In eighteenth-century America, information about a woman’s life and accomplishments was very difficult to discover, but some woman were avid letter writers or devoted journal keepers, and thankfully some of those letters and journals were saved.

In her new book, Remarkable Women of New England: Daughters, Wives, Sisters, and Mothers: The War Years 1754 to 1787, Carole Owens tells the story of Mary Gray Bidwell, Elizabeth Edwards Burr; Lavinia Deane Fisk, Abigail Williams Sergeant Dwight and others.

The war years changed the lives of each of these women and their lives changed our new country.

We hear all the time about weight gain, weight loss, how Americans are the heaviest we have ever been, and myriad plans for remedying our egregious fatness. Yet, what if much of what we are told, and what we believe, simply is not true?

Writer Harriet Brown set out to explore our relentless obsession with weight and thinness in the new book Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight--and What We Can Do about It.

Serhii Plhoky is Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University, the director of Harvard's Ukrainian Research Institute, and one of the foremost experts on Ukrainian history. As he explains in his new book we must look back to Ukraine's past to understand its present and future. 

  Reeling from the Great Depression, the United States and Germany elected two new leaders of diametrically opposing ideologies. In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt won the presidency and Adolf Hitler became chancellor.

Author and historian David Pietrusza will discuss his new book - 1932: The Rise of Hitler and FDR–Two Tales of Politics, Betrayal, and Unlikely Destiny.

  License to Quill is a James Bond-esque spy thriller starring William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe during history's real life Gunpowder Plot.

The story follows the fascinating golden age of English espionage, the tumultuous cold war gripping post-Reformation Europe, and the cloak-and-dagger politics of Renaissance England. Readers will frequent the same taverns as Shakespeare, test their wits against the infamous Guy Fawkes, witness the miracles of the scientific revolution, and delight in the mysterious origins of the Bard's most haunting play: Macbeth.

'Trace' By Lauret Savoy

Dec 14, 2015

  While many geologists focus their inquiry on the Earth, probing contours of the land to reveal how past developments have come to shape the present, Lauret Savoy’s new book, Trace, takes a more personal journey.

Lauret Edith Savoy is a woman of mixed heritage, and a professor of environmental studies and geology at Mount Holyoke College, where she explores the intertwinings of natural and cultural histories. She is a self-described “Earth historian” and in the new book traces her Native, African-, Euro-American ancestry across the United States in the hope of learning what her extended family experienced.

Following his acclaimed Atlantic and The Men Who United the States, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester offers an enthralling biography of the Pacific Ocean and its role in the modern world, exploring our relationship with this imposing force of nature. Simon Winchester discusses his new book, Pacific, on this week’s Book Show.

Listener Essay - Legacy

Dec 8, 2015

  Carole Owens is an author and historian. 


Sunday morning, “December 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy.”

My grandfather was at Pearl Harbor. Sometime between 7:53 and 9:55 a.m., he was hit by shrapnel – nasty chunks of metal packed into bombs.

There are a number of iconic elements that make up New York City, The Empire State Building, Time Square, Rockefeller Center, The Statue of Liberty, but long before these landmarks could come to define "The Big City" its very structure had to be developed. The new book City on a Grid: How New York Became New York, tells just that story. How New York City's streets came to form its rectilinear grid that millions of people now walk through everyday.

In his new book The Age of Clinton: America In The 1990s, historian Gil Troy, asks us to look past our prejudices about William Jefferson Clinton's Presidency and instead focus on the way in which his time in office shaped the culture of the 1990's. The book also of course sheds light on Hillary Clinton's Political career as we approach the 2016 Presidential Election.

Ron Livingston plays John Carver in a new miniseries about the Pilgrims.
National Geographic Channcel

You might not immediately recognize Ron Livingston in the new miniseries Saints & Strangers, the two-night story of the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth that debuts Sunday at 9 on the National Geographic Channel.

The actor known to a generation of fans from movies like Swingers and Office Space and series like Sex and the City and Band of Brothers appears under a matted mane as John Carver, the first governor of Plymouth Colony whose struggles began on the Mayflower and only got worse in the new world.

  Even with last week's terror attack, Paris is still the City of Light. Luc Sante wants us to remember that Paris has a history of the city of the poor, the eccentric, the outcast, the willfully nonconforming. In his book The Other Paris, gives us a panoramic view of that second metropolis, which has nearly vanished but whose remains in the bricks and stones of the contemporary city, in the culture of the city itself, and by extension, around the world. 

  Sarah Vowell is the bestselling author of Assassination Vacation and The Partly Cloudy Patriot. Her latest look at history is an insightful and unconventional account of George Washington’s trusted officer and friend, that swashbuckling teenage French aristocrat the Marquis de Lafayette.

Drawn to the patriots’ war out of a lust for glory, Enlightenment ideas and the traditional French hatred for the British, young Lafayette crossed the Atlantic expecting to join forces with an undivided people, encountering instead fault lines between the Continental Congress and the Continental Army, rebel and loyalist inhabitants, and a conspiracy to fire George Washington, the one man holding together the rickety, seemingly doomed patriot cause.

  Long before his finest hour as Britain's wartime leader, Winston Churchill emerged on the world stage as a brazen foreign correspondent, covering wars of empire in Cuba, India, the Sudan, and South Africa.

In those far-flung corners of the world, reporting from the front lines between 1895 and 1900, Churchill mastered his celebrated command of language and formed strong opinions about war.

Based on his private letters and war reportage, Winston Churchill Reporting by Simon Read intertwines young Winston's daring exploits in combat, adventures in distant corners of the globe, and rise as a major literary talent.

  London in April, 1940, was a place of great fear and conflict. Everyone was on edge; civilization itself seemed imperiled. The Germans are marching. They have taken Poland, France, Holland, Belgium, and Czechoslovakia. They now menace Britain. Should Britain negotiate with Germany?

The members of the War Cabinet bicker, yell, lose their control, and are divided. Churchill, leading the faction to fight, and Lord Halifax, cautioning that prudence is the way to survive, attempt to usurp one another by any means possible. Their country is on the line. And, in historian John Kelly’s new book: Never Surrender: Winston Churchill and Britain's Decision to Fight Nazi Germany in the Fateful Summer of 1940, he brings us alongside these complex and imperfect men, determining the fate of the British Empire.

John Kelly specializes in narrative history. He is the author of several books including: The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People.

    When the United States government passed the Bill of Rights in 1791, its uncompromising protection of speech and of the press were unlike anything the world had ever seen before. But by 1798, the once-dazzling young republic of the United States was on the verge of collapse: partisanship gripped the weak federal government, British seizures threatened American goods and men on the high seas, and war with France seemed imminent as its own democratic revolution deteriorated into terror. Suddenly, the First Amendment, which protected harsh commentary of the weak government, no longer seemed as practical.

So that July, President John Adams and the Federalists in control of Congress passed an extreme piece of legislation that made criticism of the government and its leaders a crime punishable by heavy fines and jail time. In Liberty’s First Crisis, writer Charles Slack tells the story of the 1798 Sedition Act, the crucial moment when high ideals met real-world politics and the country’s future hung in the balance.

  Best-selling author Elizabeth Rosner's Electric City: A Novel, is now available in paper-back. The historical tale spans from the end of the nineteenth century, through to the mid-twenties, up to the summer of love. The year is 1892; a few years earlier Thomas Edison moved his Edison Machine Works to upstate New York at the confluence of the mighty Hudson River and its tributary the Mohawk. It soon became the headquarters of a major manufacturing company giving the town its name Electric City. Elizabeth Rosner will be in our region to talk about her book in an event Tuesday, November 10th, for the Women's Club of Albany. 

  In his new book, A Nation Of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story, veteran NPR correspondent  Tom Gjelten assesses the impact and importance of the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act by interweaving the story a handful of immigrant families with the history and analysis of the immigration changes in America as a whole. The fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 act is this month and immigration continues to be a hot button issue in American politics.

Tom Gjelten is a long time NPR news correspondent, he's covered wars in Central America, the Middle East, and the former Yugoslavia, as well as major national stories in the United States. His NPR reporting has won him two Overseas Press Club Awards, a George Polk Award, and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. 

  The history of the Catskills is pivotal in the history of our country that is described in great detail in Stephen Silverman’s, The Catskills: Its History and How It Changed America.

Silverman’s book brings to life the beauty, vastness and turning points of the Catskills history, sharing stimulating stories of the region’s influential entrepreneurs, artists, gangsters, politicians, musicians and outcasts.

Vital to the development of America, the Catskills region was the birthplace of New York’s own Declaration of Independence, a central location for America’s industrial revolution, a rising resort town with hundreds of hotels and an artistic muse for the 19th century Hudson River School of Art and 20th century entertainers like Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, and Joan Rivers.


  Life in the Mohawk Valley today is vastly different from generations ago. Long gone are the factory whistles calling workers to their shifts in old mill towns. Fort Plain still benefits from little-known inventor William Yerdon, and Utica baseball player George Burns was so skilled that fans called left field Burnsville.

Few realize that a local artist shared a special bond with John Philip Sousa, one of the nations greatest musicians. The Tamarack Playhouse was once the venue of spectacular theatricals, and as time goes on, there are fewer alumni to remember Amsterdams Bishop Scully High School.

Local author and local broadcasting legend Bob Cudmore shows that while lost, these and other compelling stories no longer need be forgotten.

  In this week’s Classical Music According to Yehuda, Alan Chartock and Yehuda Hanani begin a series of discussions about Igor Stravinsky.

  This Saturday, the Washington County Historical Society will present the program: “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again: 150 Years since the End of the Civil War and the Return of Our Own 123rd Regiment” in Salem, NY.

Joining us: Pat Niles, retired high school history teacher from Salem who is a Washington Co. Historical Society board member and is scheduled to be the next WCHS president. Also joining us is Mike Russert who is a retired teacher from Hoosick Falls Central. He is an expert on local history with a particular interest in the 123rd Regiment from Washington Co. He will be a speaker at the 9/26 event.

Debi Craig is a board member and former president of the WCHS, she is the Event Coordinator for “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” and chairperson of the Programming Committee.

  William F. Buckley, Jr., and Norman Mailer were the two towering intellectual figures of the 1960s, and they lived remarkably parallel lives. Both became best-selling authors in their twenties; both started hugely influential papers (National Review and the Village Voice); both ran for mayor of New York City; both were noted for their exceptional wit and venom; and both became the figurehead of their respective social movements (Buckley on the right, Mailer on the left). Indeed, Buckley and Mailer argued vociferously and publicly about every major issue of their time: civil rights, feminism, the counterculture, Vietnam, the Cold War.

But behind the scenes, the two were close friends and trusted confidantes. In Buckley and Mailer: The Difficult Friendship That Shaped the Sixties, historian Kevin M. Schultz delves into their personal archives to tell the rich story of their friendship, their arguments, and the tumultuous decade they did so much to shape.

  Confucius is perhaps the most important philosopher in history. Today, his teachings shape the daily lives of more than 1.6 billion people.

Throughout East Asia, Confucius’s influence can be seen in everything from business practices and family relationships to educational standards and government policies. Even as western ideas from Christianity to Communism have bombarded the region, Confucius’s doctrine has endured as the foundation of East Asian culture.

Michael Schuman's new book is Confucius: And the World He Created.

  Kermit Roosevelt, University of Pennsylvania Law Professor and Theodore Roosevelt’s Great Great Grandson, combines the momentum of a top-notch legal thriller with a thoughtful examination of one of the worst civil rights violations in US history in Allegiance: A Novel.

The Roosevelt Library and Museum will present an author talk and book signing with Kermit Roosevelt at 7 o'clock tonight in the Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home.

  Spencertown Academy Arts Center’s Festival of Books, the annual extravaganza of all things literary, takes place over Labor Day weekend, September 4 through 7, 2015. The Festival features a giant used book sale, two days of readings and book signings by nationally known and local authors, and a children’s program.

One of this year's participating authors is Alex Kershaw. His new book (also featured on WAMC's The Book Show this week) Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris - recounts the story of one family’s heroic efforts to defeat the evil in their midst.

He will participate in the discussion "Heroes and Spies, Real and Imagined" at the Festival of Books on Saturday afternoon at 1:30.

  In his book, Men of War: The American Soldier in Combat at Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima, Alexander Rose draws on an immense range of firsthand sources from the battlefield. He begins by re-creating the lost and alien world of eighteenth-century warfare at Bunker Hill, the bloodiest clash of the War of Independence, and reveals why the American militiamen were so lethally effective against the oncoming waves of British troops.

Then, focusing on Gettysburg, Rose describes a typical Civil War infantry action, vividly explaining what Union and Confederate soldiers experienced before, during, and after combat. Finally, he shows how in 1945 the Marine Corps hurled itself with the greatest possible violence at the island of Iwo Jima, where nearly a third of all Marines killed in World War II would die. As Rose demonstrates, the most important factor in any battle is the human one: At Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima, the American soldier, as much as any general, proved decisive.

  Once Upon a Time in Russia by Ben Mezrich is the untold true story of the larger-than-life billionaire oligarchs who surfed the waves of privatization to reap riches after the fall of the Soviet regime: “Godfather of the Kremlin” Boris Berezovsky, a former mathematician whose first entrepreneurial venture was running an automobile reselling business, and Roman Abramovich, his dashing young protégé who built a multi-billion-dollar empire of oil and aluminum.

Locked in a complex, uniquely Russian partnership, Berezovsky and Abramovich battled their way through the “Wild East” of Russia with Berezovsky acting as the younger man’s krysha—literally, his roof, his protector. 

  In her new story collection, Almost Famous Women, writer Megan Mayhew Bergman takes us into the lives of independent, inventive women at the margins of history.

Bergman has written fictionalized accounts of real-life, risk-taking women who have largely been forgotten.

  From the curator of Letters of Note comes Lists of Note - a new book which contains 125 unputdownable entries from a list of names that are as eclectic and intriguing as its contents, which include myriad reasons given by ancient Egyptians for missing work, Albert Einstein's demands of his estranged wife, F. Scott Fitzgerald's extensive conjugation of "to cocktail," and many more.

Rarely intended for the public eye, these lists reveal hopes, priorities, and musings in a most engaging and entertaining way.