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An Evening with Steve Luxenberg
Apr
24
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Steve Luxenberg

A surprising, compelling, and brilliant milestone in understanding the history of race relations in America.

This April, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome Steve Luxenberg to Harrisburg as he presents his new book, Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation. Luxenberg will be in conversation with Harrisburg's own, Harvey Freedenberg. This event is free and open to the public.

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About the Book:

A myth-shattering narrative of how a nation embraced "separation" and its pernicious consequences.

Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court case synonymous with “separate but equal,” created remarkably little stir when the justices announced their near-unanimous decision on May 18, 1896. Yet it is one of the most compelling and dramatic stories of the nineteenth century, whose outcome embraced and protected segregation, and whose reverberations are still felt into the twenty-first.

Separate spans a striking range of characters and landscapes, bound together by the defining issue of their time and ours―race and equality. Wending its way through a half-century of American history, the narrative begins at the dawn of the railroad age, in the North, home to the nation’s first separate railroad car, then moves briskly through slavery and the Civil War to Reconstruction and its aftermath, as separation took root in nearly every aspect of American life.

Award-winning author Steve Luxenberg draws from letters, diaries, and archival collections to tell the story of Plessy v. Ferguson through the eyes of the people caught up in the case. Separate depicts indelible figures such as the resisters from the mixed-race community of French New Orleans, led by Louis Martinet, a lawyer and crusading newspaper editor; Homer Plessy’s lawyer, Albion Tourgée, a best-selling author and the country’s best-known white advocate for civil rights; Justice Henry Billings Brown, from antislavery New England, whose majority ruling endorsed separation; and Justice John Harlan, the Southerner from a slaveholding family whose singular dissent cemented his reputation as a steadfast voice for justice.

Sweeping, swiftly paced, and richly detailed, Separate provides a fresh and urgently-needed exploration of our nation’s most devastating divide.

About the Author:

Steve Luxenberg is the author of Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation and the critically acclaimed Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret. During his thirty years as a Washington Post senior editor, he has overseen reporting that has earned numerous national honors, including two Pulitzer Prizes. Separate won the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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The Presidents: An Afternoon with Brian Lamb and Susan Swain
Apr
28
4:00 PM16:00

The Presidents: An Afternoon with Brian Lamb and Susan Swain

The complete rankings of our best -- and worst -- presidents, based on C-SPAN's much-cited Historians Surveys of Presidential Leadership.

This April, we’re thrilled to welcome C-SPAN Chairman Brian Lamb and CEO Susan Swain to Harrisburg as they discuss their new book, The Presidents: Noted Historians Rank America's Best--and Worst--Chief Executives. WITF’s Scott LaMar will moderate the discussion. This event is free and open to the public — book signing to follow.

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Over a period of decades, C-SPAN has surveyed leading historians on the best and worst of America's presidents across a variety of categories -- their ability to persuade the public, their leadership skills, the moral authority, and more. The crucible of the presidency has forged some of the very best and very worst leaders in our national history, along with much in between.
Based on interviews conducted over the years with a variety of presidential biographers, this book provides not just a complete ranking of our presidents, but stories and analyses that capture the character of the men who held the office. From Abraham Lincoln's political savvy and rhetorical gifts to James Buchanan's indecisiveness, this book teaches much about what makes a great leader--and what does not.

As America looks ahead to our next election, this book offers perspective and criteria that may help us choose our next leader wisely.

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About the Authors:

Susan Swain has been interviewing Washington notables for three decades, sitting down with presidents and first ladies, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, historians, and political journalists. She integrates this with her management role – since 2012, she's also served as co-CEO of the public affairs cable network.

She and C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb have collaborated on nine books, published by PublicAffairs. Their latest, published in spring 2019, is "The Presidents: Noted Historians on America's Best -- and Worst-- Chief Executives." Susan edits Brian Lamb's interviews with the country's top presidential historians into lively essays that provide snapshots into life events that have shaped our leaders, political challenges they faced, and the legacies they left behind. The book's unique twist -- it's organized by C-SPAN's often cited Historians' Survey of Presidential Leadership. 

Some of Swain and Lamb's past titles include ""The Supreme Court," and "Abraham Lincoln." And in 2015, Susan produced "First Ladies," following a year-long biography series she hosted for C-SPAN on the lives of every presidential spouse.

"The Presidents" has already been chosen by the History Book Club as a featured title for April 2019.

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An Evening with Nicole Weisensee Egan
May
2
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Nicole Weisensee Egan

The definitive account of Bill Cosby's transition from revered father figure to convicted criminal, told by a veteran crime reporter and senior writer for People magazine.


Sponsored by:


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In conjunction with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome Nicole Weinsensee Egan to Harrisburg as she discusses her new book, Chasing Cosby. This event is free and open to the public. Book signing to follow discussion.

About the Book:

Bill Cosby's decades-long career as a sweater-wearing, wholesome TV dad came to a swift and stunning end on April 26, 2018, when he was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand. The mounting allegations against Bill Cosby--more than 60 women have come forward to accuse him of similar crimes--and his ultimate conviction were a shock to Americans, who wanted to cleave to their image of Cosby as a pudding-pop hero. 

Award-winning journalist and former People magazine senior writer Nicki Weisensee Egan was the first reporter to dig into the story when Constand went to the police in 2005. Other news organizations looked away, but Egan doggedly investigated the case, developing ties with entrenched sources and discovering incriminating details that would ultimately come to influence the prosecution.

In her debut book, Chasing Cosby, Egan shares her firsthand account of Cosby's 13-year run from justice. She tells us how Cosby planned and executed his crimes, and how Hollywood alliances and law enforcement knew what Cosby was doing but did nothing to stop him. A veteran crime reporter, Egan also explores the cultural and social issues that influenced the case, delving into the psychological calculations of a serial predator and into the psyche of a nation that fervently wanted to put their faith in the innocence of "American's Dad."

Rich in character and rife with dramatic revelations about popular culture, media power, and our criminal system, Egan's account will inform and fascinate readers with its candid telling of humanity's most enduring tale: the rise and fall of a cultural icon.

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About the Author:

Nicole Weisensee Egan has been the lead investigative journalist reporting on the Cosby case since 2005, first for the Philadelphia Daily News and then as a Senior Writer for PEOPLE magazine. She covered the second trial for The Daily Beast and is and is already working on her second book. Egan continues to report and write, and she also teaches magazine writing at Temple University. She lives in Royersford, PA.

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An Evening with Mark Bowden
May
4
6:00 PM18:00

An Evening with Mark Bowden

From the New York Times bestselling author of Black Hawk Down — a chilling and unprecedented look inside a disturbing criminal mind.

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This May, bestselling author Mark Bowden visits Harrisburg to discuss his new book of true crime, The Last Stone: A Masterpiece of Criminal Interrogation. This event is free and open to the public. Book signing to follow discussion.

On March 29, 1975, sisters Katherine and Sheila Lyons, age 10 and 12, vanished from a shopping mall in suburban Washington, D.C. As shock spread, then grief, a massive police effort found nothing. The investigation was shelved, and mystery endured. Then, in 2013, a cold case squad detective found something he and a generation of detectives had missed. It pointed them toward a man named Lloyd Welch, then serving time for child molestation in Delaware.

As a cub reporter for a Baltimore newspaper, Mark Bowden covered the frantic first weeks of the story. In The Last Stone, he returns to write its ending. Over months of intense questioning and extensive investigation of Welch’s sprawling, sinister Appalachian clan, five skilled detectives learned to sift truth from determined lies. How do you get a compulsive liar with every reason in the world to lie to tell the truth? The Last Stone recounts a masterpiece of criminal interrogation, and delivers a chilling and unprecedented look inside a disturbing criminal mind.

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About the Author:

Mark Bowden is the author of thirteen books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Black Hawk Down. He reported at the Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years and now writes for the AtlanticVanity Fair, and other magazines. He is also the writer in residence at the University of Delaware. His most recent book is Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam.

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An Evening with Jim Rietmulder
May
7
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Jim Rietmulder

From the Founding Educator of The Circle School in Harrisburg — When Kids Rule the School is the first comprehensive guide to democratic schooling, where kids practice life in a self-governed society—empowered as voters, bound by laws, challenged by choice, supported by community, and driven by nature.

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This May, we’re pleased to welcome educator and author Jim Rietmulder to Harrisburg as he presents his new book, When Kids Rule the School The Power and Promise of Democratic Education. This event is free and open to the public!

About the Book:

Education is ripe for democratic disruption. Students in most schools are denied fundamental social ideals such as personal freedom, public government, rule of law, and free enterprise. In our increasingly authoritarian post-truth world, self-directed democratic schooling offers a timely alternative: educating children in civilized society and showing that self-motivation outperforms coercion in its power to educate and fulfill.

When Kids Rule the School is the first comprehensive guide to democratic schooling, where kids practice life in a self-governed society—empowered as voters, bound by laws, challenged by choice, supported by community, and driven by nature. Through heartwarming stories and hard-headed details, this book covers:

  • Democratic schooling philosophy, theory, and practice

  • School governance by students and staff together

  • Student self-direction and day-to-day life

  • Deep play, cognitive development, and critical thinking

  • Why democratic schooling is morally right and effective

  • Model bylaws and guidance for starting a democratic school.

Created for educators, parents, and scholars, When Kids Rule the School will immerse you, heart and mind, in a promising new approach to education, and stretch your thinking about what school can be.

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About the Author:

James Rietmulder is a founding staff member and educator at The Circle School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a pioneering democratic school, where he has worked for 34 years. With his support, students at The Circle School practice freedom and responsibility in a scaled-down version of the larger world, becoming experts at life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Jim also tutors students to take college entrance exams, plays mixed-age soccer at every opportunity, and anchors the daily Critical Thinking Discussion Group. Prior to, and overlapping with, The Circle School's early years, Jim was a history magazine editor, business analyst, independent software developer, and management consultant to manufacturers. Jim is married to co-founder Beth L. Stone and is the father of two Circle School graduates. He lives in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania.

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An Evening with D. Watkins
May
11
6:00 PM18:00

An Evening with D. Watkins

From the row houses of Baltimore to the stoops of Brooklyn, with searing conviction and full compassion — D. Watkins lays bare the voices of the most vulnerable and allows their raw, intimate stories to uncover the systematic injustice threaded within our society.

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This May, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is thrilled to welcome author D. Watkins to Harrisburg as he presents his new book, We Speak For Ourselves: A Word from Forgotten Black America. This event is free and open to the public.

About the Book:

Honest and eye-opening, We Speak for Ourselves makes us listen, feel, and create a course toward change that starts right where we are.

Watkins introduces you to Down Bottom, the storied community of East Baltimore that holds a mirror to America’s poor black neighborhoods—“hoods” that could just as easily be in Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, or Atlanta. As Watkins sees it, the perspective of people who live in economically disadvantaged black communities is largely absent from the commentary of many top intellectuals who speak and write about race.

Unapologetic and sharp-witted, D. Watkins is here to tell the truth as he has seen it. We Speak for Ourselves offers an in-depth analysis of inner-city hurdles and honors the stories therein. We sit in underfunded schools, walk the blocks burdened with police corruption, stand within an audience of Make America Great Again hats, journey from trap house to university lecture, and rally in neglected streets. And we listen.

Watkins shares the lessons he has learned while navigating through two very distinct worlds—the hood and the elite sanctums of prominent black thinkers and public figures—serving hope to fellow Americans who are too often ignored and calling on others to examine what it means to be a model activist in today’s world. We Speak for Ourselves is a must-read for all who are committed to social change.

About the Author:

D. Watkins is editor-at-large for Salon. He’s also a college professor at the University of Baltimore and founder of the BMORE Writers Project. His work has been published in The New York Times, Guardian, Rolling Stone, and other publications. Watkins is the author of The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir and The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America. He lives in East Baltimore.

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How We Resist: An Evening with Michael Long and George Lakey
May
15
7:00 PM19:00

How We Resist: An Evening with Michael Long and George Lakey

From the acclaimed speakers on non-violent resistance — Michael Long and George Lakey visit Harrisburg for a powerful conversation on non-violent resistance, how to gain political power, and successful strategies to achieve real progressive victories.

This May, we’re pleased to welcome authors Michael Long and George Lakey as they discuss their new books, We the Resistance and How We Win. This event is free and open to the public.

About We the Resistance:

While historical accounts of the United States typically focus on the nation's military past, a rich and vibrant counterpoint remains basically unknown to most Americans. This alternate story of the formation of our nation—and its character―is one in which courageous individuals and movements have wielded the weapons of nonviolence to resist policies and practices they considered to be unjust, unfair, and immoral. 

We the Resistance gives curious citizens and current resisters unfiltered access to the hearts and minds―the rational and passionate voices―of their activist predecessors. Beginning with the pre-Revolutionary era and continuing through the present day, readers will directly encounter the voices of protesters sharing instructive stories about their methods (from sit-ins to tree-sitting) and opponents (from Puritans to Wall Street bankers), as well as inspirational stories about their failures (from slave petitions to the fight for the ERA) and successes (from enfranchisement for women to today's reform of police practices). Instruction and inspiration run throughout this captivating reader, generously illustrated with historic graphics and photographs of nonviolent protests throughout U.S. history.

About How We Win:

A lifetime of activist experience informs this playbook for building and conducting nonviolent direct action campaigns

Beginning as a trainer in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, George Lakey has been on the front lines of social change for decades. 

Now, in this timely and down-to-earth guide, he passes the torch to a new generation of activists hitting the streets. He looks to successful campaigns across the world to help us see what has worked and what hasn’t: from choosing the right target, to designing a creative campaign; from avoiding burnout within your group, to building a movement of movements to achieve real progressive victories. 

Drawing on the experiences of a diverse set of ambitious change-makers, How We Win shows us the way to justice, peace, and a sustainable economy. This is what democracy looks like.

About the Authors:

Michael Long is an associate professor of religious studies and peace and conflict studies at Elizabethtown College and is the author or editor of numerous books on civil rights, religion, and politics, including We the Resistance: Documenting A History of Nonviolent Protest in the United StatesJackie Robinson: A Spiritual BiographyPeaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister RogersGay Is Good: The Life and Letters of Gay Rights Pioneer Franklin KamenyBeyond Home Plate: Jackie Robinson on Life after BaseballMartin Luther King, Jr., Homosexuality, and the Early Gay Rights MovementI Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in LettersMarshalling Justice: The Early Civil Rights Letters of Thurgood MarshallFirst Class Citizenship: The Civil Rights Letters of Jackie RobinsonThe Legacy of Billy GrahamBilly Graham and the Beloved Community; and Against Us, But for Us: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the State. 

George Lakey has been active in direct action campaigns for six decades. Recently retired from Swarthmore College, where he was the Eugene M. Lang Visiting Professor for Issues of Social Change, Lakey was first arrested at a civil rights demonstration in March 1963, and his most recent arrest was March 29, 2018, as a participant in the Power Local Green Jobs Campaign. He lives in Philadelphia.
 

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An Evening with Igor Volsky
May
21
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Igor Volsky

Twenty years after Columbine, a leading gun control activist offers a radical argument for the gun control movement our country desperately needs.

This May, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome author Igor Volsky to Harrisburg as he presents his new book, Guns Down: How to Defeat the NRA and Build a Safer Future with Fewer Guns. This event is free and open to the public.

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About the Book:

Ninety-six people die from guns in America every single day. Twelve thousand Americans are murdered each year. The United States has more mass shootings, gun suicides, and nonfatal gun injuries than any other industrialized country in the world. Gun-safety advocates have tried to solve these problems with incremental changes such as background checks and banning assault style military weapons. They have fallen short. In order to significantly and permanently reduce gun deaths the United States needs a bold new approach: a drastic reduction of the 390 million guns already in circulation and a new movement dedicated to a future with fewer guns.

In Guns Down, Igor Volsky tells the story of how he took on the NRA just by using his Twitter account, describes how he found common ground with gun enthusiasts after spending two days shooting guns in the desert, and lays out a blueprint for how citizens can push their governments to reduce the number of guns in circulation and make firearms significantly harder to get. An aggressive licensing and registration initiative, federal and state buybacks of millions of guns, and tighter regulation of the gun industry, the gun lobby, and gun sellers will build safer communities for all. Volsky outlines a New Second Amendment Compact developed with policy experts from across the political spectrum, including bold reforms that have succeeded in reducing gun violence worldwide, and offers a road map for achieving transformative change to increase safety in our communities.

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About the Author:

Igor Volsky is the co-founder and executive director of Guns Down America, an organization dedicated to building a future with fewer guns. He made headlines in 2015 for shaming lawmakers who took money from the NRA and sent “thoughts and prayers” after mass shootings. A lively interlocutor, he has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CNBC television, and many radio shows. He lives in Washington, DC.

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An Evening with Lorene Cary
May
22
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Lorene Cary

In Ladysitting, Cary captures the ruptures, love, and, perhaps, forgiveness that can occur in a family as she bears witness to her grandmother’s 101 vibrant years of life.

This May, we’re pleased to welcome award-winning author Lorene Cary as she presents her new memoir, Ladysitting: My Year with Nana at the End of Her Century. This event is free and open to the public!

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About the Book:

Lorene Cary’s grandmother moves in, and everything changes: day-to-day life, family relationships, the Nana she knew―even their shared past.

From cherished memories of weekends she spent as a child with her indulgent Nana to the reality of the year she spent “ladysitting” her now frail grandmother, Lorene Cary journeys through stories of their time together and five generations of their African American family. Brilliantly weaving a narrative of her complicated yet transformative relationship with Nana―a fierce, stubborn, and independent woman, who managed a business until she was 100―Cary looks at Nana’s impulse to control people and fate, from the early death of her mother and oppression in the Jim Crow South to living on her own in her New Jersey home.

Cary knew there might be some reckonings to come. Nana was a force: Her obstinacy could come out in unanticipated ways―secretly getting a driver’s license to show up her husband, carrying on a longtime feud with Cary’s father. But Nana could also be devoted: to Nana’s father, to black causes, and―Cary had thought―to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Facing the inevitable end raises tensions, with Cary drawing on her spirituality and Nana consoling herself with late-night sweets and the loyalty of caregivers. When Nana doubts Cary’s dedication, Cary must go deeper into understanding this complicated woman.

In Ladysitting, Cary captures the ruptures, love, and, perhaps, forgiveness that can occur in a family as she bears witness to her grandmother’s 101 vibrant years of life.

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About the Author:

Lorene Cary is the author of the memoirs Ladysitting and Black Ice, three novels, including The Price of a Child, and one book for young readers. She founded Art Sanctuary and SafeKidsStories.com, teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, and has written a one-act opera of Ladysitting. She lives in Philadelphia.

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May
30
7:00 PM19:00

Undocumented: An Evening with the Poets Laureate of Pennsylvania

This May, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore and Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel are pleased to welcome the Poets Laureate of Pennsylvania to present their new collection, Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice.

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Several current and former Poets Laureate will read their work from the collection, including Heather Thomas of Berks County, Sandra Fees of Berks County, Carla Christopher of the City of York, Barbara Buckman Strasko of Lancaster County and Rick Kearns of the City of Harrisburg. Each of these poets is known locally and nationally for their lyrical talents along with their commitment to justice.

About the Book:

Focusing on contemporary issues, Undocumented showcases a large collection of regional poets laureate writing on subjects critical to understanding social justice. Includes writing by seventy-eight poets and organized around themes from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide,” this collection calls on readers to act on behalf of victims of social injustice.

Praise:

"Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice is an inspiring gift of wisdom, grit, and resolve. These celebrated poets have created what Adrienne Rich calls a “cairn of . . . intention.” Radical to the root, this soul-searing collection, sharp as singing knives and hot as fired stones, calls for justice and action: we must learn to heal one another in this precious, broken world".
Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Poet Laureate, 2005–2009, Halifax, Nova Scotia
 
"Riekki and Scarpino’s Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice speaks to the tangible way in which poets laureate can raise awareness of key social justice areas in the places where they live, work, and write. Its arrival is timely, given the often negative and sometimes apathetic state of our current social and political climate, when poets and writers are even more and more needed to shine light into darker spaces. These poems witness real injustices in our world but still sing with hope. This is the power of good poetry."
Kim Fahner, Poet Laureate, 2016–2018, Sudbury, Ontario
 
" In Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice, Great Lakes poetry washes our souls from the tiredness of the long roads we crossed and makes our journey worth it. Like water, it flows and, without discrimination, reflects our faces one by one.
Dunya Mikhail, 2001 recipient of the United Nations Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing"
 
"This unique anthology taps into the poetry of social justice by poets laureate from the Great Lakes region. In selecting specific poems by Great Lakes poets, Riekki and Scarpino connect their work with the larger, important aspects of social justice. The collection is fresh, very timely, and extremely insightful, and serves as a clarion call to our nation."
M. L. Liebler, Poet Laureate, St. Clair Shores, Michigan

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Third in the Burg with Shine Delphi
Apr
19
7:00 PM19:00

Third in the Burg with Shine Delphi

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The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome Shine Delphi to Harrisburg for April's Third in the Burg!

This event is free and open to the public.

About the Artist:

Shine Delphi travels this world with a resonator guitar and a few words to share. Born in Pennsylvania, raised in California, and rebirthed in the crescent city of New Orleans. Shine is a performer that will leave you feeling good and wanting more. From his technical ability on the guitar to his simple yet touching lyrics, he is an act that spans many genres and all ages. He has opened for such bands as The Carolina Chocolate drops, Reverend Peyton's big damn band, and The Tony Rice unit just to name a few.

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An Evening with Anthony Grooms
Apr
17
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Anthony Grooms

Inspired by true events, The Vain Conversation reflects on the 1946 lynching of two black couples in Georgia.

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome author Anthony Grooms to Harrisburg as he discusses his new novel, The Vain Conversation. Book signing to follow discussion. This event is free and open to the public.

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About the Book:

Inspired by true events, The Vain Conversation reflects on the 1946 lynching of two black couples in Georgia from the perspectives of three characters―Bertrand Johnson, one of the victims; Noland Jacks, a presumed perpetrator; and Lonnie Henson, a witness to the murders as a ten-year-old boy. Lonnie's inexplicable feelings of culpability drive him in a search for meaning that takes him around the world, and ultimately back to Georgia, where he must confront Jacks and his own demons, with the hopes that doing so will free him from the grip of the past.

In The Vain Conversation, Anthony Grooms seeks to advance the national dialogue on race relations. With complexity, satire, and sometimes levity, he explores what it means to redeem, as well as to be redeemed, on the issues of America's race violence and speaks to the broader issues of oppression and violence everywhere.

A foreword is provided by American poet, painter, and novelist Clarence Major. An afterward is written by T. Geronimo Johnson, the bestselling author of Welcome to Braggsville and Hold It 'Til It Hurts.

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About the Author:

Anthony Grooms is the author of Bombingham: A Novel and Trouble No More: Stories, both winners of the Lillian Smith Book Award for fiction. Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, he has taught writing and American literature at universities in Ghana and Sweden, and since 1994, at Kennesaw State University in Georgia.

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An Evening with Charles Fergus
Apr
15
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Charles Fergus

“A Stranger Here Below marries richly textured historical fiction with the urgency of a mystery novel. Fergus knows certain things, deep in the bone: horses, hunting, the folkways of rural places, and he weaves this wisdom into a stirring tale.” — Geraldine Brooks

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This April, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome author Charles Fergus as he presents his new novel, A Stranger Here Below. Book signing to follow discussion. This event is free and open to the public.

About the Book:

For fans of C.J. Box's Joe Pickett series, a fabulous historical mystery series set in early America. 

Set in 1835 in the Pennsylvania town of Adamant, Fergus’s first novel in a new mystery series introduces Sheriff Gideon Stoltz, who, as a young deputy, is thrust into his position by the death of the previous sheriff. Gideon faces his first real challenge as death rocks the small town again when the respected judge Hiram Biddle commits suicide. No one is more distraught than Gideon, whom the old judge had befriended as a mentor and hunting partner. Gideon is regarded with suspicion as an outsider: he’s new to town, and Pennsylvania Dutch in the back-country Scotch-Irish settlement. And he found the judge’s body. 

Making things even tougher is the way the judge’s death stirs up vivid memories of Gideon’s mother’s murder, the trauma that drove him west from his home in the settled Dutch country of eastern Pennsylvania. He had also discovered her body. 

At first Gideon simply wants to learn why Judge Biddle killed himself. But as he finds out more about the judge’s past, he realizes that his friend's suicide was spurred by much more than the man’s despair. Gideon’s quest soon becomes more complex as it takes him down a dangerous path into the past.

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About the Author:

Charles Fergus is the author of seventeen books. The book review editor for Shooting Sportsman magazine, he has written for publications as various as Pennsylvania Game News,Audubon , Country Journal , Gray’s Sporting Journal , Yale Review , and the New York Times . A Stranger Here Below, his first mystery, is influenced by the personal tragedy of his own mother's murder. Fergus lives in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom with his wife, the writer Nancy Marie Brown, and four Icelandic horses. http://www.charlesfergus.com

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An Evening with Alison Dagnes
Apr
13
6:00 PM18:00

An Evening with Alison Dagnes

Based on extensive interviews with leading media figures and politicos, this book traces the development of the media machine, giving suggestions on how to restore our national dialogue while defending our right to disagree agreeably.

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This April, we’re pleased to welcome Political Scientist Alison Dagnes to Harrisburg as she presents her new book, Super Mad at Everything All the Time: Political Media and Our National Anger.

This event is free and open to the public!

About the Book:

Super Mad at Everything All the Time explores the polarization of American politics through the collapse of the space between politics and culture, as bolstered by omnipresent media. It seeks to explain this perfect storm of money, technology, and partisanship that has created two entirely separate news spheres: a small, enclosed circle for the right wing and a sprawling expanse for everyone else. This leads to two sets of facts, two narratives, and two loudly divergent political sides with extraordinary anger all around. Based on extensive interviews with leading media figures and politicos, this book traces the development of the media machine, giving suggestions on how to restore our national dialogue while defending our right to disagree agreeably.

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About the Author:

Alison Dagnes is a professor of Political Science at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. She is the author of several books on political media and has also edited two books on political scandal, a topic that continues to keep her busy. She is interviewed frequently in the national media and gives public talks on political behavior. Prior to receiving her doctorate in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Dr. Dagnes was a producer for C-SPAN in Washington, DC.

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An Evening with Amy Murrell Taylor
Apr
6
6:00 PM18:00

An Evening with Amy Murrell Taylor

“Without doubt, this book is the starting point for anyone interested in the saga and often tragedy that befell hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children in the wartime transition from slavery to freedom. “

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This April, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome Amy Murrell Taylor to Harrisburg as she presents her new book, Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps. Book signing to follow presentation.

This event is free and open to the public.

About the Book:

The Civil War was just days old when the first enslaved men, women, and children began fleeing their plantations to seek refuge inside the lines of the Union army as it moved deep into the heart of the Confederacy. In the years that followed, hundreds of thousands more followed in a mass exodus from slavery that would destroy the system once and for all. Drawing on an extraordinary survey of slave refugee camps throughout the country, Embattled Freedom reveals as never before the everyday experiences of these refugees from slavery as they made their way through the vast landscape of army-supervised camps that emerged during the war. Amy Murrell Taylor vividly reconstructs the human world of wartime emancipation, taking readers inside military-issued tents and makeshift towns, through commissary warehouses and active combat, and into the realities of individuals and families struggling to survive physically as well as spiritually. Narrating their journeys in and out of the confines of the camps, Taylor shows in often gripping detail how the most basic necessities of life were elemental to a former slave's quest for freedom and full citizenship.

The stories of individuals--storekeepers, a laundress, and a minister among them--anchor this ambitious and wide-ranging history and demonstrate with new clarity how contingent the slaves' pursuit of freedom was on the rhythms and culture of military life. Taylor brings new insight into the enormous risks taken by formerly enslaved people to find freedom in the midst of the nation's most destructive war.

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About the Author:

Amy Murrell Taylor is associate professor of history at the University of Kentucky and author of The Divided Family in Civil War America.

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An Evening with Robert Crease
Apr
4
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Robert Crease

A fascinating look at key thinkers throughout history who have shaped public perception of science and the role of authority.

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This April, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome philosopher and science historian Robert Crease to Harrisburg as he presents his new book, The Workshop and the World: What Ten Thinkers Can Teach Us About Science and Authority. Book signing to follow discussion. This event is free and open to the public.

About the Book:

When does a scientific discovery become accepted fact? Why have scientific facts become easy to deny? And what can we do about it? In The Workshop and the World, philosopher and science historian Robert P. Crease answers these questions by describing the origins of our scientific infrastructure―the “workshop”―and the role of ten of the world’s greatest thinkers in shaping it. At a time when the Catholic Church assumed total authority, Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, and René Descartes were the first to articulate the worldly authority of science, while writers such as Mary Shelley and Auguste Comte told cautionary tales of divorcing science from the humanities. The provocative leaders and thinkers Kemal Atatürk and Hannah Arendt addressed the relationship between the scientific community and the public in in times of deep distrust.

As today’s politicians and government officials increasingly accuse scientists of dishonesty, conspiracy, and even hoaxes, engaged citizens can’t help but wonder how we got to this level of distrust and how we can emerge from it. This book tells dramatic stories of individuals who confronted fierce opposition―and sometimes risked their lives―in describing the proper authority of science, and it examines how ignorance and misuse of science constitute the preeminent threat to human life and culture. An essential, timely exploration of what it means to practice science for the common good as well as the danger of political action divorced from science, The Workshop and the World helps us understand both the origins of our current moment of great anti-science rhetoric and what we can do to help keep the modern world from falling apart.

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About the Author:

Robert P. Crease is the chairman of the philosophy department at Stony Brook University and the author of several books on science, including The Quantum Moment and The Great Equations. He lives in New York City.

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An Evening with Richard Rothstein
Mar
27
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Richard Rothstein

The Midtown Scholar is thrilled to welcome Richard Rothstein to our stage to discuss his book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. A book signing will follow discussion. This event is free and open to the public.

About the Book

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One of Publishers Weekly's 10 Best Books of 2017
Longlisted for the National Book Award

This “powerful and disturbing history” exposes how American governments deliberately imposed racial segregation on metropolitan areas nationwide (New York Times Book Review).

In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation―that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation―the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments―that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day.

Through extraordinary revelations and extensive research that Ta-Nehisi Coates has lauded as "brilliant" (The Atlantic), Rothstein comes to chronicle nothing less than an untold story that begins in the 1920s, showing how this process of de jure segregation began with explicit racial zoning, as millions of African Americans moved in a great historical migration from the south to the north.

As Jane Jacobs established in her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, it was the deeply flawed urban planning of the 1950s that created many of the impoverished neighborhoods we know. Now, Rothstein expands our understanding of this history, showing how government policies led to the creation of officially segregated public housing and the demolition of previously integrated neighborhoods. While urban areas rapidly deteriorated, the great American suburbanization of the post–World War II years was spurred on by federal subsidies for builders on the condition that no homes be sold to African Americans. Finally, Rothstein shows how police and prosecutors brutally upheld these standards by supporting violent resistance to black families in white neighborhoods.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited future discrimination but did nothing to reverse residential patterns that had become deeply embedded. Yet recent outbursts of violence in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, and Minneapolis show us precisely how the legacy of these earlier eras contributes to persistent racial unrest. “The American landscape will never look the same to readers of this important book” (Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund), as Rothstein’s invaluable examination shows that only by relearning this history can we finally pave the way for the nation to remedy its unconstitutional past.

About the Author

Richard Rothstein is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and a Fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He lives in California, where he is a Fellow of the Haas Institute at the University of California–Berkeley.

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An Evening with Linda Kay Klein
Mar
26
7:00 PM19:00

An Evening with Linda Kay Klein

From a woman who has been there and back, the first inside look at the devastating effects evangelical Christianity’s purity culture has had on a generation of young women—in a potent combination of journalism, cultural commentary, and memoir.

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This March, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome Linda Kay Klein to Harrisburg as she presents her new book, Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free. This event is free and open to the public.

About the Book:

From a woman who has been there and back, the first inside look at the devastating effects evangelical Christianity’s purity culture has had on a generation of young women—in a potent combination of journalism, cultural commentary, and memoir.

In the 1990s, a “purity industry” emerged out of the white evangelical Christian culture. Purity rings, purity pledges, and purity balls came with a dangerous message: girls are potential sexual “stumbling blocks” for boys and men, and any expression of a girl’s sexuality could reflect the corruption of her character. This message traumatized many girls—resulting in anxiety, fear, and experiences that mimicked the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder—and trapped them in a cycle of shame.

This is the sex education Linda Kay Klein grew up with.

Fearing being marked a Jezebel, Klein broke up with her high school boyfriend because she thought God told her to, and took pregnancy tests though she was a virgin, terrified that any sexual activity would be punished with an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. When the youth pastor of her church was convicted of sexual enticement of a twelve-year-old girl, Klein began to question the purity-based sexual ethic. She contacted young women she knew, asking if they were coping with the same shame-induced issues she was. These intimate conversations developed into a twelve-year quest that took her across the country and into the lives of women raised in similar religious communities—a journey that facilitated her own healing and led her to churches that are seeking a new way to reconcile sexuality and spirituality.

Sexual shame is by no means confined to evangelical culture; Pure is a powerful wake-up call about our society’s subjugation of women.

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About the Author::

Linda Kay Klein has spent her career working at the cross section of faith, gender, sexuality, and social change. She is the founder of Break Free Together. A Midwesterner at heart, she now lives in New York City with her family.

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Shawan Rice in Concert
Mar
23
7:00 PM19:00

Shawan Rice in Concert

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome Shawan Rice back to Harrisburg for a special performance!

Soul Songstress, Shawan Rice, invites the crowd into her world with her poetic lyrics and haunting melodies. Drawing inspiration from her Life experiences ranging from; Love, Loss, Grief and acceptance, concertgoers easily connect to her sound and story. The vulnerable and transparent nature of her approach to music leaves the listener with an experience like no other.

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An Evening with Adam Rutherford
Mar
23
5:00 PM17:00

An Evening with Adam Rutherford

The bestselling author of A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived investigates what it means to be human—and animal.

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This March, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome Dr. Adam Rutherford to Harrisburg as he presents his new book, Humanimal: How Homo sapiens Became Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature. This event is free and open to the public.

About the Book:

Evolutionary theory has long established that humans are animals: Modern Homo sapiens are primates who share an ancestor with monkeys and other great apes. Our genome is 98 percent identical to a chimpanzee’s. And yet we think of ourselves as exceptional. Are we?

In this original and entertaining tour of life on Earth, Adam Rutherford explores the profound paradox of the “human animal.” Looking for answers across the animal kingdom, he finds that many things once considered exclusively human are not: In Australia, raptors have been observed starting fires to scatter prey; in Zambia, a chimp named Julie even started a “fashion” of wearing grass in one ear. We aren’t the only species that communicates, makes tools, or has sex for reasons other than procreation. But we have developed a culture far more complex than any other we’ve observed. Why has that happened, and what does it say about us?

Humanimal is a new evolutionary history—a synthesis of the latest research on genetics, sex, migration, and much more. It reveals what unequivocally makes us animals—and also why we are truly extraordinary.

About the Author:

Adam Rutherford, PhD, is a science writer and broadcaster. He studied genetics at University College London, and during his PhD on the developing eye, he was part of a team that identified the first known genetic cause of a form of childhood blindness. His previous books are A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived—finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction—and Creation, which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize. He writes and presents BBC’s flagship weekly Radio 4 program Inside Science; The Cell for BBC Four; and Playing God (on the rise of synthetic biology) for the leading science series Horizon; in addition to writing for the Guardian.

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An Evening with Sarah St. Vincent and Kimi Grant
Mar
16
5:00 PM17:00

An Evening with Sarah St. Vincent and Kimi Grant

Steeped in the rugged beauty of the Pennsylvania mountains, Sarah St. Vincent and Kimi Grant's new novels take on love, betrayal, loyalty, and redemption.

This March, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome novelists Sarah St. Vincent and Kimi Grant to Harrisburg for a reading and conversation on their new novels, Ways to Hide in Winter and Fallen Mountains. This event is free and open to the public. Book signing to follow discussion.

About Ways to Hide in Winter:

In the wintery silences of Pennsylvania’s Blue Ridge Mountains, a woman befriends a mysterious foreigner—setting in motion this suspenseful, atmospheric, politically charged debut

After surviving a life-altering accident at twenty-two, Kathleen recuperates by retreating to a remote campground lodge in a state park, where she works flipping burgers for deer hunters and hikers—happy, she insists, to be left alone.

But when a hesitant, heavily accented stranger appears in the dead of winter—seemingly out of nowhere, kicking snow from his flimsy dress shoes—the wary Kathleen is intrigued, despite herself. He says he’s a student from Uzbekistan. To her he seems shell-shocked, clearly hiding from something that terrifies him. And as she becomes absorbed in his secrets, she’s forced to confront her own—even as her awareness of being in danger grows . . .

Steeped in the rugged beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with America’s war on terror raging in the background, Sarah St.Vincent’s Ways to Hide in Winter is a powerful story about violence and redemption, betrayal and empathy . . . and how we reconcile the unforgivable in those we love.

About Fallen Mountains:

When Transom Shultz goes missing shortly after returning to his tightly knit hometown of Fallen Mountains, Pennsylvania, his secrets are not the only ones that threaten to emerge.

Something terrible happened seventeen years ago. Red, the sheriff, is haunted by it. Possum, the victim of that crime, wants revenge. Chase, a former friend of Transom’s, is devastated by his treacherous land dealings. And Laney worries her one thoughtless mistake with Transom could shatter everything she’s built.

As the search for Transom heats up and the inhabitants’ dark and tangled histories unfold, each must decide whether to live under the brutal weight of the past or try to move beyond it. In Fallen Mountains, even loyalty, love, trust, and family can trap you on a path of tragedy.

About Sarah St. Vincent:

Sarah St.Vincent grew up in rural Pennsylvania and attended Swarthmore College, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan Law School. As a human rights attorney, she has advocated for survivors of domestic violence and currently researches national security and surveillance for Human Rights Watch. She lives in New York City.

About Kimi Grant:

Kimi Cunningham Grant is the author of a memoir, Silver Like Dust (Pegasus 2012.) She is a two-time winner of a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Prize in Poetry, as well as a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship finalist. She’s also a recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship in creative nonfiction. Her essays and poems have appeared in RATTLE, Poet Lore, Tar River Poetry, Apalachee Review, Grasslimb, Whitefish Review, and The Tribe magazine. She studied English at Bucknell University, Messiah College, and Oxford University. You can find her at kimicunninghamgrant.com.

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Mar
16
10:00 AM10:00

Drag Storytime at the Scholar!

This March, join us for Drag Storytime at the Scholar: Under the Big Top! Hosted by Miss Anita and Betty Whitecastle, we'll be reading from "If I Ran from the Circus" by Dr. Seuss and "The Circus Thief" by Alane Adams.

Special guests include Lizzie Beaumont! Donations will be accepted for Pridefest of Central Pennsylvania.

Come out and enjoy the magic of the Circus!

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Mar
15
7:00 PM19:00

Third in the Burg with S.R. Frost

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome singer-songwriter S.R. Frost to Harrisburg for March’s Third in the Burg! This event is free and open to the public.

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S.R. Frost is a Philly-based singer-songwriter. His debut album, Shrine, is a blend indie-pop and psychedelia performed entirely by S.R. on a cherished tape machine. He recently teamed up with Cheerleader’s Josh Pannepacker to produce a follow-up EP due March 2019. You can find him playing solo or with friends.

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