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Back to the Future: More from the National Book Festival Presents Series

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On October 21 at 7 p.m. EDT, Danielle Allen and Walter Isaacson discuss the theme of the 20th National Book Festival, “American Ingenuity.”

Looking for something new to engage your mind as fall and winter set in? Then you won’t want to miss the new National Book Festival Presents series of programs. The series makes the annual book festival a year-round event.

First in the series is a conversation today, Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. Eastern between Walter Isaacson and Danielle Allen. Harvard University’s Allen is the 2020 recipient of the prestigious John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity from the Library of Congress, and historian and journalist Walter Isaacson is the acclaimed author of biographies of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and, most recently, Leonardo da Vinci. The two wax thoughtful and articulate on the theme of the 20th festival and what ingenuity means in today’s restive and divided America.

The remainder of the series is no less noteworthy (all programs begin at 7 p.m. Eastern time but will be accessible indefinitely thereafter). All programs will be available on the National Book Festival Presents site as well as the Library’s YouTube and Facebook pages:

  • Thursday, Oct. 29: Jon Meacham on his new book, “His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope,” in conversation with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 17:  Timely Topic: Two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, Anne Applebaum (“Twilight of Democracy”) and Carlos Lozada (“What Were We Thinking”), discuss the current American frame of mind, the tenuous state of democracy and the 2020 presidential election. Applebaum is a columnist for Atlantic magazine; Lozada is a critic with The Washington Post.
  • Thursday, Dec. 3: Behind the Book: Robert Gottlieb and Robert Caro, a Great American Editor and his author. Gottlieb is a former editor of The New Yorker and executive editor of the Knopf imprint at Random House. Caro is an acclaimed biographer, best known for his prize-winning books on Lyndon Johnson. With additional taped tributes for Gottlieb from Diane Rehm, Charles McGrath, Lynn Nesbit and Bill Clinton.
  • Thursday, Dec. 17: Behind the Book: Nan Talese and Margaret Atwood, a Great American Editor and her author. Nan Talese is senior vice president at Doubleday Publishing and editorial director of her own imprint. Atwood is the internationally lauded author of many books, including “The Handmaid’s Tale” and its recent sequel, “The Testaments.”

The 2020 National Book Festival opened the weekend of Sept. 25-27, with more than 120 extraordinary authors, poets and illustrators discussing their work. The theme of the 20th festival was American Ingenuity, and that was certainly exhibited in transforming the festival from one held at the Washington Convention Center to one held online. You can still access the festival, including interviews with many of the authors, at

You can also take a look back at the previous National Book Festival Presents series, which launched after last year’s book festival with actor, author and magician Neil Patrick Harris, followed by Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, novelist Edwidge Danticat, wildly popular children’s writer Dav Pilkey and many others. When COVID-19 hit, we pivoted to books about pandemics past, starting with “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Greatest Pandemic in History,” John Barry’s account of the 1918 Spanish flu. We also offered a timely series of book talks relating to the Black Lives Matter movement. If you missed any of the fascinating talks in the series, you can still access all of them.

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival celebrates its 20th birthday this year. You can get up-to-the-minute festival news, highlights, and other important information by subscribing to this blog. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You can support the festival, too, by making a gift now.