Monday, March 25, 2013

2013 Virginia Festival of the Book: Christianity

Historian Robert Louis Wilken gave a presentation about his most recent book, The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity, at the 2013 Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville on March 22.

The book festival's web site offers this biographical note on Wilken:
Robert Wilken, author of The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the History of Christianity Emeritus. He taught at UVa from 1985 to 2009 and is the author of many books, including The Christians as the Romans Saw Them, The Land Called Holy: Palestine in Christian History and Thought, and The Spirit of Early Christian Thought. He is also the editor of The Church's Bible, a series of commentaries based on writings of the church fathers.
Speaking to a packed auditorium in the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections on the grounds of the University of Virginia, Wilken gave an engaging and entertaining lecture that spanned topics from apostolic succession to Christianity's intellectual confrontation with Islam to the necessity of bishops for the survival of the church (taking a dig at Garry Wills for asking "Why priests?" in a book of that name).

Wilken explained that he wanted the book to include a full range of the Christian communities from the first 1,000 years of the church, including the Syriac churches of the Middle East, the Greek churches that expanded into Slavic lands, and the Latin church based in Rome, with stops along the way among the Coptic churches of Egypt and Christian churches farther south in Nubia (Sudan) and Ethiopia. He said that he wanted to keep the chapters short for readability's sake and, for the same reason, decided not to include footnotes. The book, he noted, is meant for general audiences, not academic readers.

A video of Wilken's complete remarks, including a question-and-answer session with the audience, is here:
The program on "Christianity: The First Thousand Years" was hosted by the St. Anselm Institute for Catholic Thought, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, and the Center for Christian Study.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

2013 Virginia Festival of the Book: Eisenhower

Two veteran journalists-turned-biographers spoke at the Virginia Festival of the Book on Friday to talk about their recent books about President Dwight Eisenhower and his administration.

The book festival's web site offers background notes on the speakers for the panel entitled "Eisenhower: The Presidency." First, Evan Thomas, who
was a writer and editor at Time and Newsweek magazines for 33 years. There he wrote more than 100 cover stories and won a National Magazine award. He is the author of 8 books, including 2 New York Times best sellers. He teaches writing and journalism at Princeton University.
and also Jeffrey Frank, who
was a senior editor at the New Yorker, the deputy editor of the Washington Post's Outlook section, and is the author of four novels, including the Washington Trilogy
The moderator of the panel was journalist and author Earl Swift, whom I interviewed last year at the book festival about his history of the interstate highway system, The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways.

Evan Thomas discussed Ike's Bluff: Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World, which focuses largely on foreign policy but also addresses Eisenhower's personality -- warm on the outside, cold as steel on the inside -- and his way of working with other government officials.

Here is video of Thomas's opening remarks:

For his part, Jeffrey Frank discussed Ike & Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage, which looks into Eisenhower's relationship with his vice-president and eventual successor, Richard Nixon.

Here is the video of Frank talking about Ike & Dick:
The near-simultaneous publication of books about Ike by Evan Thomas and Jeffrey Frank suggests that Eisenhower's presidency is undergoing a historical reassessment, just as Calvin Coolidge's administration is getting a similar treatment.

The panel on Eisenhower's presidency took place on the upper level of the University of Virginia Bookstore, overlooking the bustling commerce on the ground floor.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

2013 Virginia Festival of the Book: Locavores

Two local authors spoke on March 21 at the Jefferson Madison Regional Library on the topic "Locavore: Hunting and Eating Locally."

Their discussion was part of the 19th Virginia Festival of the Book, which started Wednesday and ends Sunday.

The speakers were, according to the book festival's web site,
Pam Dawling, author of Sustainable Market Farming: Intensive Vegetable Production on a Few Acres, [who] also writes for Growing for Market magazine. For 20 years, she has grown vegetables at Twin Oaks Community in central Virginia, feeding a hundred people.
Jackson Landers, author of Eating Aliens and The Beginner's Guide to Hunting Deer for Food, [who] teaches hunting workshops across the U.S., has been featured in the Huffington Post and the New York Times, and is the subject of a documentary entitled Close to the Bone. He lives in Virginia.
The entire discussion was captured on video:
Dawling spoke first about gardening and growing vegetables in an economical, efficient, and sustainable fashion.

Landers followed, explaining how the "blood footprint" of hunting deer for food is smaller than the blood footprint of tofu, which, because it involves large-scale agriculture in the growing of soybeans, necessarily results in the deaths of many small animals -- something that vegans may want to think about the next time they fry up a tofuburger.

He also provided the audience with some entertaining stories of hunting pigeons in New York's Central Park and explained that all of the odd species he has killed and eaten "taste like chicken, beef, or pork."

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