Update Sept 6, 2017 – C-SPAN 2 will air my presentation at the 2017 Library of Congress National Book Festival on Sunday, September 10, at 11:15 PM EDT, thus 8:15 PM PDT. Of the many events I have been privileged to do since American Ulysses was published on October 4, 2016, the National Book Festival on September 2 proved to be a highlight. More than 150,000 were in attendance for the one-day event at the Washington Convention Center. I was interviewed by Colleen Shogun of the Library of Congress. I was impressed by the questions and comments from the audience.
Original Post Sep 2, 2017 – I am looking forward to participating in today’s Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Started by First Lady Laura Bush to encourage reading, today’s 17th version on September 2 will attract authors from across the country, with an expectation of more than 150,000 people coming to this free event. The event is held at the Washington Convention Center.
I will be interviewed by Colleen Shogun of the Library of Congress from 1 to 1:45 on the History and Biography Stage. A book signing will follow from 2 to 3 p.m.
Last evening, September 1, authors and patrons were treated to an impressive event in the Coolidge Auditorium at the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. For me, the evening was something of a de ja vu. In March 2002, in the Coolidge Auditorium, I gave my first major address Abraham Lincoln after Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural had recently been published.
Yesterday evening, asked to speak to the theme “The American Story” were renowned authors Margot Lee Shetterly: Hidden Figures; Scott Turow: Innocent; Reshman Saujani: Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World; Diana Gabaldon: Seven Stones to Stand or Fall: A Collection of Outlander Fiction; and David McCullough: The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For.
All the presentations were outstanding. As a historian and biographer, I found myself particularly interested in McCullough’s remarks. An English major from Yale, he described himself as first a writer and then a historian.
My long time former editor at Random House, David Ebershoff, had a similar conversation with me several years ago. “Ron, I know you are a historian; but you are primarily a writer.” What he meant to convey is that readers, consciously or unconsciously, decide early on whether they can “trust” the writer. Is the writer able to tell a story that they can enter?
Writing is a craft. I am privileged today to be with authors in many fields who have honed that craft well.