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Best of the Fest 2022: History & Biography

Upper-body image of man speaking on stage with a "National Book Festival" image behind him

Clint Smith speaks about his book, “How the Word Is Passed,” with moderator Frederick Wherry on the History and Biography Stage at the 2022 National Book Festival, Sept. 3. Photo by Kimberly Powell

The History & Biography Stage at the Library of Congress National Book Festival, sponsored by the James Madison Council,  has a long tradition of being one of the Festival’s most popular stages. We’re happy to release the footage from that stage today on our site and our YouTube channel. Here’s what you’ll find among the rich conversations that took place on the History & Biography Stage at the recent Festival:

  • We kicked the day off with two-time Pulitzer winner David Maraniss, whose new biography, “Jim Thorpe: Path Lit by Lightning,” has received rave reviews. He’s in conversation with Kevin Gover, the Under Secretary for Museums and Culture at the Smithsonian.
  • Biographers Tomiko Brown-Nagin and Kate Clifford Larson in conversation with NPR’s Neda Ulaby about two women leaders of the civil rights movement, Constance Baker Motley and Fannie Lou Hamer.
  • Jack E. Davis tackled the entire history of the Gulf of Mexico for his previous book, “The Gulf,” which won the Pulitzer and the Kirkus Prize. He talked about his new book, “The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird,” with Festival co-chairman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein.
  • In a special partnership this year, the Library of Congress and DC Public Library collaborated to host Clint Smith, the multiple award-winning author of “How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America.” He’s in conversation with Frederick Wherry, the inaugural vice-dean for diversity and inclusion at Princeton University.
  • Candice Millard revealed the strange, odd history of the hunt for the source of the Nile as she talked about her latest work of history, “River of the Gods,” with David Rubenstein.
  • Journalist and historian Howard W. French explained to the Festival crowds why Africa is really at the center of so many crucial moments in history that we think of as “Western” achievements as he talked with Lanisa Kitchener, the Library’s head of the African and Middle Eastern Division.
  • Kelly Lytle Hernández has been called a “rebel historian” for her ability to entirely reorient our understanding of historical moments. She talked about her latest book, “Bad Mexicans,” about the Mexican Revolution, with journalist Rafael Ulloa.
  • Danyel Smith has been a celebrated music journalist whose latest book, “Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop,” intrigued NPR podcaster Sidney Madden, who interviewed Smith about the book during their Festival session.

We hope you enjoy the events from this year’s History & Biography Stage!

Two women seated in chairs on stage, one holding up a book entittled "Shine Right," in front of a National Book Festival backdrop

Danyel Smith discusses Black women in pop with Sidney Madden on the History and Biography Stage at the 2022 National Book Festival, Sept. 3. Photo by Kimberly Powell

2 Comments

  1. Beth Meyer
    October 14, 2022 at 10:15 am

    Can you send me the Margaret Wise Brown talk>

    • Clay Smith
      October 20, 2022 at 10:08 am

      Thanks for your comment. Presentations from the 2022 National Book Festival will be rolling out by stage over the next few weeks, including Margaret Wise Brown’s talk from the Please Read Me a Story stage. Subscribe to the blog for email notifications.

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