history

  Austerlitz, Borodino, Waterloo: his battles are among the greatest in history, but Napoleon Bonaparte was far more than a military genius and astute leader of men. Like George Washington and his own hero Julius Caesar, he was one of the greatest soldier-statesmen of all times.

Andrew Roberts’ Napoleon: A Life is the first one-volume biography to take advantage of the recent publication of Napoleon’s thirty-three thousand letters, which radically transform our understanding of his character and motivation.

  The play, Life in a Jar tells the story of Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker, who assisted in hiding over 2,000 Jewish children who had been living in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II.

While the play dramatizes Jewish life in the Warsaw Ghetto during the war; it relays, as importantly, the heroic story of the 'righteous gentiles' who put their lives and that of their families at grave risk to save others by forging documents and hiding and placing Jewish children in convents and Polish homes

The impact of the Irena Sendler Project are many, including the book - Life in a Jar by Jack Mayer who will be attending two performances at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs and will take part in the Q and A following the play.

  Mademoiselle Chanel is an insightful and well-researched book of the extraordinary fashion designer Coco Chanel - the ambitious, gifted laundry woman’s daughter who revolutionized fashion, built an international empire, and became one of the most influential and controversial figures of the 20th century.

Author C.W. Gortner’s recreates the inner life of this woman of staggering ambition who transformed the fashion world with the strength, passion, and artistic vision that became her trademark.

Lenox Library Association

Nearly 2,300 items from the Lenox Library just completed a journey from the bookshelves to the internet. It’s part of an effort to preserve history while meeting researchers the curious where they populate in the 21st century.

The French Revolution challenged the foundation of the social order in essentially every political structure in Europe. In his new book, Phantom Terror: Political Paranoia and the Creation of the Modern State, 1789-1848, historian Adam Zamoyski examines the years after the French Revolution when conservative governments from Britain to Russia responded to France’s Revolution. With the hope of protecting their own power against the threat of rebellion, they implemented various forces which policed both the speech and actions of civilians.

Although Zamoyski focuses on a fixed period in human history, his novel provides a fascinating insight into how human beings operate when motivated by power.

  Peter Carey is a two-time winner of the Man Booker Prize - and he's one of only three authors to have won Prize twice. Carey’s newest novel is Amnesia, a cyber-terrorism political thriller that explores Australia’s history and politics, and its quasi-colonial relationship with the United States, during three different periods of recent history: the 1940s, the 1970s, and the present-day era of cybersecurity, hackers, and WikiLeaks.

  Every American president, when faced with a crisis, longs to take bold and decisive action. When American lives or vital interests are at stake, the public—and especially the news media and political opponents—expect aggressive leadership. But, contrary to the dramatizations of Hollywood, rarely does a president have that option.

  In Pictures at a Revolution, Mark Harris turned the story of the five movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967 into a landmark work of cultural history, a book about the transformation of an art form and the larger social shift it signified.

In his new book, Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and The Second World War, he achieves something larger and even more remarkable, giving us the untold story of how Hollywood changed World War II, and how World War II changed Hollywood, through the prism of five film directors caught up in the war: John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens.

  In Mea Culpa: Lessons on Law and Regret from U.S. History, Steven W. Bender examines how the United States’ collective shame about its past has shaped the evolution of law and behavior.

We regret slavery and segregationist Jim Crow laws. We eventually apologize, while ignoring other oppressions, and our legal response to regret often fails to be transformative for the affected groups.

  

  There will be a Black History Month event at The Egg in Albany on Saturday, Feb. 28, that will combine music, speeches and a panel discussion to mark the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights marches and to discuss ongoing civil rights efforts.

They keynote speakers will be Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed and Colia Liddell Lafayette Clark.

Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed joins us. His most recent book is The Selma Awakening: How the Civil Rights Movement Tested and Changed Unitarian Universalism.

  Richard Rhodes is the Pulitzer Prize–winning and bestselling author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

His new book, Hell and Good Company: The Spanish Civil War and the World it Made, tells the remarkable story of the Spanish Civil War through the eyes of the reporters, writers, artists, doctors, and nurses who witnessed it.

  The modern-day European Union was crafted in large part to minimize built-in geopolitical tensions that historically have torn it apart.

As George Friedman demonstrates in Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis In Europe, with a mix of rich history and cultural analysis, that design is failing.

  How did the Vietnam War change the way we think of ourselves as a people and a nation? Christian Appy, author of the oral history of the Vietnam War Patriots, now examines the relationship between the war’s realities and myths and its impact on our national identity, conscience, pride, shame, popular culture, and postwar foreign policy.

Drawing on a vast variety of sources from movies, songs, and novels to official documents, media coverage, and contemporary commentary, Appy offers an interpretation of the war and its far-reaching consequences. The new book is American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity.

He will be speaking about and signing his new book at Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, MA on Tuesday, February 24th.

  The world is blowing up. Every day a new blaze seems to ignite: the bloody implosion of Iraq and Syria; the East-West standoff in Ukraine; abducted schoolgirls in northern Nigeria. Is there some thread tying these frightening international security crises together?

In a riveting account that weaves history with fast-moving reportage and insider accounts from the Afghanistan war, Sarah Chayes identifies the unexpected link - corruption - in her book, Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security.

    In January, 1649 -- after seven years of fighting in the bloodiest war in Britain's history, Parliament had overpowered King Charles I and now faced a problem: what to do with a defeated king, a king who refused to surrender? Parliamentarians resolved to do the unthinkable, to disregard the Divine Right of Kings and hold Charles I to account for the appalling suffering and slaughter endured by his people. A tribunal of 135 men was hastily gathered in London, and although Charles refused to acknowledge the power of his subjects to try him, the death sentence was unanimously passed. On an icy winter's day on a scaffold outside Whitehall, in an event unique in English history, the King of England was executed. When the dead king's son, Charles II, was restored to the throne, he set about enacting a deadly wave of retribution against all those - the lawyers, the judges, the officers on the scaffold - responsible for his father's death. Some of the 'regicides' - the killers of the king - pleaded for mercy, while others stoically awaited their sentence.

Bestselling historian Charles Spencer explores this violent clash of ideals through the individuals whose fates were determined by that one, momentous decision in his book Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I.

  

  We are very happy to continue our regular feature – Ideas Matter: Checking in with the Public Humanities.

Today we check in with Mass Humanities to find out about the Disability History Museum, an online resource and archive that focuses on the history of disability and disability policy in the United States.

We are joined by Laurie Block, founder of the DHM, and Pleun Bouricius, Director of Grants and Programs for Mass Humanities. With them, we will explore the value and creation of online digital humanities resources, as well as this amazing collection of materials on the history of disability.

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Two historic hotels in the region are moving a step closer to finding new life in their communities. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports on the latest developments in Saratoga Springs and Cambridge.

  Sailing down the river that would later bear his captain’s name, explorer Robert Juet described the Hudson River Valley in 1609 as a “drowned land” submerged by a “great lake of water.” Over the next two centuries, this drowned landscape would be the site of a truly historic flowering of art, literature, architecture, innovation, and revolutionary fervor—drawing comparisons to another fertile cultural haven built around a might mighty river in Western Europe.

As historian Vernon Benjamin chronicles in The History Of The Hudson River Valley: From Wilderness To The Civil War, the Hudson River Valley has been a place of contradictions since its first settlement by Europeans. Discovered by an Englishman who claimed it for the Dutch, the region soon became home to the most vibrant trading outpost for the New World colonies—the Island of Manhattan—even as the rest of the valley retained the native beauty that would inspire artists from James Fenimore Cooper to Thomas Cole.

  In the bestselling tradition of The Where, the Why, and the How, The Who, the What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History is an offbeat illustrated history reveals people you've probably never heard of, but who helped shape the word as we know it. Muses and neighbors, friends and relatives, accomplices and benefactors—such as Michael and Joy Brown, who gifted Harper Lee a year's worth of wages to help her write To Kill a Mockingbird. Or John Ordway, the colleague who walked with Lewis and Clark every step of the way.

Jenny Volvovski, one of the co-authors, joins us.

    A genius immortalized her. A French king paid a fortune for her. An emperor coveted her. Every year more than 9 million visitors trek to view her portrait in the Louvre.Yet while everyone recognizes her smile, hardly anyone knows her story.

Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered is a blend of biography, history, and memoir about the world’s most recognized face, most revered artist, and most praised and parodied painting.

    In August 1939, curators at the Louvre nestled the world's most famous painting into a special red-velvet-lined case and spirited her away to the Loire Valley. Thus began the biggest evacuation of art and antiquities in history. As the Germans neared Paris in 1940, the French raced to move the masterpieces still further south, then again and again during the war, crisscrossing the southwest of France. At times Mona Lisa slept at the bedside of curators who were painfully aware of their heavy responsibility.

  For the first time, religious self-identification is on the decline in American. Some analysts have cited as cause a post-9/11 perception: that faith in general is a source of aggression, intolerance, and divisiveness—something bad for society. But how accurate is that view?

In her book, Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence, Karen Armstrong sets out to discover the truth about religion and violence in each of the world’s great traditions, taking us on an astonishing journey from prehistoric times to the present.

    When Lions Roar begins in the mid-1930s at Chartwell, Winston Churchill's country estate, with new revelations surrounding a secret business deal orchestrated by Joseph P. Kennedy, the soon-to-be American ambassador to Great Britain and the father of future American president John F. Kennedy. From London to America, these two powerful families shared an ever-widening circle of friends, lovers, and political associates – soon shattered by World War II, spying, sexual infidelity, and the tragic deaths of JFK's sister Kathleen and his older brother Joe Jr. By the 1960s and JFK's presidency, the Churchills and the Kennedys had overcome their bitter differences and helped to define the “greatness” in each other.

Acclaimed biographer Thomas Maier tells this dynastic saga through fathers and their sons – and the remarkable women in their lives – providing keen insight into the Churchill and Kennedy families and the profound forces of duty, loyalty, courage and ambition that shaped them.

    

  Fearless on the battlefield, Churchill had to be ordered by the king to stay out of action on D-Day; he pioneered aerial bombing and few could match his experience in organizing violence on a colossal scale, yet he hated war and scorned politicians who had not experienced its horrors. He was the most famous journalist of his time and perhaps the greatest orator of all time, despite a lisp and chronic depression he kept at bay by painting.

On the fiftieth anniversary of Churchill’s death, Boris Johnson celebrates the brilliance of one of the most important leaders of the twentieth century in the book, The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History.

  In the summer of 1959, most of the town of Braddock, Pennsylvania---along with half a million steel workers around the country---went on strike in the longest labor stoppage in American history. With no paychecks coming in, the families of Braddock looked to its football team for inspiration.

Author and journalist Greg Nichols writes about it in his book, Striking Gridiron: A Town's Pride and a Team's Shot at Glory During the Biggest Strike in American History.

"Bring the War Home," which had been a rallying cry of the anti-Vietnam-War movement, was transformed on May 4, 1970 into a macabre irony when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on student anti-war protesters at Kent State, killing four and wounding nine. Many, certainly not all, of the anti-war student activists were chauvinist, privileged, white men.

  We are very happy to continue our regular feature – Ideas Matter: Checking in with the Public Humanities. It is our chance to check in with the Humanities Councils throughout our 7-State area to discuss important ideas and why they do indeed matter.

Today we check in with Bob Weible, New York State Historian and Chief Curator for the New York State Museum, and learn about New York History Month.

  The Windsor Mountain School in Lenox, Massachusetts was an ahead of its time boarding school that honored diversity and became the first co-ed integrated boarding school in the Berkshires.

After being a target of the Nazi regime, Max and Gertrud Bondy came to America and opened their school in Windsor, Vermont and later moved to Lenox in 1944.

Families like the Belafontes, Poitiers and Campanellas were attracted to the school for its multi-cultural and international curriculum. Then the school closed in 1975.

  The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered by Laura Auricchio is major biography of the Marquis de Lafayette, French hero of the American Revolution, who, at age nineteen, volunteered to fight under George Washington.

    In her followup to the best-selling Loving Frank, Nancy Horan recounts the improbably love affair between Scottish author, Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny Osbourne.

In The Wide and Starry Sky, Horan invites us to explore The Stevensons unusual relationship and the ways they changed the literary and artistic landscape around them.

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