Printers Row Lit Fest

FULL PROGRAM SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED FOR PRINTERS ROW LIT FEST, THE MIDWEST’S LARGEST LITERARY CELEBRATION, SEPTEMBER 10 & 11

Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey joins over 100 authors including national bestsellers Jamie Ford, Marie Myung-OK Lee, and Danyel Smith in a jam-packed weekend of free programming

This year’s festival highlights Chicago stories and offers fun for all ages, with a poetry tent organized by The Poetry Foundation; a rare presentation from satire writers at The Onion; interactive programs for youth and families; and more

The 37th annual Printers Row Lit Fest, presented by the Near South Planning Board, is pleased to announce the full schedule of participating authors and programs. Printers Row Lit Fest is one of the three largest and oldest literary festivals in the U.S. and stretches across five blocks, along South Dearborn Street from Ida B. Wells Drive to Polk Street and on Polk Street from State to Clark, in Chicago’s historic Printers Row neighborhood. The outdoor event is accessible via public transportation and takes place rain or shine from Saturday – Sunday, September 10 – 11, from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

The festival kicks off with Evanston-based Pulitzer Prize winner and two-term United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, who will be awarded with this year’s prestigious Harold Washington Literary Award. Chicago authors and stories will be presented during the Printers Row Lit Fest including dozens of new books and anthologies focused on Chicago. From columnist Neil Steinberg’s Every Goddamn Day: A Highly Selective, Definitely Opinionated, and Alternatingly Humorous and Heartbreaking Historical Tour of Chicago and Ray Long’s The House that Madigan Built: The Record Run of Illinois’ Velvet Hammer to fictions set in Chicago neighborhoods such as Toya Wolfe’s Last Summer on State Street, Joe Meno’s Book of Extraordinary Tragediesand One Book One Chicago author Eric Charles May’s Bedrock Faith, Chicago is a leading character in today’s literary zeitgeist.  

Printers Row Lit Fest’s dynamic lineup offers fun for book lovers of all kinds, from poetry and romance to satire and spoken word. Highlights of this year’s festival include a conversation with Danyel Smith, the first Black editor of Billboard magazine, on her recent book Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in PopJamie Ford discussing his current New York Times bestseller The Many Daughters of Afong May; and celebrated author of The Evening Hero, Marie Myung-OK Lee.

Poetry Tent

New to this year’s festival is a dedicated poetry tent curated by The Poetry Foundation with a lineup of award-winning and emerging poets. Also new to the festival is the laugh-out-loud Literary Death Match, whichpits four local authors against each other in front of a panel of all-star judges, and the Chicago-based, national satirical news site The Onion will present a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the article production process of “America’s Finest News Source” with a post-apocalyptic twist. Visitors can participate in a spoken word workshop and open mic led by EmceeSkool, and The Moth will showcase recent winners from their popular StorySLAM live storytelling competition.

The Printers Row Lit Fest will present powerful voices in social and environmental justice and activism with a series of panels hosted by reporters from Chicago Sun-Times and personalities from WBEZ. The fest includes a timely discussion reflecting on two years of the COVID-19 pandemic with a conversation between Dr. David Ansell, author of The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills, and Dr. Thomas Fisher, author of The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago E.R. In addition, the Chicago Public Library will host Voices for Justice: Natalie Moore’s “The Billboard” including a staged reading of excerpts from the award-winning play.

This year marks the return of children and family-focused programming at Printers Row Lit Fest. Programs include Theatre on the Hill’s Choose Your Own Once Upon a Time, an opportunity for children to decide the fates of their favorite fairy tale characters in a live, interactive theatrical event, and Carlos Theatre Productions which will present a Latin American puppet show for children in Spanish and English. Parents can hear Dr. Dana Suskind in conversation with former Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens about her recent book Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child’s Potential, Fulfilling Society’s Promise. 

Programs are organized by Printers Row Lit Fest Program Director Amy Danzer, assistant director of graduate programs at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies and Board President of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.

Including Sandmeyer’s Books and The Book CellarPrinters Row Lit Fest hosts over 100 booksellers in airy outdoor tents, inviting visitors to peacefully peruse everything from the rare to ‘hot off the press,’ newly published works. All programming, includingfeature presentations by myriad authors, spoken word artists, journalists, comedians, and poets,is 100% free of charge.

Printers Row Lit Fest 2022 Schedule

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10

10:00 a.m.

Center Stage – Children’s Programming – Theatre on the Hill Presents Choose Your Own Once Upon A Time

Poetry Foundation – Children’s Programming – A bilingual reading of Pablo Neruda’s Book of Questions, Selections/Libro de Preguntas, Selecciones (Enchanted Lion Books, 2022) by translator, Sara Lissa Paulson.

Main Stage – Welcome by Near South Planning Board Chairman Steven Smutny, Chicago Public Library Commissioner Chris Brown, and First Lady Amy Eshleman. Program to follow featuring Natasha Trethewey, Harold Washington Literary Award Winner in conversation with Donna Seaman, Booklist. Program introduced by Natalie Moore, Harold Washington Literary Award Selection Committee Chair.

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – The Deep Creativity of Translation: A Reading and Discussion with Izidora Angel, Mary Hawley, and Alta L. Price. Moderated by Irina Ruvinsky. Presented by Another Chicago Magazine and the Third Coast Translators Collective.

Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Big Shoulders Press Presents Virus City: Chicago 2020-2021. Reading and Discussion featuring Amy Do,  Robin Hoecker, Emily Richards, Oscar Sanchez, and Frank Tempone. Moderated by Rebecca Johns Trissler.

Grace Place (1st Floor) – Children’s Programming -10:15am – Doors. 10:30am – Miss Friendship Ambassador 2022 Susan Liu to tell the story of the Moon Festival Presented by the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. 10:45am – Moon Festival Parade to depart Grace Place.

11:00 a.m.

Center Stage – Welcome by Alderman King One Book One Chicago – Thomas Dyja, The Third Coast and Eric Charles May, Bedrock Faith with Judy Rivera-Van Schage

Poetry Foundation – Children’s Programming – Reading by Julian Randall, Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa. Emceed by Stefania Gomez. 

Main Stage – (11:30 a.m.) WBEZ Presents Adriana Herrera, A Caribbean Heiress in Paris, and Sarah MacLean, Heartbreaker: A Hell’s Belles Novel in conversation with WBEZ’s Greta Johnsen, host of Nerdette

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Ray Long, The House That Madigan Built: The Record Run of Illinois’ Velvet Hammer in conversation with Joan Esposito

Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Unlocking Memories and Uncovering Stories: Bindy Bitterman, Skiddly Diddly Skat (children’s book) and Sharon Kramer, Time for Bubbe (children’s book) in conversation with Chicago author Beth Finke 

Grace Place (1st Floor) – Patricia Carlos Dominguez Presents Yo Luchadora (bilingual children’s book) followed by a workshop

Saturday Afternoon

12:00 p.m.

Center Stage – Erika L. Sanchez, Crying in the Bathroom: A Memoir in conversation with Juan Martinez

Poetry Foundation – – The Chicago Poetry Center – Readings by Mayda del Valle, Aricka Foreman, Tim Stafford, Natasha Mijares, C. Russell Price, and Viola Lee. Emceed by Marty McConnell.

Main Stage – (12:30 p.m) WBEZ Presents Danyel Smith, Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop in Conversation with WBEZ’s Natalie Moore

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Deborah Cohen, Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took On a World at War in conversation with Peter Slevin

Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Crises: The All Ages Show – Dan Chaon, Sleepwalk and Jean Thompson, The Poet’s House in conversation with Eileen Favorite

Grace Place (1st Floor) – Writing Overwhelming Realities – Readings by Julia Fine, Dionne Irving, Ananda Lima, Jami Nakamura Lin, and Jeffrey Wolf. Emceed by Ananda Lima.

1:00 p.m.

Center Stage – Debut Fiction: Jessamine Chan, The School for Good Mothers and Shelby Van Pelt, Remarkably Bright Creatures in conversation with Rebecca Makkai 

Main Stage – (1:30 p.m.) Chicago Sun-Times Presents The Environmental Justice Exchange: A tribute to Hazel Johnson, the Mother of Environmental Justice. Host: Brett Chase. Guests: Cheryl Johnson, Hazel’s daughter and executive director of People for Community Recovery; Tarnynon Onumonu, poet and author of “Greetings from the Moon, the Sacrificial Side”; Luis Carranza, poet and author of “Viva la Resistencia”. 

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – M. Chris Fabricant, Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System in conversation with Rob Warden

Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Sourcebooks Presents – How Books Are Made: Authors Discuss the Publishing Process. Julie Clark, The Last Flight and The Lies I Tell; Ann Dávila Cardinal, The Storyteller’s Death; Iman Hariri-Kia, A Hundred Other Girls. Moderated by Kate Roddy, Associate Editor at Sourcebooks.

2:00 p.m.

Center Stage – Title IX, 50 years later: Women writers, women’s sports – Corin Adams, Tiny Setbacks, Major Comebacks, Julie DiCaro, Sidelined: Sports, Culture, and Being a Woman in America, and Melissa Isaacson, State: A Team, a Triumph, a Transformation in conversation with Jeanie Chung

Poetry Foundation – Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, Wherever I’m At: An Anthology of Chicago Poetry – Readings by Daniel Bortzutzky, Ugochi Nwaogwugwu, Elise Paschen, and Sara Salgado. Emceed by Carlo Rotella.

Main Stage – Chicago Sun-Times Presents Social Justice in Chicago: The Mexican community’s fight to stay in the city. Host: Elvia Malagon. Guest: Mike Amezcua, author of Making Mexican Chicago: From Postwar Settlement to the Age of Gentrification

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Dr. David Ansell, The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills and Dr. Thomas Fisher, The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago ER with Katherine Davis, Crain’s

Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Elizabeth Crane, This Story Will Change: After the Happily Ever After with Kim Brooks 

Grace Place (1st Floor) – The Onion: America’s Finest News Source In The Post-Apocalypse featuring Skyler Higley and Sammi Skolmosk

3:00 p.m.

Center Stage – PHENOM & EmceeSkool (Open Mic) 

Main Stage – (3:30 p.m. ) Joe Meno, Book of Extraordinary Tragedies with Gint Aras

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Beth Macy, Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis with Alex McLevy

Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Leslie Bow, Racist Love: Asian Abstraction and the Pleasures of Fantasy with Michelle Huang.

Grace Place (1st Floor) – Rebuilding a Life – Ann McGlinn, Ride On, See You; Alex Poppe, Jinwar and Other Stories; Lynn Sloan, Midstream with Rachel Swearingen

4:00 p.m.

Center Stage – The Chicago Public Library and16th Street Theatre Present The Billboard by Natalie Moore – Staged Reading featuring Ti Nicole Danridge and Felisha McNeal followed by conversation between Natalie Moore, The BillBoard and Kathy Hey, Third Coast Review

Poetry Foundation – RHINO Poetry – Readings by April Gibson, Kathleen Rooney, Jessica Walsh, E. Hughes, Faisal Mohyuddin, Kenyatta Rogers, Jacob Saenz, Maja Teref & Steven Teref. Emceed by Naoko Fujimoto and Elizabeth O-Connell Thompson.

Main Stage – (4:30 p.m.) – Literary Death Match – Presented by StoryStudio Chicago and Near South Planning Board. All-star judges: David Cerda, Julia Morales, and Luis Urrea. Readers: Shannon Cason, Elizabeth Gomez, Mikki Kendall, and Diana Slickman. Emceed by Adrian Todd Zuniga. 

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Resistance, Resilience and Surviving the Sex Trade: – Brenda Myers-Powell, Leaving Breezy Street: A Memoir and Hannah Sward, Strip in conversation with Anne Ream, The Voices and Faces Project

5:00 p.m.

Center Stage – The Guild Complex Presents Exhibit B – Reading by CM Burroughs, Ruth Margraff, and Nami Mun. Emceed by James Stewart III

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Ramzi Fawaz, Queer Forms in conersation with Chicago LGBT Hall of Famer Owen Keehnen 

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11

10:00 a.m.

Center Stage –  Representation in Children’s Books: Reading and Conversation featuring Sam Kirk, The Meaning of Pride; Mrs. Yuka Layme, Co-Producer of Drag Queen Story Hour; Katie Schenkel, Cardboard Kingdom with Barbara Egel 

Poetry Foundation – A Poetry Reading featuring Jennifer Steele, 826 Chiand Chris Aldana, Luya Poetry

Main Stage – Pirates, Ghosts, and Loss – Sara Connell, Ghost House and Michael Zapata, The Lost Book of Adana Moreau with Paula Carter

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Kori Rumore and Marianne Mather (authors of), and Rick Kogan (prelude to) He Had It Coming: Four Murderous Women and the Reporter Who Immortalized Their Stories with Mary Wisniewski

11:00 a.m.

Center Stage – Chicago Graphic Novelists – Markisan Naso, By the Horns and Michael Moreci, Wasted Space in conversation with Terry Gant, Third Coast Comics

Poetry Foundation – Chris Abani, Smoking the Bible – Reading followed by conversation with Parneshia Jones 

Main Stage – Jamie Ford, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy in conversation with Carey Cranston, President of the American Writers Museum

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Victor Ray, On Critical Race Theory: Why It Matters & Why You Should Care with Cassandra West, Crain’s

Grace Place (2nd Floor) – – Rev. Amity Carrubba in conversation with Tom Montgomery Fate, The Long Way Home: Detours and Discoveries

Sunday Afternoon

12:00 p.m.

Center Stage – NU Press Reading, Growing Up Chicago – Second to None: Chicago Stories – Readings by Anne Calcagno, Shelley Conner, and Jessie Ann Foley. Emceed by David Schaafsma 

Poetry Foundation – Roger Reeves, Best Barbarian – Reading followed by conversation with Simone Muench. Musical accompaniment, Mai Sugimoto.

Main Stage – Girlhood in Chicago – Illinois Poet Laureate Angela Jackson, More Than Meat and Raiment and Debut Novelist Toya Wolfe, Last Summer on State Street in conversation with Amina Gautier

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Dana Suskind, Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child’s Potential, Fulfilling Society’s Promise in conversation with Heidi Stevens

1:00 p.m.

Center Stage – City in a Garden of Books: Literary Fellowship Among Independent Publishers and Booksellers – Parneshia Jones, NU Press; Dr. Haki Madhubuti, Third World Press Foundation; Doug Seibold, Agate Publishing with Jeff Deutsch, In Praise of Good Bookstore

Main Stage – Secrets – Bradeigh Godfrey, Imposter and Marie Myung-Ok Lee, The Evening Hero with Kate Wisel

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Kevin Boyle, The Shattering: America in the 1960s in conversation with Elizabeth Taylor

2:00 p.m.

Center Stage – Adam Levin, Mount Chicago in conversation with Jarrett Neal

Poetry Foundation – Young Chicago Authors – Reading featuring The Roots Crew, hosted by E’mon Lauren

Main Stage – The Moth: 25 Years of Live Storytelling featuring Grace Topinka, Melissa Earley, Archy Jamjun, and Jacoby Cochran

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Neil Steinberg, Every Goddamn Day: A Highly Selective, Definitely Opinionated, and Alternatingly Humorous and Heartbreaking Historical Tour of Chicago in conversation with Shermann Dilla Thomas (“6figga_dilla”)

3:00 p.m.

Center Stage – Reading and Conversation featuring Ana Castillo, My Book of the Dead: New Poems with Yolanda Nieves

Main Stage – Romance Panel: Legacy and Love – Ali Brady, The Beach Trap and Natalie Caña, A Proposal They Can’t Refuse with Tanya Lane

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – The Insidiousness of Hatred – Adam Langer, Cyclorama and Jerry Stahl, Nein, Nein, Nein!: One Man’s Tale of Depression, Psychic Torment, and a Bus Tour of the Holocaust in conversation with Ben Tanzer

4:00 p.m.

Center Stage – The Crisis in American Democracy – Dick Simpson, Democracy’s Rebirth: The View from Chicago and Michael Dorf, Clear It with Sid!: Sidney R. Yates and Fifty Years of Presidents, Pragmatism, and Public Service with Gerry Plecki, President of The Society of Midland Authors

Poetry Foundation – Reading and Conversation featuring Tara Betts, Refuse to Disappear and Keli Stewart, Small Altars. Moderated by Rachel Jamison Webster

Main Stage – Chloé Cooper Jones, Easy Beauty: A Memoir with Gina Frangello

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Sarah Kendzior, They Knew: How a Culture of Conspiracy Keeps America Complacent – with Rick Perlstein, Crain’s

5:00 p.m.

Center Stage – Blue Heron Press, Open Heart Chicago: An Anthology of Chicago Writing – Readings by Dorothy Frey, Lorena Ornelas, Joe Peterson, and Sandi Wisenberg. Emceed by Editor Vincent Francone.

Main Stage – Debut YA Fiction – Giano Cromley, The Prince of Infinite Space and Skyler Schrempp, Three Strike Summer with Michelle Falkof

731 S. Plymouth Ct. – A Visual Read of the City – Lee Bey, Chicago Sun-Times architecture critic; Blair Kamin, former Chicago Tribune architect critic; Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s with Gerald Butters\

Book review, signing: New book offers fresh take on Gary/Chicago resident, Nelson Algren

Mary Wisniewski was a college student when she first discovered the writings of Chicago writer Nelson Algren.

Author Mary Wisniewski

“Many of his books were set in Wicker Park where my family was from which intrigued me,” says Wisniewski, noting that though Algren’s novels are about shady characters, drug addicts, grifters, drifters and those on the margins of society, she found his writing lyrical, beautiful and poetic.

“It turned me into an Algren hag,” she says

“I told all my friends to read his books, and I started reading everything he had written that I could find — I found it surprising that his writings weren’t part of the literature canon in colleges,” Wisniewski says.

From there it became a natural progression to writing “Algren: A Life,” winner of the 2017 Society of Midland Authors award for best biography and the Chicago Writers Association award for best non-fiction, and the first biography about Algren in more than a quarter-century.

Delving more and more into his life, Wisniewski even read his FBI file, a mammoth collection of investigative reports because of his leftist leanings and, as Wisniewski says, “his belief that the crust of civilization in America is pretty thin.”

Algren lived a chaotic life that included a long-term love affair with French writer, Simone de Beauvoir, who had another lover, the French philosopher, Paul Sartre. Besides sharing a woman, they were friends and liked to box.

Algren often was short of funds — famed Chicago writer and broadcaster Studs Terkel, who was a friend, lent him money, which Algren always repaid. And he married and divorced three times. Having the FBI hounding him and taking away his passport didn’t help.

He also became discouraged with his lack of commercial success, even though two of his novels were made into films with major stars — “The Man with the Golden Arm” starred Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak (another Chicagoan), and “Walk on the Wild Side” featured Lawrence Harvey and Jane Fonda. Through it all, he continued writing.

Surprisingly for someone who wrote about the underside of life, he also expressed feminist sensitivities much earlier than most, Wisniewski says.

“In the 1950s, he wrote an essay about how Playboy magazine objectified women and turned them into commodities,” she says.

Algren, whose grandfather and father were from the Black Oak neighborhood of Gary, also had a Northwest Indiana connection, owned a home in Miller Beach.

The Nelson Algren Museum of Miller Beach, located in the 1928 Telephone Building once owned by his friend, David Peltz, is now owned by the Indiana Landmarks Foundation.

“I think Algren’s time has come again,” Wisniewski says.

“I think he’s like Dickens in London; he’s given Chicago a way to see itself. I always tell people that once they get a Chicago address and CTA card, they need to buy his book, “Chicago: City on the Make.”

If you go:

What: Join Mary Wisniewski as she discusses Nelson Algren and his work. Book signing to follow.

When: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11

Where: The Betty Barclay Community Room at the Edgewater Branch of the Chicago Public Library, 6000 N. Broadway, Chicago.

FYI: (312) 742-1945; chipublib.org

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Susan Orlean’s newest book, The Library Book (Simon & Schuster, $28), is about a fire and a library but like all things this New York Times bestselling author writes (The Orchid Thief, Rin Tin Tin), it’s so much more. A lover of libraries since she was very young, Orlean had been toying with the idea of writing about the subject when her son, then six-years-old, announced that his class assignment was to write about a city employee and instead of the typical fireman or policeman interview, he wanted to write about a librarian.Susan Orlean_credit Noah FecksSusan Orlean_credit Noah Fecks         Then, after moving to Los Angeles, Orlean was at the Los Angeles Central Public Library when the librarian opened a book, took a sniff and announced that you could still smell the smoke. Orlean asked if that was from a time when smoking was allowed. The answer was no, instead the aroma dated back to April 29, 1986 when an inferno blazed for seven hours, reaching 2500 degrees. It took half of the Los Angeles’s firefighting resources to extinguish the blaze and by then flames and water had destroyed 400,000 books and damaged another 700,000.
“It was the combination of all of these that gave me the final push; it was as if I was being nudged, repeatedly, to look at libraries and find a narrative about them to write,” says Orlean, a staff writer at The New Yorker and author of seven books. “Learning about the fire was definitely the final nudge that made me sure this was the story I wanted to tell.”

But how to tell the story? For Orlean, who is obsessive about details and research—it took her almost as long to write the book as it did to rebuild the library—she had to figure out her focus.

“That’s exactly what the challenge was–it was a topic that was both broad and deep, with so much history and so many ways I could pursue it,” she says. “I finally decided to treat it as a browse through a library, with stops in different ‘departments’ of the story, such as the history, the fire, the present day, my own library memories. By visualizing the story that way I was able to move through the topic and engage as many aspects of it as I could.”

Her attention to details, both past and present is amazing and intriguing. We learn that Mary Foy, only 18, became the head of LAPL and also, because the fire was set by an arsonist, she delves into previous book burnings such as when in 213 B.C. Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered any history book he didn’t agree with be destroyed. The act, says Orlean, resulted in over four hundred scholars being buried alive.

In keeping with her compulsive exploration, Orlean even tried burning a book herself, just to see what happens and how it is done.

Asked to name her favorite library, Orlean mentions the Bertram Woods branch library in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

“That’s where I fell in love with libraries and became a passionate reader,” she says. “Of course, I’ll always feel a special attachment to the L.A. Public Library, because of the book, and it’s a great library to be in love with.”

Orlean also hopes people appreciate the gifts library give us.

“I want people to think about the nature of memory, both individual memory and common memory,” she says. “Our individual memories are as rich as a library, full of volumes of information and vignettes and fantasies. And our common memory is our libraries, where all the stories of our culture reside. I love reminding people of the value of both.”

Ifyougo:

What: Susan Orlean discusses her new book followed by a book signing.

When: November 13th at 6 pm

Where: Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago Public Library, 400 S. State Street, Chicago IL

Cost: Free

FYI: (312) 747-4300; chipublib.org

 

Author Peter Cozzens Discusses The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West

For most cozzens_jacketof us who learned about the Wild West from movies, novels and TV shows both old and new, we’ve seen the concept of Native Americans go from persecutors to persecuted. But neither reality is true says Peter Cozzens, author of 16 books on the American Civil War and the Indian Wars that followed. Indeed, many senior army officers were sympathetic to the Indians and advocates of their rights says Cozzens in his latest book, “The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West” (Knopf 2016; $35).

“Another myth is that the government was exterminationist—cultural extermination, yes, but the government never contemplated the physical eradication of the Indians in the west,” says Cozzens who will be signing copies of his book on both Saturday and Monday in Chicago. “The War Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs were constantly at odds over Indian policy with the military often more humane and restrained in their treatment.”

The third myth, according to Cozzens, is that the Indians stood united in opposition to white encroachment on their lands. Instead, in ways that helped doom their way of live, tribes continued to fight amongst each other at the same time they tried to stave off the encroachment of their lands.”

Cozzens, who retired from the American Foreign Service, is an avid researcher into the history of a time in our country so few of us really understand. It’s a very complicated period where many fascinating characters stand out including President Ulysses Grant, George Custer, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Red Cloud and General William Tecumseh Sherman. He soughtcozzens_author-photo out many Indian sources, weaving their information with American history in order to balance each one.

Spending so much time immersed in this time and place, Cozzens says that when he went to tribal lands in the West, places that haven’t changed much over the last century, he can feel what it must have been like for both the Indians and the military all those years ago.
Ifyougo:

What: Peter Cozzens book signings and talks at two Chicago venues.

When & Where: Saturday, October 29 at Noon. Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, 824 W. Superior St., Suite 100, Chicago, IL and Monday, October 31 at 6pm at the Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Cindy Pritzker Auditorium (lower level), 400 South State St., Chicago, IL

Cost: Free

The Daughters of the Last Tsar

In her latest book, The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra (St. Martin’s Press 2015; $17.99), historian Helen Rappaport writes about the four young women who, as daughters of the Tsar of Russia, were swept up in the Russian Revolution in 1917.

“I had a very longstanding desire to write about the Romanov sisters because I felt very strongly that they had been totally marginalized by history – they had always been the pretty set dressing to the bigger more dramatic story of their parents, Nicholas aRomanov Sisters cover_Fotornd Alexandra, and their tragic young brother who was heir to the throne,” says Rappaport. “I wanted to tell their story, as individuals, to describe their own unique personalities, for they were very different from each other, and show what a loving and supportive group of sisters they were to their sick mother and brother, and how they kept everyone’s spirits up after the revolution changed their world so irrevocably.”

Known to most of us by photos showing them dressed in exquisite white dresses and large hats and by the movies and novels based upon the mystery of Anastasia, the youngest of the sisters and whether she had escaped the mass slaughter of the rest of her family (she didn’t, says Rappaport), the author did extensive research finding newspapers, memoirs, journals and letters scattered across the globe.

It was a time full of so many imponderables and so much that could have been different says Rappaport including how the revolution could have been averted if Nicholas II had agreed to political concessions and the formation of a truly democratic government or if the tsarina Alexandra had not allowed herself to be so in thrall to Rasputin because of her desperation at keeping her son Alexey, who was a hemophiliac, alive, thanks to his supposed gifts of healing.

“I always live with my subjects very intensely when writing my books and immerse myself very deeply in the period of history,” says Rappaport, author of 12 books.  “But I have to say that of all the books I have written, the Romanov sisters lived in my heart and my mind much more than any of my other subjects. I am myself a mother of two daughters, and have a granddaughter the age Anastasia was when she died. By the end of my research Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia felt like my own daughters.   And they will always be with me, no matter what else I write.  I wanted so passionately to tell their story.”

Ifyougo:

What: Author Helen Rappaport Discusses the Romanov Sisters

When: 6:30-8:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 11

Where: Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State Street, Chicago IL

Cost: Free

FYI: (312) 747-4300

 

 

 

 

 

 

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