Biographies & Memoirs
When New York Times reporter Bill Carter recently broke the story that NBC was planning on gently escorting Tonight Show host Jay Leno out the door for a younger, fresher face, it felt a little like déjà vu. That's because the same decision happened about ten years ago.
Carter's definitely the most qualified person to reveal such information. The news made me seek out his book, The Late Shift. The title is a breakthrough account of the shake-up at NBC after Johnny Carson surprisingly announced his plan to retire within a year. The network famously snubbed their Late Night host, David Letterman by hiring Leno, who had been a successful guest host for the legendary Carson.
“She was always very generous with her time and hospitality to me, and I loved working with her. She helped me with my walking tour as well. I have not been in touch with her over the past several years, but to this day whenever I give one of my walking tours downtown, I make sure that all on the tour with me are made aware that the basis for most of the information shared on the walking tour is the result of the great work and passion of one Ruth Coder Fitzgerald and her book -- A Different Story. In my view, Ruth was always a caring and powerful voice for the underdog, the ‘little guy,’ and her lifelong commitment to inform, to teach, and advocate for that particular constituent speaks volumes about her makeup, her sense of fairness for all, and her heart of gold. My admiration and love for Ruth, and what she stood for, is never-ending.”
--Jervis Hairston, former City Planner and local historian
On April 10, 2013, a highly-regarded pioneer in local African American history died at her home in downtown Fredericksburg. Ruth Coder Fitzgerald was well-known throughout the community for her historical research and writings as well as for her championing of an important cause for Vietnam veterans.
One of the most popular humanitarian nonfiction books of the 2000s was Greg Mortenson’s best seller Three Cups of Tea. Three Cups of Tea was marketed as a call for humanitarian aid to impoverished Central Asian nations such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, but Mortenson’s life story of dedicating himself to providing education to the people of Central Asia was the emotional connection that sold many readers on the book. Mortenson traveled across the U.S., giving lectures, setting up charities to provide money for his Central Asia Institute (CAI), and appearing on numerous talk shows to promote his book. As beautiful as his humanitarian mission seemed, it was ultimately revealed as too good to be true by writer Jon Krakauer, whose expose Three Cups of Deceit explored the lies in Mortenson’s story and the lack of effectiveness in the CAI’s schools program. Although Three Cups of Deceit can be a depressing read at times, it also makes for a fascinating study in media awareness and image manipulation.
Young Lee Bennett Hopkins was an unlikely candidate to go down in the Guinness Book of World Records for having edited the most poetry anthologies ever. He spent half his childhood in the projects of Scranton, New Jersey, and hated school. His father left the family when Lee was fourteen, leaving him to look after his younger brother and sister. His mother had her own problems, but she did love her children.
What made the difference for him was a special teacher who gave him hope. In eighth grade, Mrs. Ethel Kite McLaughlin encouraged him in his writing and urged him to go to as many plays as possible, some of which he managed to see by slipping into the theatres during intermission and catching this second act. This opened a new perspective for Lee, and he was soon on different path, away from the poverty and street life he had known.
"Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying.”
Will Schwalbe comes from a family where everyone is always reading—and sharing their opinions about—a book. So asking his mother, “What are you reading?” was a fairly commonplace sort of question. Except that it was posed in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and his mother, Mary Anne, was about to start chemotherapy for advanced pancreatic cancer. During Mary Anne’s treatments and while she is convalescing at home, Will finds that discussing books strengthens the connection between them and allows them to safely explore such sensitive topics as regret, dying, and faith. His book, The End of Your Life Book Club, is both an amazing tribute to his mother and to the books they both cherished.
The University of Mary Washington's 2013 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Thursday, February 21, with a lecture on Arthur Ashe by Arnold Rampersad, co-author (with Ashe) of Days of Grace: A Memoir:
The University of Mary Washington's 2013 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Tuesday, March 26, with a lecture on the Pacific admirals of World War II by Walter R. Borneman, author of The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King—The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea.
Economically and convincingly refurbishes a WWII hero inappropriately grown unfashionable. (Publishers Weekly)
The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King – the Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea by Walter R. Borneman
Drawing upon journals, ship logs, and other primary sources, he brings an incredible historical moment to life. (Amazon.com)
The University of Mary Washington's 2013 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Thursday, March 19, with a lecture on Winston Churchill by Jeremy Black, author of Rethinking Military History and War and the World: Military Power and the Fate of Continents, 1450-2000.
Churchill by Paul Johnson (book and audiobook)
Acclaimed historian Paul Johnson shows how Churchill's immense adaptability combined with his natural pugnacity to make him a formidable leader for the better part of a century. Rich with anecdote and quotation, Johnson's narrative illustrates the British statesman's humor, resilience, courage, and eccentricity. (catalog summary)
Drawing on unprecedented access to Cronkite's private papers as well as interviews with his family and friends, Douglas Brinkley now brings this American icon into focus as never before. (books.google.com)
Find out more about this lecture on the University of Mary Washington's web site. All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are held at 7:30pm, in Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall, and are free and open to the public. For more on this topic, check out these items from the library:
Cronkite Remembers by Walter Cronkite (audiobook and videocassette)
Cronkite recounts the journey of his life and his extraordinary career in broadcasting, including archival material and personal interviews. (catalog summary)
From Cronkite to Colbert: The Evolution of Broadcast News by Geoffrey Baym
In a time when increasing numbers of people are tuning out the nightly news and media consumption is falling, the late-night comedians have become some of the most important newscasters in the country. From Cronkite to Colbert explains why. (catalog summary)
The University of Mary Washington's 2013 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Thursday, February 28, with a lecture on Marian Anderson by Raymond Arsenault, author of The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert that Awakened America:
This is the dramatic story behind Marian Anderson's concert at the Lincoln Memorial-an early milestone in civil rights history-on the seventieth anniversary of her performance. On Easter Sunday 1939, the brilliant vocalist Marian Anderson sang before a throng of seventy-five thousand at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington-an electrifying moment and an under appreciated milestone in civil rights history. Though she was at the peak of a dazzling career, Anderson had been barred from performing at the Daughters of the American Revolution's Constitution Hall because she was black. When Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR over the incident and took up Anderson's cause, however, it became a national issue. Like a female Jackie Robinson-but several years before his breakthrough-Anderson rose to a pressure-filled and politically charged occasion with dignity and courage, and struck a vital blow for civil rights. In the 1963 March on Washington, Martin Luther King would follow, literally, in Anderson's footsteps. (Publisher's description)
Find out more about this lecture on the University of Mary Washington's web site. All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are held at 7:30pm, in Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall, and are free and open to the public.