{ subscribe_url:'/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/national-book-festival.php' }

2020 National Book Festival Highlights: Heather Cox Richardson

Welcome to our ongoing celebration of the 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival! If you love storytelling or are simply curious about the world, you’ve landed in the right place. As a way into this vast — and vastly fascinating — festival celebrating “American Ingenuity,” we offer here a string of highlights that truly illustrate the resilience, intelligence and wit of this year’s authors. Please enjoy, and make sure to explore our full National Book Festival video collection and special limited-time content on the Virtual Festival Platform.

The following post was written by Guy Lamolinara, communications officer in Literary Initiatives.

We all know the North won the Civil War. The treaty with the South that was signed at Appomattox says so, right?

But did the North really win? Heather Cox Richardson, in her provocative new book, “How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America” (Oxford University), argues that democracy’s blood-soaked victory was ephemeral. The system of racial dominance that had sustained the South soon moved west and established a foothold. Settlers proceeded to seize Mexican land and oppress Native Americans, cementing racial hierarchies.

In this video recorded exclusively for the National Book Festival, Richardson emphasizes this point:

“American democracy has within it a fundamental contradiction, and that is the founders came up with the idea that all men are created equal, [yet they] in fact owned other human beings. They enslaved Africans. They enslaved Indigenous people. They considered women a lesser being altogether. So inherent within the concept of American equality is American inequality. And that contradiction, that paradox has driven our politics ever since.”

You can hear more from Richardson and from many other eminent historians, such as Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Jon Meacham and Eric Foner, on the Virtual Festival Platform (Go to “Stages” tab and select “History & Biography.” Click on “Sessions” and select an author).

Richardson and other select authors also recorded Q&A sessions with their fans. These are  available from the platform by clicking on an author’s name.

The National Book Festival would not be possible without the support of its generous sponsors. Longtime festival sponsor Wells Fargo sponsored the History & Biography stage. If you go to the “Partner Activities” tab and enter the Wells Fargo “booth” you can see author Veronica Chambers in a video celebrating reading, education and the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in America. Chambers gives us an inside look at her book “Finish the Fight! The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote.” Written with the staff of the New York Times, Chambers shares the lesser-known stories of diverse heroines who fought for the 19th amendment. You can also download several fun and educational “handouts.”

Videos from more than 120 fascinating authors are available on the festival’s various stages, such as Children’s, Teens, Fiction, Genre Fiction, Poetry & Prose and Understanding Our World. There is something for every age and interest.

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival celebrated 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.

One Comment

  1. Alan Anisgard
    November 25, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    couldn’t agree more….

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.