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.

  Jim Shepard’s new book, The Book of Aron, tells the story of a Jewish boy growing up in poverty and desperation. It begins before the Germans invaded Poland and, through Aron’s eyes, takes us from the Polish countryside into the depths of the Warsaw Ghetto and then into a famous orphanage for destitute children.

  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.

  In 1944, hundreds of Allied soldiers were trapped in prisoner-of-war camps in occupied France, fighting brutal conditions and unsympathetic captors. The odds of their survival were long. The odds of escaping, even longer.

But one man had the courage to fight the odds. In Behind Nazi Lines: My Father’s Heroic Quest To Save 149 World War II Pow’s, Andrew Hodges tells the true story of his father’s brave mission behind enemy lines to negotiate the safety of prisoners.

Dr. Andrew Hodges Jr. is the firstborn son of World War II hero Andrew Gerow Hodges. He is a psychiatrist in private practice and has served as assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. Dr. Hodges has helped pioneer a breakthrough to the brilliant unconscious mind, which he explained in his groundbreaking book, The Deeper Intelligence.

  In his new book, Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese-American Internment in World War II, bestselling author Richard Reeves provides an authoritative account of the internment of more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese aliens during World War II.

  Erik Larson has made a career of bringing half-remembered history to vivid, vibrant life. He has done so in his best-sellers: The Devil in the White City, Thunderstruck, In the Garden of Beasts, and Isaac’s Storm.

Widely acclaimed as the master of page-turning non-fiction sagas, he now brings another past event alive – this time, the last crossing of the Lusitania.

Marisa Scheinfeld

  Photographer Marisa Scheinfeld grew up in New York’s Catskills region, not far from its legendary resorts of the Borscht Belt, a name derived from the area’s popularity with Jews from the New York region who for years were not welcome at many other vacation spots.

For much of the 20th century the Borscht Belt was a thriving vacation destination, home to hundreds of hotels and motels, from famed high-end resorts such as Grossinger’s and the Concord to modest bungalow colonies. In its heyday, the area was known especially for its nightlife, with top comedians and other performers appearing regularly there.

By the time Scheinfeld was growing up there in the 1980s and ‘90s, however, economic and other factors had sent the region into rapid decline, leading many of the hotels and clubs to close. For the past five years, Scheinfeld has documented that decline through a series of evocative, sometimes ghostly large-scale images of dozens of empty hotels.

An exhibit of that work, Echoes from the Borscht Belt: Contemporary Photographs by Marisa Scheinfeld, is at the Yiddish Book Center’s Brechner Gallery.