Monday, January 20, 2014

What's Going on at Boswell This Week? Jennifer Chiaverini, William P. Jones, John Liebert, Jen Percy and Next Monday, Greg Kot.

Monday, January 20, 7 pm, at the Brookfield Public Library:
Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln's Rival.
The Brookfield Public Library is located at 1900 N. Calhoun Road, 53005, pretty close to the Ruby Isle Shopping Center. This event is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Brookfield Public Library and Patched Works.

From the publisher: Kate Chase Sprague was born in 1840 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the second daughter to the second wife of a devout but ambitious lawyer. Her father, Salmon P. Chase, rose to prominence in the antebellum years and was appointed secretary of the treasury in Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet, while aspiring to even greater heights.

Beautiful, intelligent, regal, and entrancing, young Kate Chase stepped into the role of establishing her thrice-widowed father in Washington society and as a future presidential candidate. Her efforts were successful enough that The Washington Star declared her “the most brilliant woman of her day. None outshone her.”

None, that is, but Mary Todd Lincoln. Though Mrs. Lincoln and her young rival held much in common—political acumen, love of country, and a resolute determination to help the men they loved achieve greatness—they could never be friends, for the success of one could come only at the expense of the other. When Kate Chase married William Sprague, the wealthy young governor of Rhode Island, it was widely regarded as the pinnacle of Washington society weddings. President Lincoln was in attendance. The First Lady was not.

Jennifer Chiaverini excels at chronicling the lives of extraordinary yet littleknown women through historical fiction. What she did for Elizabeth Keckley in Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker and for Elizabeth Van Lew in The Spymistress she does for Kate Chase Sprague in Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival.

Read Jim Higgins' review in the Journal Sentinel.

Monday, January 20, 7 pm, at Boswell:
William P. Jones, author of The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights.

William P. Jones is a history professor at the University of Wisconsin Madison, whose areas of focus are race, class, and work. Published in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, it seemed like the perfect event to help celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We're co-sponsoring this event with the UWM Urban Studies Department.

It was the final speech of a long day, August 28, 1963, when hundreds of thousands gathered on the Mall for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In a resounding cadence, Martin Luther King Jr. lifted the crowd when he told of his dream that all Americans would join together to realize the founding ideal of equality. The power of the speech created an enduring symbol of the march and the larger civil rights movement. King's speech still inspires us fifty years later, but its very power has also narrowed our understanding of the march. In this insightful history, William P. Jones restores the march to its full significance.

I think some reviewers expected this to be another civil rights history, but hasn't that already been done? The March on Washington looked at the convergence of the civil rights movement and the labor movement, showing not just churches but labor movements were an important part of the movement.

Friday, January 24, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Two Perspectives of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, featuring Dr. John Liebert, co-author of Wounded Minds: Understanding and Solving the Growing Menace of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Jennifer Percy, author of Demon Camp: A Soldier’s Exorcism.
This event is co-sponsored by the Milwaukee chapter of Veterans for Peace.

For this important event, forensic neuropsychiatrist John Liebert will be joined by author Jennifer Percy (photo credit Michael Kreiser) in sharing complementary journeys into PTSD: one through scientific research and practice; the other through the complexities of the human heart. This profound combination of journalism informed by a compassionate understanding of another’s deeply personal trauma, with fresh scientific discovery and bold ideas, together offer a vital approach to addressing the rapidly growing epidemic affecting ever greater numbers of returning veterans, their loved ones, and our communities.

In Wounded Minds, Dr. Liebert (with his co-author, William J. Birnes) unravels the mysteries of the illness, explains why it is on the rise, and offers pragmatic solutions to stemming this epidemic both within the military and in society. Through dissecting several high-profile cases of violence by military personnel, the authors paint a clear picture of the very real threat PTSD poses to individuals and society. They also explain how to diagnose and understand the brain abnormalities associated with PTSD, the diagnostic problems confronting military medicine today, and both immediate and ongoing medical solutions.

We originally put this event together because Stacie was such an avid fan of Percy's book, even working with the publisher to add on Milwaukee to Percy's Iowa City event. After it was put together, Stacie wound up getting her HarperCollins job, but for folks who didn't get to say goodbye, she'll be back for this event. And we've got another big fan of the book in Mel.  It seems fitting to include her rec here for Demon Camp.

"The premise (and promise) of Percy's first book had me eagerly awaiting its arrival for more than a year and a half, and it not only lives up to the promise, it far surpasses it. Caleb Daniels was supposed to be on the helicopter that took the lives of sixteen men, including seven of his comrades and his best friend. When he returns home, however, the dead men follow him, just as they seem to follow so many men and women coming back from war. In the years that come after, Caleb seeks solace from this "Black Thing" that haunts him, the search eventually bringing him to Portal, Georgia, where deliverance from spiritual demons is a near-daily occurrence. Percy weaves together personal stories of other soldiers, psychological insight into the lasting effects of trauma, and even alludes to experiences of her own that do not take over the narrative but inform it, allowing the reader to understand why she was able to gain the trust of wary survivors and how her insights into such terrors can feel so crisp and true. This is an extraordinary, important book rendered with a deft, empathic cradling and told in the clear, haltingly spare voice that a story such as this requires. Hypnotic and devastating, it will haunt the reader for a long time to it should." --Stacie M. Williams

Next week preview:
Monday, January 27, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Greg Kot, author of I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March up Freedom's Highway 

Speaking of civil rights, the Staples Singers started in the gospel movement, but became long associated with Martin Luther King and the movement. It was Pops Staples' feeling that there was there was a strong connection between gospel music and the social aware songs that the family sang in the 1960s and 1970s, though that doesn't really explain "Let's Do it Again."

Greg Kot, longtime music critic at the Chicago Tribune, and onetime newspaperman for Milwaukee, has written a loving group biography of the family, weaving together family stories,cultural history, and music criticism.I'll be writing more about the book later this week.

Jon Gilbertson looks at I'll Take Your There in this Journal Sentinel review.

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