history

Steve Almond is the author of eight books of fiction and non-fiction, including the New York Times Bestsellers "Candyfreak" and "Against Football." His short stories have been anthologized widely, in the Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, Best American Erotica, and Best American Mysteries series.

Like a lot of Americans, Almond spent the weeks after the 2016 election lying awake, in a state of dread and bewilderment. The problem wasn’t just the election, but the fact that nobody could explain, in any sort of coherent way, why America had elected a cruel, corrupt, and incompetent man to the Presidency.

"Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country" is Almond’s effort to make sense of our historical moment.

Why Dinosaurs Matter

Mar 9, 2018

Dr. Kenneth Lacovara has unearthed some of the largest dinosaurs ever to walk our planet, including the super-massive Dreadnoughtus, which at 65 tons weighs more than seven T. rex. In his quest to understand these titanic creatures that strain the human imagination, Lacovara blends exploration in remote locations across the globe with the latest imaging and modeling techniques from engineering to medicine.

He joined us to talk about his TED book "Why Dinosaurs Matter."

Brad Meltzer is the New York Times bestselling author of "Heroes for My Son, Heroes for My Daughter," and a number of suspense novels. He's the creator of the childrens' book series "Ordinary People Change the World" which is illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. Meltzer is also the host of the History Channel television shows "Brad Meltzer's Decoded" and "Brad Meltzer's Lost History."

His joined us to discuss both "I am Harriet Tubman" from the Ordinary People series and his newest suspense novel, "The Escape Artist."

Niall Ferguson is one of the world's most renowned historians. He is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. His many awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013).

In his new book, "The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook," Ferguson points out that though the 21st century has been hailed as the Age of Networks, networks have always been with us.

Throughout history, hierarchies housed in high towers have claimed to rule, but often real power has resided in the networks in the town square below. For it is networks that tend to innovate. And it is through networks that revolutionary ideas can contagiously spread. 

  Despite the outpouring of books, movies, museums, memorials, and courses devoted to the Holocaust, a coherent explanation of why such ghastly carnage erupted from the heart of civilized Europe in the twentieth century still seems elusive even seventy years later. 

Peter Hayes' Why? dispels many misconceptions and answers some of the most basic, yet vexing, questions that remain: why the Jews and not another ethnic group? Why the Germans? Why such a swift and sweeping extermination? Why didn’t more Jews fight back more often? Why didn’t they receive more help?

Peter Hayes is professor of history and German and Theodore Zev Weiss Holocaust Educational Foundation Professor of Holocaust Studies Emeritus at Northwestern University and chair of the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Marilyn Yalom is a senior scholar at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, and the author of "A History of the Wife," among other books.

In "The Amorous Heart," Marilyn Yalom tracks the heart metaphor and heart iconography across two thousand years, through Christian theology, pagan love poetry, medieval painting, Shakespearean drama, Enlightenment science, and into the present. She argues that the symbol reveals a tension between love as romantic and sexual on the one hand, and as religious and spiritual on the other.

Colson Whitehead’s novel "The Underground Railroad," tells the story of a runaway slave and re-imagines the pre-Civil War South. It won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book award and it is now out in paperback.

Facebook: City of Schenectady

The city of Schenectady, New York was once known as the city that lights and hauls the world because of General Electric and American Locomotive. American Locomotive is long gone, now the site of the Rivers Casino and General Electric remains but with a much smaller payroll. But the history of Schenectady endures, known for Thomas Edison, and Charles Steinmetz, as a pioneer city in broadcasting, and there’s the historic stockade neighborhood and the once mighty Erie Canal. 

This year’s Ice Harvest Festival at Hanford Mills Museum in East Meredith, NY is Saturday, February 3rd from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Using historic tools, children and adults can walk out on the frozen mill pond to cut and maneuver blocks of ice. The ice blocks are pushed up a ramp and then loaded onto sleds, which are hauled to a traditional ice house.

Ice harvesting will take place all day, and visitors also can take part in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities. Hanford Mills Museum’s Executive Director Liz Callahan joins us.

A Tale Of Three Cities

Jan 3, 2018

Istanbul has long been a place where stories and histories collide, where perception is as potent as fact.

From the Koran to Shakespeare, this city with three names--Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul--resonates as an idea and a place, real and imagined. Standing as the gateway between East and West, North and South, it has been the capital city of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires. For much of its history it was the very center of the world, known simply as "The City," but, as Bettany Hughes reveals, Istanbul is not just a city, but a global story.

Professor Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster, who has devoted the last 25 years to the vibrant communication of the past. Her newest book is Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities. 

Stone barn at Hancock Shaker Village
Sarah LaDuke

Hancock Shaker Village is a living history museum - marrying past and present, proving with every addition to its programming that it is becoming a vibrant, new center for ideas, music, art, food, outdoor activities, and adventure.

The Village, which was settled in 1783, became a museum in 1960, just one year after the last Shakers left. Contained within its 20 historic buildings and 750 acres that sprawl across three towns is the only round Shaker barn in the world that was built in 1826. 

Jennifer Trainer Thompson, who spent the last 28 years helping to co-found and develop MASS MoCA in the Berkshires, took over as president of Hancock Shaker Village in January 2017. Jennifer joins us along with the village’s curator Lesley Herzberg and farmer Billy Mangiardi. 

Starting tomorrow, the New York State Museum is opening an exhibition celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage in NY titled Votes for Women: Celebrating New York’s Suffrage Centennial. Monday - November 6th - is the 100th anniversary date of women’s suffrage in NY.

Votes for Women celebrates the centennial of women’s suffrage in New York State and raise public awareness of the struggle for women’s suffrage and equal rights in New York State from the 1848 Seneca Falls Conven­tion through 1917 when New York State granted women the right to vote.

The exhibition also addresses the nationally significant role of New York State leaders in regards to women’s rights and the feminist movement through the early 21st century. 

The curators of the exhibition are Jennifer Lemak and Ashley Hopkins-Benton and they join us in studio.

In his new book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, NYT bestselling author and co-creator of the Peabody-Award winning public radio show Studio 360, Kurt Andersen, provides a new and comprehensive understanding of our post-truth world and the American instinct in make- believe.

This interview was recorded at UAlbany as part of the New York State Writers Institute symposium: Telling the Truth in a Post-Truth World.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

Saratoga Springs will be the focus of a new television series being produced by C-Span. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard has more details on the program featuring a city known for health, history and horses.

Olana
Sarah LaDuke

The Olana Partnership, in collaboration with The Ancram Opera House, will present Performing Olana, an original play throughout the Olana landscape, on Friday, September 22 through Sunday, September 24. 

Performing Olana has been written by nationally recognized playwright and TV writer, Darrah Cloud and co-directed by the Ancram Opera House creatives Jeffrey Mousseau and Paul Ricciardi along with The Olana Partnership’s Director of Education Amy Hufnagel. The three theater artists have been working for months to design an immersive, promenade style theater production to be delivered in the landscape at Olana while the audience follows the story through the historic site. 

It is a play that takes the interpretation of Olana to another level- both in terms of costumed “interpretation” but also in the untold and imagined stories between the lines of letters and journals in the Church archive.

We welcome Paul Ricciardi, Co-Director of The Ancram Opera House. Playwright Darrah Cloud, and Amy Hufnagel, Director of Education for The Olana Partnership. 

The Shaker Heritage Society in Albany, NY is a non-profit organization that offers award-winning educational programming about the Shakers, their innovative spirit and their influence on American culture. The Society is actively concerned with preserving the integrity of the Watervliet Shaker National Historic District, site of America’s first Shaker settlement.

The Shaker Heritage Society will host a 40th Anniversary Celebration -- “Shaker Your Plate” on September 21st.

Here to tell us about that and more we welcome Starlyn D'Angelo, Executive Director of Shaker Heritage Society and board member and Chair of our Development Committee, Pilar Arthur Snead. 

Tom Schachtman will be at The White Hart Inn in Salisbury, CT tonight to read from and discuss his new book, How the French Saved AmericaThe White Hart Speaker Series is presented in collaboration with Oblong Books & Music & Scoville Memorial Library

Americans today have a love/hate relationship with France, but in this illuminating new history, Tom Shachtman shows that without France, there might not be a United States of America.

To the rebelling colonies, French assistance made the difference between looming defeat and eventual triumph. Even before the Declaration of Independence was issued, King Louis XVI and French foreign minister Vergennes were aiding the rebels. After the Declaration, that assistance broadened to include wages for our troops; guns, cannon, and ammunition; engineering expertise that enabled victories and prevented defeats; diplomatic recognition; safe havens for privateers; battlefield leadership by veteran officers; and the army and fleet that made possible the Franco-American victory at Yorktown. 

Rachel Kadish’s new novel The Weight of Ink is set in London. It is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect – one an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; the other an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.

During the 10 years that took America from glittering heights to the depths of economic devastation, New York State transformed the nation. The exhibition Roaring into the Future: New York 1925-35, on view through October 9 at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art, is a pioneering exploration celebrating the Empire State as the driving force behind the creation of 20th-century modernism.

From Buffalo to Brooklyn, artists, designers, and manufacturers generated avant-garde art, fashion, technology, and music that resulted in the century’s most important artistic revolution. MWPAI President Anna D'Ambrosio joins us. 

Celebrated singer-songwriter Bob Warren will present a paean in song to his hometown of Greenwich in Small Town World -- a free concert that is part of Greenwich Free Library's live music series, "Music is Living History" on Saturday, August 5 at 7 p.m. at the Greenwich High School Auditorium. 

Bob Warren joins us to tell us more along with Annie Miller, Director of the Greenwich Free Library, and performer in Small Town World, Kayla Stewart.

In 1938, Mercedes-Benz began production of the largest, most luxurious limousine in the world. A machine of frightening power and sinister beauty, the Grosser 770K Model 150 Offener Tourenwagen was 20 feet long, seven feet wide, and tipped the scales at 5 tons. Its supercharged, 230-horsepower engine propelled the beast to speeds over 100 m.p.h. while its occupants reclined on glove-leather seats stuffed with goose down. Armor plated and equipped with hidden compartments for Luger pistols, the 770K was a sumptuous monster with a monstrous patron: Adolph Hitler and the Nazi party.

In The Devil’s Mercedes, author Robert Klara uncovers the forgotten story of how Americans responded to these rolling relics of fascism on their soil.

Robert Klara is the author of FDR’s Funeral Train and The Hidden White House. His articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, American Heritage, and The Guardian, among numerous other publications. Klara has also worked as a staff editor for magazines including Town & Country, Architecture, and Adweek.

Admiral James Stavridis is one of the most admired admirals of his generation and the only admiral to serve as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. His new book Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans takes readers on a voyage through the world’s most important bodies of water, providing the story of naval power as a driver of human history and a crucial element in our current geopolitical path. 

A retired 4-star admiral with 35 years of active service in the Navy, Stavridis served as the Supreme Allied Commander for Global Operations at NATO from 2009 to 2013. Again, his new book is Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans

Over the course of his distinguished career, Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough has spoken before Congress, the White House, historical societies, and other esteemed institutions -- including Union College in Schenectady.

Now, at a time of self-reflection in America following a bitter election campaign that has left the country divided, McCullough has collected some of his most important speeches in a brief volume designed to identify important principles and characteristics that are particularly American.

The book is entitled The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For

The Jewish Federation Connecting with Community series presents The Butcher's Daughter: Echoes of the Shoah with author and published poet, Florence Grende on Monday April 24th.

Grende offers a gripping, at times haunting, family history by the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. The Butchers Daughter is an account of the devastation of war and the marks left on the succeeding generation. 

In 1797, eight years after the mutiny on the HMS Bounty, came a mutiny aboard the British frigate HMS Hermione—the bloodiest mutiny ever suffered by the Royal Navy.  In American Sanctuary, historian and author Roger Ekirch shares the story of Jonathan Robbins, one of the mutineers who made his way to American shores, and for whom the British called for extradition. 

He let it be known that he was an American citizen from Connecticut and had been impressed into service by the British. In one of the most catastrophic blunders of his administration, the extradition was sanctioned by President John Adams, and Robbins was sentenced to death by the British and hanged. Adams’ miscalculation ignited a political firestorm, fanned by the news of Robbins’ execution without his constitutional rights of due process and trial by jury. 

Jack Mayer is a pediatrician and a writer. He was last here to talk about his book - Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project. His new novel is: Before the Court of Heaven - based on a true story of Weimar Germany and the rise of the Third Reich.

Three themes impel the book: understanding the rise of Nazism, unfathomable forgiveness, and the complexity of redemption. It is a portrait of Germany between world wars, from revolution and unrest following World War I to the rise of the Nazis, World War II and the Holocaust.

When archaeologists ventured into a thick Honduran rainforest in 2015, they were searching in an unexplored valley for the remnants of a long-lost city. Legend had it that an ancient metropolis was buried under centuries worth of jungle growth.

Best-selling author Douglas Preston went along on the expedition. The archaeologists Preston followed had the advantage of detailed survey maps to guide them to precise locations. Three years earlier, scientists had deployed advanced LIDAR (Light Imaging, Detection, And Ranging) technology to peer through the rainforest canopy to reveal a sprawling ancient metropolis.

Preston has detailed the experience in a new book The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story.

Read any history of New York City and you will read about men. You will read about men who were political leaders and men who were activists and cultural tastemakers. These men have been lauded for generations for creating the most exciting and influential city in the world.

But that's not the whole story.

The Women Who Made New York by Julie Scelfo reveals the untold stories of the phenomenal women who made New York City the cultural epicenter of the world.

Julie Scelfo will be at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck on March 1.

Everyone knows that America is 50 states and…some other stuff. Scattered shards in the Pacific and the Caribbean, the not-quite states—American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—and their 4 million people are often forgotten, even by most Americans. But they’re filled with American flags, U.S. post offices, and Little League baseball games. How did these territories come to be part of the United States? What are they like? And why aren’t they states?

Doug Mach explores these questions in his book, The Not-Quite States of America: Dispatches from the Territories and Other Far-Flung Outposts of the USA.

Bellevue Hospital, on New York City's East Side, occupies a colorful and horrifying place in the public imagination: a den of mangled crime victims, vicious psychopaths, assorted derelicts, lunatics, and exotic-disease sufferers. In its two and a half centuries of service, there was hardly an epidemic or social catastrophe—or groundbreaking scientific advance—that did not touch Bellevue.

In Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital, David Oshinsky chronicles the history of America's oldest hospital and in so doing also charts the rise of New York to the nation's preeminent city, the path of American medicine from butchery and quackery to a professional and scientific endeavor, and the growth of a civic institution. From its origins in 1738 as an almshouse and pesthouse, Bellevue today is a revered public hospital bringing first-class care to anyone in need.

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