhattan Wednesdays through Saturdays through June 5.

“Persou” is directed by Ellpetha Tsivicos and written by Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez, who previously collaborated in August of last year on the immersive, socially-distanced outdoor play Quince - which marked the first live theatre event in NYC during the Covid-19 pandemic. Ellpetha Tsivicos and Camilo Quiroz-Vazques joined Sarah LaDuke on WAMC’s Instagram “A Face for Radio Video Series” to talk about “Quince” and they’re back to speak their new piece.

 

"Persou" is a participatory experience where audiences will be transported to an ancient ceremony worshipping the Goddess Persefoni at the Temple of Aphrodite in Paphos, Cyprus.

Book cover artwork for "The Secret History of Home Economics"
W. W. Norton & Company

The term “home economics” may conjure traumatic memories of lopsided hand-sewn pillows or sunken muffins. But common conception obscures the story of the revolutionary science of better living. The field exploded opportunities for women in the twentieth century by reducing domestic work and providing jobs as professors, engineers, chemists, and businesspeople. And it has something to teach us today.

In "The Secret History of Home Economics," Danielle Dreilinger traces the field’s history from Black colleges to Eleanor Roosevelt to Okinawa, from a Betty Crocker brigade to DIY techies. These women (and they were mostly women) became chemists and marketers, studied nutrition, health, and exercise, tested parachutes, created astronaut food, and took bold steps in childhood development and education.

Danielle Dreilinger is a former New Orleans Times-Picayune education reporter and a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow. She also wrote for the Boston Globe and worked at the Boston NPR station WGBH.

Book cover for "The Girl from the Channel Islands"
Harper Collins

Inspired by true events, "The Girl from the Channel Islands" by Jenny Lecoat tells the riveting story of a young Jewish woman trapped on the occupied island of Jersey during World War II.

In June 1940, the Channel Islands are occupied by Hitler’s forces. Hedy Bercu is a young Jewish woman who fled from Vienna to escape the Anschluss. She finds herself once more trapped by the Nazis, on the tiny island of Jersey. Concealing her racial status, Hedy finds work with the German authorities as a translator and embarks on acts of resistance.

Book cover for "No Common Ground"
The University of North Carolina Press

When it comes to Confederate monuments, there is no common ground. Polarizing debates over their meaning have intensified into legislative maneuvering to preserve the statues, legal battles to remove them, and rowdy crowds taking matters into their own hands. These conflicts have raged for well over a century--but they've never been as intense as they are today.

In "No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice," Karen L. Cox depicts what these statues meant to those who erected them and how a movement arose to force a reckoning. 

Book cover for "Eternal"
G.P. Putnam's Sons

Unfolding over decades, Lisa Scottoline’s new novel "Eternal" is a saga of loyalty and loss, family and food, love and hate - all set in one of the world's most beautiful cities at its darkest moment.

Scottoline has been researching the Italian Holocaust since her undergraduate days when she took an intimate year-long seminar at the University of Pennsylvania taught by the late Philip Roth called “The Literature of the Holocaust,” studying the work of Primo Levi, among others.

Following that course, she knew that someday she’d write about these events. Her background as an Italian-American, a lawyer, and an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School fueled her interest in the subject. After she conducted decades of research, including numerous trips to Italy, "Eternal" was born.

Star D'Angelo is the new executive director of the Hart Cluett Museum in Troy, NY.
Provided photo

The Hart Cluett Museum in Troy, New York has tapped an industry veteran as its new executive director. Star D’Angelo, who most recently served as director of philanthropy and strategic initiatives at the Palace Performing Arts Center in Albany, takes over for Karin Krasevac-Lenz, who retired earlier this year.

Artwork for Celtic dreams concert
albanypromusic.org

The Musicians of Ma’alwyck is partnering with Albany Pro Musica in a concert of traditional Celtic and American music this weekend. The program features choral and instrumental arrangements of beloved folk music from both sides of the Atlantic and can be seen on WMHT-TV or online.

And then online - after the concert – there will be a special discussion with local experts about the artistic and economic legacy, in the Capital Region and beyond, of immigrants from Ireland and across the British Isles. Rex Smith moderates a lively conversation with former state assembly member and Albany historian Jack McEneny, Dr. Elizabeth Stack, executive director of the Irish American Heritage Museum, and cultural and linguistic anthropologist Jennifer Crowley of the University at Albany. We welcome José Daniel Flores-Caraballo, Opalka Family Artistic Director of Albany Pro Musica; Rex Smith, APM Board Member; and Jack McEneny, Guest Panelist.

A COVID-19 vaccination site at the University at Albany
Jesse King / WAMC

It was on March 1, 2020 that New York state confirmed the first case of a novel coronavirus that would eventually change everyday life across the United States and the world. So how will history treat this COVID-19 era? Since early 2020, Madison County Historian Matt Urtz has been compiling a timeline of key events and personal stories in hopes of chipping away at that monumental task.

The new book "400 Souls" is a unique one volume community history of African Americans. The editors Ibram X. Kendi and Keyshia Blaine have assembled 90 brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five year period of that 400 year span.

The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives. Through the eyes of towering historical icons are the untold stories of ordinary people through places laws and objects.

provided

-- Berkshire Ollie Event Info -- 

"The King of Rock and Roll" was born 86-years ago today. Elvis Presley is one of the most revolutionary cultural icons of the 20th century, his musical legacy continues to rock the world today.

So, on his birthday, Roselle Kline Chartock is here to tell us about her new book "The Jewish World of Elvis Presley." Despite growing up in a fundamentalist Christian family in the Deep South - an area sometimes known for its anti-Semitism - Elvis Presley nevertheless developed a deep affinity to Jews.

This book looks to answer the questions: What accounted for this deep affinity? And what was the nature of the personal relationships Elvis developed with the Jews he befriended in Memphis - including merchants and members of his inner circle, the Memphis Mafia - and those he met in the music and movie industries?

Book cover for "The Last Million"
http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/ / http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/

Historian David Nasaw’s new book, "The Last Million: Europe’s Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War," turns his attention to the gripping yet until now largely hidden story of the one million refugees left behind in Germany following the end of World War II.

Book cover for "Break it Up" by Richard Kreitner
Little Brown and Company / www.littlebrown.com

The United States has never lived up to its name—and never will. The disunionist impulse may have found its greatest expression in the Civil War, but as "Break It Up" by Richard Kreitner shows, the seduction of secession wasn’t limited to the South or the nineteenth century. It was there at our founding and has never gone away.

Kreitner is a contributing writer to The Nation. He is the author of "Booked: A Traveler’s Guide to Literary Locations Around the World."

Book cover artwork for "Cassandra Speaks"
harpercollins.com / harpercollins.com

Co-founder of the Omega Institute, Elizabeth Lesser, believes that if women’s voices had been equally heard and respected throughout history, humankind would have followed different hero myths and guiding stories—stories that value caretaking, champion compassion, and elevate communication over vengeance and violence. She joined us to talk about her new book, "Cassandra Speaks."

By the time of his assassination in 1963, John F. Kennedy stood at the helm of the greatest power the world had ever seen, a booming American nation that he had steered through some of the most perilous diplomatic standoffs of the Cold War.

Born in 1917 to a striving Irish American family that had become among Boston’s wealthiest, Kennedy knew political ambition from an early age, and his meteoric rise to become the youngest elected president cemented his status as one of the most mythologized figures in American history.

Fredrik Logevall is Laurence Belfer Professor of International Affairs and professor of history at Harvard University. He has spent much of the last decade searching for the “real” JFK. His new book is "JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956."

Last year, a best-selling author Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch wrote "The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington," a best-seller that was praised by critics, historians, and two U.S. presidents for its research and propulsive narrative.

Now Meltzer and Mensch return to uncover another fascinating episode previously lost to history in the new book, "The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America's 16th President and Why it Failed." In our current climate of uncertainty and fear, the book is a reminder of the capacity for American greatness in the form of one of its most lauded and inspirational heroes, Abraham Lincoln.

The final volume of Ian Toll’s definitive history of the Pacific War, "Twilight of the Gods: War in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945," comes on the 75th anniversary of the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay marking the formal close of World War II.

It is narrative history, full of drama and the texture of lived reality, of decisions and actions with consequences. The book encompasses all aspects of the war, bringing each into focus, arresting both the heroic and tragic, the powerful and powerless, diplomat and warrior, sailor and admiral, American and Japanese, winner and loser - one that by its conclusion had transformed the future of the 20th century and beyond.

Ian Toll’s past books include the New York Times bestseller "The Conquering Tide," "Pacific Crucible," and "Six Frigates."

According to Dissent Magazine, Joshua Bennett is “one of the most impressive voices in poetry today… quietly building a reputation as one the brightest intellectual and political thinkers of a new generation.” Bennett’s new collection, "OWED," perfectly melds his apt social and political commentary with the warmth and familiarity of the human experience.

This collection serves as an open letter to the people, places, and objects that have colored Bennett’s past and led to his present. Bennett’s primary concern is how we might mend the relationship between ourselves and the things that we have been taught to think of as insignificant.

In "OWED," Bennett speaks to the expansive range of registers within the world of black aesthetics and experience: the joy, rage, love, terror, and awe that gives a world within a world all its shape and tenor.

In his new book "Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History," Kurt Andersen asks the question: When did America give up on fairness? The bestselling author of "Fantasyland" tells the history of how America decided that big business gets whatever it wants, only the rich get richer, and nothing should ever change and charts a way back to the future.

Joe Donahue: Steve Shenkin's book "Bomb: The Race to Build-and Steal- The World's Most Dangerous Weapon" was a National Book Award finalist, a Newbery Honor book and really required reading for anyone who is interested in what happened in 1945, with the dropping of the atomic bomb. 

Book cover for "A Burning" by Megha Majumdar
Knopf / Knopf

Joe Donaue: Megha Majumdar's debut novel "A Burning" is about three characters whose lives become entwined after a terrorist attack in India. It is taut, electrifying, and dazzling. Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums determined to move up in life who is accused of executing a terrorist attack on a train because of a careless comment on Facebook. PT Sir is an opportunistic gym teacher who hitches his aspirations to a right wing political party, and finds that his own ascent becomes linked to Jivan's fall. Lovely is an irresistible outcast who has the alibi that can set Jivan free, but it will cost her everything that she holds dear. Megha Majumdar grew up in Kolkata, India and studied social anthropology at Harvard and Johns Hopkins. She is currently an editor at Catapult. This is her first novel. 

Joe Donahue: Welcome to The Book Show, a celebration of reading and writers. I'm Joe Donohue. In Sue Monk Kidd's, new novel, "The Book of Longing", she imagines a young woman named Ana, who becomes the wife of Jesus. The novel explores many of the signature themes in Kidd's fiction: feminism, the search for self, the quest for one's voice and purpose, and the power of female community. In particular, this novel explores the longings and virtuosities in women, as well as their silencing and marginalization within Western religion. The story evokes a seminal question: how would the world be different if Jesus had had a wife? Sue Monk Kidd's debut, "The Secret Life of Bees" spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, it has sold more than 6 million copies. Her other novels include "The Mermaid Chair" and "The Invention of Wings". Again, the latest is "The Book of Longings". 

Schenectady County Historical Society

The COVID-19 outbreak has already proven to be a significant event in world history. And now one local organization wants to collect and preserve the stories of ordinary people living through it. 

The Hart Cluett Museum’s ‘The Way We Work(ed)’ exhibit, will open to the public tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.The exhibit was organized by The Hart Cluett Museum in collaboration with the Smithsonian as part of a pilot project to develop a unique humanities-based exhibition about local work history. The museum is one of just 10 museums in the United States chosen through a competitive selection process.

The exhibit is divided into four sections: “Where We Work,” “How We Work,” “Who Works?” and “Why We Work.” An advisory panel consisting of more than two dozen area professionals from widely different facets of the region’s workplaces was assembled to provide a contemporary perspective on the ever-changing nature of work. The panel included experts from backgrounds in technology, construction, agriculture, education and workforce development, among others.

Stacy Pomeroy Draper, the Curator of the Hart Cluett Museum joins us this morning.

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