Some years back, Robert Dallek and I spoke about our respective books to a small group of history aficionados gathered in the lovely dining room at the lovely Hay-Adams hotel, near the White House. I spoke first but lost track of the time, a bit, and went about ten minutes over and into Robert's allotment. He was gracious. I felt bad. He was and is a titan among American historians. To help me make it up to him, consider buying his new book. Or one of his old ones--he's published twenty-one of them.
"38 Nooses" is a finalist for the Library of Virginia's 15th annual Literary Award in nonfiction, to be awarded in Richmond on October 19.
Past winners and finalists include works by Rebecca Skloot, Tony Horwitz, David A. Taylor, Drew Gilpin Faust, Annette Gordon-Reed, and Joseph J. Ellis, among many others. The other finalists in nonfiction this year are "Help Me to Find My People" by Heather Andrea Williams, and "Martha Jefferson Randolph, Daughter of Monticello," by my fellow GMU professor Cynthia A. Kierner. Honored to be in their company!
Mason/DC-area people: I'm speaking at Fall for the Book tomorrow at 4:30 on the Johnson Center plaza. (Sandy Spring tent.) My fourth appearance at the event, the first connected to 38 Nooses. Hope to see some new and familiar faces. And if you can't make my reading, still plenty going on all week and into the weekend: See schedule below for all the literary goodies.
Just finished taping a conversation with Bob Kustra, host of NPR's Reader's Corner. Covered lots and lots of ground, so much so that the interview will appear in two parts, dates and times to be announced soon. Check out his list of previous guests and subscribe to the podcast. Bob knows books!
Paperback publication day for 38 Nooses! Big events coming up: A new NPR interview, a reading at Fall for the Book here in VA on Thursday, Sept. 26, reviews and articles forthcoming, and much more. I'll post details as each event approaches.
An excellent evening last night at the Boston Athenaeum, where I delivered the John Hubbard Sturgis Eaton Annual Endowed Lecture on 38 Nooses and the Dakota War. Enthusiastic and knowledgeable members, gracious hosts, and a reading hall that can't be topped. Washington, D.C. is not without its impressive cultural institutions, of course, but still I'm very envious of Bostonians for their access to such a tradition-rich and well-run membership library. Bonus: snow on the Common this morning.
Momentum is building . . . .
Would I be posting this if the Twin Cities and Washington, D.C. didn't occupy 50% of the top six spots? Nope. But there you have it.
The Virginia Quarterly Review provides a brief, useful, and provocative update on a few books--fiction and nonfiction, 38 Nooses included--that help to fill in the portrait of Abraham Lincoln and his administration. Though I don't agree with the author's dismissive assessment of Goodwin's Team of Rivals, I do second his other recommendations and I appreciate his candor. I'm a huge fan of David Von Drehle's Rise to Greatness, for one, which focuses on Lincoln's 1862, month by month, and provides an excellent companion piece for 38 Nooses (if I may say so).
"Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions."
“What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glanc...e at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”
― Carl Sagan