books

Andrew Malan Milward
I Was A Revolutionary (HarperCollins)

 

As a place and as an idea, Kansas has a rich, textured history, including everything from bloodthirsty abolitionists to the first woman elected to public office, Susanna Salter. And for every widely known story about America’s 34th state, another remains more or less forgotten.

Consider the legacy of Nicodemus, Kansas, an all-black homestead founded in the decades after the Civil War, or the annihilation of the People of the South Wind, the Kaw Nation, also known as the Kansa, who gave their name to the territory that settlers — often German, Irish, Polish, or Balkan immigrants in the process of becoming white — stole from them.

Much of the state’s secret past is like this: sad, contentious, bloody, and thought-provoking. Sometimes it’s downright weird. In other words, fertile ground for storytellers.

Andrew Malan Milward’s new collection, I Was a Revolutionary, grows complex narratives from these obscure and captivating historical fragments. His writing is quiet, beautiful, and harrowing, bringing life to people and places you thought you knew. It’s a book powered by the past, if not consumed by it.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill has battled through a political world dominated by men to get where she is today. She talks about that journey in her memoir, Plenty Ladylike.

Senator McCaskill will speak at 2 p.m. Sunday, August 16 at Unity Temple on the Plaza. For admission information, visit www.rainydaybooks.com.

Simon & Schuster

It's been a long, strange trip for U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill.   

From homecoming queen to state auditor to two-term U.S. senator in one of the most competitive states in the country, the journey has been an uphill battle. 

McCaskill talks about navigating a political world dominated by men in her memoir, Plenty Ladylike

Here's an excerpt from the book, in which she describes the challenges she faced as a female lawyer in the Missouri House of Representatives:

Plenty Ladylike, by Claire McCaskill with Terry Ganey

Not everyone can find joy in office supplies, but author James Ward has. In this edition of Up to Date, we talk about his book, The Perfection of the Paperclip: Curious Tales of Invention, Accidental Genius, and Stationery Obsession.

Guest:

  • James Ward, author of The Perfection of the Paperclip: Curious Tales of Invention, Accidental Genius, and Stationery Obsession

A book is often evaluated by the words it contains, but what value does a book with no words have? It turns out that wordless books can bolster creativity for both children and adults.

Guests:

If there's a sandwich of deli meat and processed cheese in your lunchbox, you might have the military to thank for it. On this edition of Up to Date, we talk about how convenience foods leaped from combat zones to your kitchen.

Guest:

  • Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, author of Combat-Ready Kitchen: How the Military Shapes the Way You Eat

Forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has helped solve many mysteries in real life, on the bookshelf and on the small screen. On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske spoke with the prolific author of the Temperance Brennan mystery novels and the inspiration for the TV series Bones.

Guest:

Beth Lipoff / KCUR

As a city ages, buildings and other structures can fall into disrepair and eventually end up abandoned and forgotten. 

In his book, Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences, photographer Matthew Christopher seeks out these places and tries to tell their stories through the lens of his camera.

Historian David McCullough tells Steve Kraske what four years of research revealed about brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright. Hear what role their sister Katharine played and the characteristics that made them successful in their quest to fly.   

Guest:

  • David McCullough is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of The Wright Brothers.

 On this edition of Up to Date we look at two approaches to being happy with what you do: finding a way to make your passion your work, or making better decisions in the job you have.

Guests:

Epic Summer

Jun 16, 2015

If summertime means being out of school, think again. Crestview Elementary is one of two schools in the metro experimenting with a year-long schedule. So we attempt to redefine summer, with great literature set amid sweltering summer heat and a roadtrip in search of a frozen dessert called "pineapple whip."

Guests:

The Best Books About Summer

Jun 15, 2015

Summer can be defined by so many things: weekends spent lounging at the lake, barbecues and fireworks on the Fourth of July, the all-night chirps of cicadas and quick bursts of light from fireflies. 

Feelings of summer nostalgia have inspired authors to write profound literature on the subject. On KCUR's Central Standard, Gina Kaufmann discussed the best books about summertime with our book critics Jeffrey Ann Goudie, Mark Luce and Kaite Stover. Below are their picks for best books about summer, along with some picks from KCUR staffers.

   Jeffrey Ann Goudie, freelance journalist and book critic: 

  • The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen
  • Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

Kaite Stover, readers' service representative, Kansas City Public Library

  • Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
  • Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp
  • The Long Secret by Louise Fitzhugh
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
  • Foolscap by Michael Malone (adult)
  • City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg (adult, coming October 2015)

Last month, NPR’s Morning Edition announced the second session of its book club. A few members of the Kansas City chapter share their opinions of the selected book, A God In Ruins.

Guests: 

There's a better way to prepare  your loved ones for your death. Local author Annie Presley sits down with Steve Kraske to discuss her workbook Read This... When I'm Dead: A Guide to Getting Your Stuff Together for Your Loved Ones.  They also look back on some of her more memorable moments as a political fundraiser. 

Guests:

George Hodgman is a writer and editor who's lived in New York and worked for places like Vanity Fair and Simon & Schuster.

After a childhood spent dreaming of New York and an adulthood caught up in the whirlwind of an intense career, he came home to Missouri to care for his ailing mother. Still, people from the small towns of his youth still think of him as the guy who went to New York.

So when he wrote a memoir, Bettyville, not about the glitzy social engagements in New York but about his childhood in Missouri, that meant something to people.

Just last week, he returned to Madison, Missouri — which had 554 residents as of the 2010 census — and gave a talk in a church basement. He regaled the town with stories about itself.

Dwight Eisenhower came into the presidency with a storied background as a U.S. Army general, but when he got into office, he did his best to keep the country out of wars.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we discuss how he used his strategic experience to keep the peace.

Guest:

Maz Jobrani has used his Iranian heritage to shape his comedy, and he laughs in the face of the stereotypes he sees of Middle Eastern people.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we talk with him about when he was asked to wear a turban on stage, what it's like to be a panelist on NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! and his Axis of Evil comedy tour.

Guest:

Author Jen Lancaster has learned never to take a Prada bag to the unemployment office or wear a fur coat to the animal shelter. She's lived like Martha Stewart and discovered that pie is not the answer.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, she joins Steve Kraske to discuss her origins as a blogger, how her projects become memoirs and her new book, I Regret Nothing.

Guest:

Flickr-CC

There’s a simple, inexpensive way parents can promote academic success in kids. Surround them with books.

Researcher Mariah Evans headed a 20-year, worldwide study that found “the presence of books in the home” to be the top predictor of whether a child will attain a high level of education.

More so even, than the education level of their parents. Those from highly educated and higher-income families however, may not feel the difference quite as significantly.

A well-known writer chooses a book — and we all read it. That's the premise of NPR's Morning Edition Book Club. 

C.J. Janovy

Kansas City author Christine Taylor-Butler is an advocate for more diversity in children’s and young adult literature. She has written more than 70 books, most of them for Scholastic, the massive publisher of books and educational materials for kids. Taylor-Butler spoke with me about her newest book,  The Lost Tribes, and how she quit her management job to be a full-time writer.

Little, Brown and Company

If we learned anything from the David and Goliath legend, it's that underdogs can win, right? On this edition of Up To Date, journalist, author and critical thinker Malcolm Gladwell speaks with Steve Kraske about the traditional understandings of the weak and the powerful. Plus, the advantages of thinking outside the box. 

University of California Press

KU professors wrote a lot of books about arts and culture last year.

They wrote about painters Georgia O'Keeffe and Albert Bloch, about composer Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked), film legends Douglas Fairbanks and Peter Weir. They wrote books of short stories and poetry. They wrote about heavier topics such as aging among minorities, transgender rights, African literature and environmental justice. One wrote a historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet foreign policy.

In all, faculty in the arts, humanities and social sciences wrote 32 books in 2014. On Tuesday afternoon, the Hall Center for the Humanities recognized them at its Annual Celebration of Books.

“We are a research university,” Hall Center Director Victor Bailey emphasized.

Bailey said he wished all of the faculty members whose books were for sale at the back of the room could speak, but instead he introduced three who would give short presentations, as if proxies for their research peers.

In May 1915, a German U-boat sunk one of the world's greatest ocean liners, the Lusitania. Erik Larson's new book, Dead Wake: the Last Crossing of the Lusitania, maps the tale known to many as the event that launched America into the Great War. On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Erik Larson about his research process, the captains behind the ships involved, and the mystery of Room 40.

Guest:

Clancy Martin On "Love And Lies"

Feb 10, 2015

For good or bad, we have all told lies and been lied to. On this edition of Up to Date, we talk with philosopher and author Clancy Martin about the impact of lies on love and how deceiving those we love can help preserve our most intimate relationships. 

Guest:

  • Clancy Martin is a professor of philosophy at UMKC and the author of Love and Lies: An Essay on Truthfulness, Deceit, and the Growth and Care of Erotic Love.
Cody Newill / KCUR

Los Angeles based performance and visual artist Tim Youd has taken up residence in Kansas City for the next three weeks to re-type two novels set in the city.

Youd is re-typing Evan Connell's novels "Mrs. Bridge" and "Mr. Bridge," two books that depict Kansas City's upper-middle class in the 1920s and 30s. The performance is part of a larger project where Youd visits a city and reproduces a book written or set there on just two pages of paper. 

Gayle Levy / courtesy of the author

In 2006, Whitney Terrell experienced the conflict in Iraq first-hand as an embedded reporter — and wrote about it for NPR, Slate, and The Washington Post. 

University of Missouri Press

  Any prominent public figure has private citizens supporting him or her without much recognition. The name Grenville Clark may not roll off your tongue, but the people he supported-- including both presidential Roosevelts-- changed the history of the United States.  

Guest:

  • Nancy Peterson Hill, author of A Very Private Public Citizen: The Life of Grenville Clark

  When it comes to personal technology in America, Google and Apple are locked in a battle of the titans for supremacy. We take a look at that fierce competition, and the risks each is willing to take, in their quest to be on top.

Guest:

  • Fred Vogelstein, author of Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution

HEAR MORE: Fred Vogelstein speaks at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Central branch of the Kansas City Public Library.

After spending his childhood in abject poverty, Dr. William Reed eventually climbed his way to director of Cardiac Surgery at KU Medical Center. In his new book, The Pulse of Hope: A Surgeon's Memoirs from Poverty to Prosperity, Reed reflects on his long journey.

HEAR MORE: Dr. Reed will speak Tuesday Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. at Unity Temple on the Plaza. For information on the event, click here.

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