Free Book Talks
June 23, 2019
Louisa on the Frontlines; 1:30 p.m
About the book: Louisa on the Frontlines is the first narrative nonfiction book focusing on the least-known aspect of Louisa May Alcott’s career - her time spent as a nurse during the Civil War. Though her service was brief, the dramatic experience was one that she considered pivotal in helping her write the beloved classic Little Women. It also deeply affected her tenuous relationship with her father, and inspired her commitment to abolitionism. Through it all, she kept a journal and wrote letters to her family and friends. These letters were published in the newspaper, and her subsequent book, Hospital Sketches spotlighted the dire conditions of the military hospitals and the suffering endured by the wounded soldiers she cared for. To this day, her work is considered a pioneering account of military nursing.
About Samantha Seiple: Seiple enjoys uncovering forgotten and little-known aspects of history and meticulously crafting the factual story to read like a novel. Louisa on the Front Lines is her first biographical account for the adult audience. Her previous narrative nonfiction books for young adults include Ghosts in the Fog: The Untold Story of Alaska’s WWII Invasion, a YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Nominee and a Junior Library Guild Selection; Lincoln’s Spymaster: America’s First Private Eye, a Junior Library Guild Selection; Byrd & Igloo: A Polar Adventure; and Death on the River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Amazon Adventure, a Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Gold Award winner.
July 28, 2019
Meade and Lee After Gettysburg; 1:30 p.m
About the Book: Meade and Lee After Gettysburg, the first of three volumes on the campaigns waged between the two adversaries from July 14 through the end of 1863, relies on the Official Records, regimental histories, letters, newspapers, and other sources to provide a day-by-day account of this fascinating high-stakes affair. The vivid prose, coupled with original maps and outstanding photographs, offers a significant contribution to Civil War literature.
Thanks to Hunt these important two weeks—until now overshadowed by the battle of Gettysburg and almost completely ignored by writers of Civil War history—have finally gotten the attention they have long deserved. Readers will never view the Gettysburg Campaign the same way.
About the Author:Jeffrey William Hunt is Director of the Texas Military Forces Museum, the official museum of the Texas National Guard, located at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, and an Adjunct Professor of History at Austin Community College, where he has taught since 1988. Prior to taking the post at the Texas Military Forces Museum, he was the Curator of Collections and Director of the Living History Program at the Admiral Nimitz National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas for 11 years. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Government and a Masters Degree in History, both from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2013, Mr. Hunt was appointed an honorary Admiral in the Texas Navy by Governor Rick Perry, in recognition of his efforts to tell the story of the Texas naval forces at the Texas Military Forces Museum. At both the Texas Military Forces Museum and the Admiral Nimitz Museum he has organized and conducted hundreds of living history programs for the general public. He is a veteran reenactor of the War Between the States as well as the War of 1812, the Texas Revolution, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. He is a frequent speaker for a wide variety of organizations as well as documentaries and news programs.
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. Stories rarely if ever told of nurses, surgeons, ambulance workers, musicians, teenage fighters, and others are weaved seamlessly through gripping, smooth-flowing prose.
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. Ronald and his wife, Barbara, live in York. They have two daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren.
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 :Early in my career as a CIA analyst, I arrayed facts as one might arrange bits of tile to create a mosaic. I argued with others, who, using the same facts, created a different montage, a different story. We debated the details, forged consensus, presented alternatives. Our analyses went to our country’s top leaders. They took action based on what we wrote. I learned that words matter. Over the course of my career I’ve worked in all of the Agency’s major directorates, with scientists, agents, seventh-floor officials, and while the topics and people changed, the common denominator of my experience was a simple instrument: my pen. Now, I’m free to chart my own course. As a former Senior Intelligence Officer with decades of writing experience and post-graduate degrees in Government from Georgetown and Writing from Johns Hopkins, I’ve set my sights on freelance writing—with a focus on people.