history

  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.

For more than 150 years the Gowanus Canal has been called a cesspool, an industrial dumping ground, and a blemish, but it is also one of the most important waterways in the history of New York Harbor. Yet its true origin, man made character, and importance to the City has been largely forgotten. In his new book, Gowanus: Brooklyn's Canal, Brooklynite, author, and Journalist Joseph Alexiou shares the little known history of the small waterway in Brooklyn.

Alexiou is the author of Paris For Dummies; ​he is also a licensed New York City tour guide; and his writing has appeared in The New York Observer, Gothamist, and New York Magazine's Daily Intel.  

  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 Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

First released in 2013, the best-selling book has been released in a Young Readers Adaptation by Viking Books.

  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 his new book The Year Of Lear: Shakespeare In 1606, James Shapiro offers a portrait of one of the most inspired moments in William Shakespeare's career, the extraordinary year he completed King Lear and then went on to write the two other great tragedies Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra. Shapiro, a preeminent Shakespeare scholar and author of the previous books, A Year in the Life of Shakespeare: 1599 and Contested Will sheds new light on these plays by placing them in the context of their time.

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

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