Free Book Talks

books

September 15, 2019
Barnum: An American Life; 1:30 p.m

About the Book: Barnum is the first major biography of the circus entrepreneur P. T. Barnum in a generation. It vividly captures the full genius, infamy, and allure of the ebullient showman who, Robert Wilson argues, was one of the most important Americans of the 19th century.    

About the Author: Robert Wilson is also the author of The Explorer King (2006), a biography of a 19th-century explorer of the American West, and of Mathew Brady: Portraits of a Nation (2013), about the Civil War photographer. He is the editor of The American Scholar magazine and has lived in Manassas for 32 years.


September 22, 2019
Too Much for Human Endurance: The George Spangler Farm Hospitals and the Battle of Gettysburg; 1:30 p.m

About the Book: The bloodstains are gone, but the worn floorboards remain. The doctors, nurses, and patients who toiled and suffered and ached for home at the Army of the Potomac’s XI Corps hospital at the George Spangler Farm in Gettysburg have long since departed. Happily, though, their stories remain, and noted journalist and George Spangler Farm expert Ronald D. Kirkwood brings these people and their experiences to life in "Too Much for Human Endurance": The George Spangler Farm Hospitals and the Battle of Gettysburg.

Using a massive array of firsthand accounts, Kirkwood re-creates the sprawling XI Corps hospital complex and the people who labored and suffered there—especially George and Elizabeth Spangler and their four children, who built a thriving 166-acre farm only to witness it nearly destroyed when war paid them a bloody visit that summer of 1863. 

About the Author:Ronald D. Kirkwood is retired after a 40-year career as an editor and writer in newspapers and magazines including USA TODAY, the Baltimore Sun, the Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News, and the York (PA) Daily Record. Ronald edited national magazines for USA TODAY Sports and was NFL editor for USA TODAY Sports Weekly. He has won numerous state, regional, and national awards for his writing and editing and he managed the copy desk in Harrisburg when the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012. Ronald is a native of Dowagiac/Sister Lakes, MI, and a graduate of Central Michigan University, where he has returned as guest speaker to journalism classes as part of the school’s Hearst Visiting Professionals series. Ronald has been a Gettysburg Foundation docent at The George Spangler Farm Field Hospital Site since it opened in 2013, and he explores the Gettysburg battlefield dozens of times a year. 

October 20, 2019
Hall of Mirrors (Virginia Hall: America's Greatest Spy of World War II); 1:30 p.m

About the book: Hall of Mirror" is the story of Virginia Hall-a former State Department clerk who, after losing her leg in a hunting accident, suffered discrimination, quit and was recruited to become the Allies’ first spy to live behind the lines in WW II France. She organized resistance groups, conducted sabotage operations, and reported secret intelligence back to the Allies. Eventually betrayed, Hall escaped the Gestapo’s Klaus Barbie (the "Butcher of Lyon") by crossing the snow-capped Pyrenees, dragging her prosthetic limb behind her. Despite her harrowing escape, Virginia demanded to return to France. Her spymasters refused, telling her it was a suicide mission. But Virginia ignored the dangers-certain capture, horrible torture, a painful death-and returned to France on the eve of the D-Day invasion.

About the Author: Craig Gralley joined the Central Intelligence Agency and over the course of his career, he's served as a senior officer in most of the agency's directorates--including a stint as Chief Speechwriter for three CIA directors. With graduate degrees from Georgetown University (Government) and Johns Hopkins (Writing), Craig is now a freelance writer and author focused on the inspiring stories of quiet heroes.