April 25, 7 pm: J. L Bell, “The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War”

road-to-concordIn the early spring of 1775, on a farm in Concord, Massachusetts, British army spies located four brass cannon belonging to Boston’s colonial militia that had gone missing months before. British general Thomas Gage had been searching for them, both to stymie New England’s growing rebellion and to erase the embarrassment of having let cannon disappear from armories under redcoat guard. Anxious to regain those weapons, he drew up plans for his troops to march nineteen miles into unfriendly territory. The Massachusetts Patriots, meanwhile, prepared to thwart the general’s mission. There was one goal Gage and his enemies shared: for different reasons, they all wanted to keep the stolen cannon as secret as possible. Both sides succeeded well enough that the full story has never appeared until now.
The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War by historian J. L. Bell reveals a new dimension to the start of America’s War for Independence by tracing the spark of its first battle back to little-known events beginning in September 1774. The author relates how radical Patriots secured those four cannon and smuggled them out of Boston, and how Gage sent out spies and search parties to track them down. Drawing on archives in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, the book creates a lively, original, and deeply documented picture of a society perched on the brink of war.
RocklandTrust logoOur April lectures are sponsored by Rockland Trust

April 27, 7 pm: Larrie Ferriero, “Brothers at Arms: American Independence and the Men of France & Spain Who Saved It”

brothers-at-armsIn this groundbreaking, revisionist history, Larrie Ferreiro shows that at the time the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord the colonists had little chance, if any, of militarily defeating the British. The nascent American nation had no navy, little in the way of artillery, and a militia bereft even of gunpowder. In his detailed accounts Ferreiro shows that without the extensive military and financial support of the French and Spanish, the American cause would never have succeeded. France and Spain provided close to the equivalent of $30 billion and 90 percent of all guns used by the Americans, and they sent soldiers and sailors by the thousands to fight and die alongside the Americans, as well as around the world.

Ferreiro adds to the historical records the names of French and Spanish diplomats, merchants, soldiers, and sailors whose contribution is at last given recognition. Instead of viewing the American Revolution in isolation, Brothers at Arms reveals the birth of the American nation as the centerpiece of an international coalition fighting against a common enemy.

RocklandTrust logoOur April lectures are sponsored by Rockland Trust

May 2, 7 pm: Douglas Smith, “Rasputin: Faith, Power and the Twilight of the Romanovs”

rasputinA hundred years after his murder, Rasputin continues to excite the popular imagination as the personification of evil. Numerous biographies, novels, and films recount his mysterious rise to power as Nicholas and Alexandra’s confidant and the guardian of the sickly heir to the Russian throne. His debauchery and sinister political influence are the stuff of legend, and the downfall of the Romanov dynasty was laid at his feet.

But as the prizewinning historian Douglas Smith shows, the true story of Rasputin’s life and death has remained shrouded in myth. A major new work that combines probing scholarship and powerful storytelling, Rasputin separates fact from fiction to reveal the real life of one of history’s most alluring figures. Drawing on a wealth of forgotten documents from archives in seven countries, Smith presents Rasputin in all his complexity–man of God, voice of peace, loyal subject, adulterer, drunkard. Rasputin is not just a definitive biography of an extraordinary and legendary man but a fascinating portrait of the twilight of imperial Russia as it lurched toward catastrophe.

RocklandTrust logoThis lecture sponsored by Rockland Trust

 

 

 

 

 

May 24, 7 pm: James B. Conroy, “Lincoln’s White House: The People’s House in Wartime”

lincolns-white-houseLincoln’s White House is the first book devoted to capturing the look, feel, and smell of the executive mansion from Lincoln’s inauguration in 1861 to his assassination in 1865. James Conroy brings to life the people who knew it, from servants to cabinet secretaries. We see the constant stream of visitors, from ordinary citizens to visiting dignitaries and diplomats. Conroy enables the reader to see how the Lincolns lived and how the administration conducted day-to-day business during four of the most tumultuous years in American history. Relying on fresh research and a character-driven narrative and drawing on untapped primary sources, he takes the reader on a behind-the-scenes tour that provides new insight into how Lincoln lived, led the government, conducted war, and ultimately, unified the country to build a better government of, by, and for the people.

Our May lectures are sponsored by Cape Cod Five Savings Bank

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June 7, 7 pm: Michael Klarman, “The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the American Constitution”

framers-coupBoth the Constitution’s content and its ratification process raise troubling questions about democratic legitimacy. The Federalists were eager to avoid full-fledged democratic deliberation over the Constitution, and the document that was ratified was stacked in favor of their preferences. And in terms of substance, the Constitution was a significant departure from the more democratic state constitutions of the 1770s. Definitive and authoritative, The Framers’ Coup explains why the Framers preferred such a constitution and how they managed to persuade the country to adopt it. We have lived with the consequences, both positive and negative, ever since.
The Framers’ Coup is more than a compendium of great stories, however, and the powerful arguments that feature throughout will reshape our understanding of the nation’s founding. Simply put, the Constitutional Convention almost didn’t happen, and once it happened, it almost failed. And, even after the convention succeeded, the Constitution it produced almost failed to be ratified. Just as importantly, the Constitution was hardly the product of philosophical reflections by brilliant, disinterested statesmen, but rather ordinary interest group politics. Multiple conflicting interests had a say, from creditors and debtors to city dwellers and backwoodsmen. The upper class overwhelmingly supported the Constitution; many working class colonists were more dubious. Slave states and nonslave states had different perspectives on how well the Constitution served their interests.

Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod logoOur June lectures are sponsored by the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod

 

 

 

June 10, 2 pm: Stephen Kinzer, “The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and the Birth of American Empire”

True FlagHow should the United States act in the world? Americans cannot decide. Sometimes we burn with righteous anger, launching foreign wars and deposing governments. Then we retreat―until the cycle begins again.

No matter how often we debate this question, none of what we say is original. Every argument is a pale shadow of the first and greatest debate, which erupted more than a century ago. Its themes resurface every time Americans argue whether to intervene in a foreign country.

Revealing a piece of forgotten history, Stephen Kinzer transports us to the dawn of the twentieth century, when the United States first found itself with the chance to dominate faraway lands. That prospect thrilled some Americans. It horrified others. Their debate gripped the nation.

The country’s best-known political and intellectual leaders took sides. Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and William Randolph Hearst pushed for imperial expansion; Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, and Andrew Carnegie preached restraint. Only once before―in the period when the United States was founded―have so many brilliant Americans so eloquently debated a question so fraught with meaning for all humanity.

All Americans, regardless of political perspective, can take inspiration from the titans who faced off in this epic confrontation. Their words are amazingly current. Every argument over America’s role in the world grows from this one. It all starts here.

Our March lectures are sponsored by First Citizens Federal Credit UnionFirst Citizens

June 14, 7 pm: Nigel Hamilton, “Commander in Chief: FDR’s Battle with Churchill”

commander-in-chiefNigel Hamilton’s Mantle of Command, long-listed for the National Book Award, drew on years of archival research and interviews to portray FDR in a tight close up, as he determined Allied strategy in the crucial initial phases of World War II. Commander in Chief reveals the astonishing sequel — suppressed by Winston Churchill in his memoirs — of Roosevelt’s battles with Churchill to maintain that strategy.  Roosevelt knew that the Allies should take Sicily but avoid a wider battle in southern Europe, building experience but saving strength to invade France in early 1944. Churchill seemed to agree at Casablanca — only to undermine his own generals and the Allied command, testing Roosevelt’s patience to the limit. Churchill was afraid of the invasion planned for Normandy, and pushed instead for disastrous fighting in Italy, thereby almost losing the war for the Allies. In a dramatic showdown, FDR finally set the ultimate course for victory by making the ultimate threat. Commander in Chief shows FDR in top form at a crucial time in the modern history of the West.

Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod logoOur June lectures are sponsored by the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod

Thursday, June 15, 7 pm: Larry Loftis, “In the Lion’s Mouth: The True Story of Dusko Popov”

PopovJames Bond has nothing on British double agent Dusko Popov.  As an operative for the Abwehr, SD, MI5, MI6, and FBI during World War II, Popov seduced countless women―including agents on both sides―spoke five languages, and was a crack shot, all while maintaining his cover as a Yugoslav diplomat...

On a cool August evening in 1941, a Serbian playboy created a stir at Casino Estoril in Portugal by throwing down an outrageously large baccarat bet to humiliate his opponent. The Serbian was a British double agent, and the money―which he had just stolen from the Germans―belonged to the British. From the sideline, watching with intent interest was none other than Ian Fleming…The Serbian was Dusko Popov. As a youngster, he was expelled from his London prep school. Years later he would be arrested and banished from Germany for making derogatory statements about the Third Reich. When World War II ensued, the playboy became a spy, eventually serving three dangerous masters: the Abwehr, MI5 and MI6, and the FBI.
On August 10, 1941, the Germans sent Popov to the United States to construct a spy network and gather information on Pearl Harbor. The FBI ignored his German questionnaire, but J. Edgar Hoover succeeded in blowing his cover. While MI5 desperately needed Popov to deceive the Abwehr about the D-Day invasion, they assured him that a return to the German Secret Service Headquarters in Lisbon would result in torture and execution. He went anyway…
Into the Lion’s Mouth is a globe-trotting account of a man’s entanglement with espionage, murder, assassins, and lovers―including enemy spies and a Hollywood starlet. It is a story of subterfuge and seduction, patriotism, and cold-blooded courage. It is the story of Dusko Popov―the inspiration for James Bond.

Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod logoOur June lectures are sponsored by the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod

June 22, 7 pm: Robert Strauss, “Worst. President. Ever”

worst-president-everWorst. President. Ever. flips the great presidential biography on its head, offering an enlightening—and highly entertaining!—account of poor James Buchanan’s presidency to prove once and for all that, well, few leaders could have done worse.

But author Robert Strauss does much more, leading readers out of Buchanan’s terrible term in office—meddling in the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision, exacerbating the Panic of 1857, helping foment the John Brown uprisings and “Bloody Kansas,” virtually inviting a half-dozen states to secede from the Union as a lame duck, and on and on—to explore with insight and humor his own obsession with presidents, and ultimately the entire notion of ranking our presidents. He guides us through the POTUS rating game of historians and others who have made their own Mount Rushmores—or Marianas Trenches!—of presidential achievement, showing why Buchanan easily loses to any of the others, but also offering insights into presidential history buffs like himself, the forgotten “lesser” presidential sites, sex and the presidency, the presidency itself, and how and why it can often take the best measures out of even the most dedicated men.

Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod logoOur June lectures are sponsored by the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod

June 27, 7 pm: Michael Tougias, combo program: “The Finest Hours” and “So Close to Home”

michael-tougiasNY Times bestselling Author Michael Tougias will appear at the Falmouth Museums on the Green on Tuesday, June 27 at 7 pm. . He will give a two part multi-media presentation.  The first part covers his new book So Close To Home: A True Story of an American Family’s Fight for Survival During WWII.  The second part of the program features his bestseller The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue.  The Disney Corporation has made a movie based on the book, starring Chris Pine and Casey Affleck.  The program is suitable for all ages.

michael-tougias-2 For The Finest Hours, Tougias will use slides of the storm, the sinking oil tankers, the rescues, the victims, the survivors and the heroes to tell the story of this historic event which took place in February of 1952.  He will describe the harrowing attempts to rescue the seamen, especially focusing on four young Coast Guardsmen who must overcome insurmountable odds to save the lives of 32 crewmen stranded aboard the stern of the Pendleton. Standing between the men and their mission were towering waves that reached 70 feet, blinding snow, and one of the most dangerous shoals in the world, the dreaded Chatham Bar. The waters along the outer arm of Cape Cod are called “the graveyard of the Atlantic” for good reason, yet this rescue defies all odds.

Tougias says, “This event was–and still is– the greatest and most daring sea rescue ever performed by the Coast Guard, and it happened right here off the New England coast.  I felt this episode of heroism and tragedy needed to be told in its entirety because it’s an important piece of overlooked history.

   For So Close To Home, Tougias will also tell the story through a series of slides.  Thismichael-tougias-1 event happened in the Gulf of Mexico in 1942 when a Uboat sank a ship carrying the Downs family.  Tougias describes the family’s incredible fight for survival adrift at sea, but also includes the story of the daring Uboat commander who patrolled the Gulf, even going into the mouth of the Mississippi River. A book signing will follow the program.

            “I enjoy doing these programs,” says Tougias, “because I like to transport the audience into the heart of the storm so that they ask themselves ‘what would I have done.’  I don’t like to do author readings because I think they are boring, but with a slide presentation, the viewer can visually relive the adventure.”

Michael Tougias is the author and coauthor of 24 books including Fatal Forecast: An Incredible True Tale of Disaster and Survival at Sea, which the Los Angeles Times called “breathtaking…a marvelous and terrifying tale.” Tougias’ previous book Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do During the Blizzard of ‘78 received an Editor’s Choice Selection from the American Library Association which selected it as one of the top books of the year.

Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod logoOur June lectures are sponsored by the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod

June 29, 7 pm: Terry Ann Knopf, “The Golden Age of Boston Television”

Golden Age of Boston TelevisionThere are some two hundred TV markets in the country, but only one—Boston, Massachusetts—hosted a Golden Age of local programming. In this lively insider account, Terry Ann Knopf chronicles the development of Boston television, from its origins in the 1970s through its decline in the early 1990s. During TV’s heyday, not only was Boston the nation’s leader in locally produced news, programming, and public affairs, but it also became a model for other local stations around the country. It was a time of award-winning local newscasts, spirited talk shows, thought-provoking specials and documentaries, ambitious public service campaigns, and even originally produced TV films featuring Hollywood stars. Knopf also shows how this programming highlighted aspects of Boston’s own history over two turbulent decades, including the treatment of highly charged issues of race, sex, and gender—and the stations’ failure to challenge the Roman Catholic Church during its infamous sexual abuse scandal.

Laced with personal insights and anecdotes, The Golden Age of Boston Television offers an intimate look at how Boston’s television stations refracted the city’s culture in unique ways, while at the same time setting national standards for television creativity and excellence.

Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod logoOur June lectures are sponsored by the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod

July 7, 2 pm: Gioia Dimock, “Whaling in Massachusetts”

Massachusetts’ Whaling History in Vintage Photographs
whaling in massachusetts
The popular novel Moby-Dick first spurred young and old alike to romanticize the whaling industry. Author Herman Melville wrote his story based on the exploits of the Essex whaleship, and he documented his travels aboard the Acushnet, which departed from a Massachusetts whaling port. In the early 1700s, Massachusetts residents caught whales from the shore before embarking on offshore voyages for several weeks. Later, these trips would extend over many years, bringing home an average of 1,500 barrels of whale oil and thousands of pounds of whalebone in the 1800s. New Bedford and Nantucket were the founding towns for the whaling industry, but little known are the other Massachusetts towns that sent out whalers, built the ships, and outfitted them. Essex, Mattapoisett, and Falmouth were shipbuilding communities; Fairhaven began as a whaling town but quickly took to outfitting whalers; Gloucester made the yellow slickers that were rubbed with sperm whale oil to waterproof them; and Provincetown and Boston were among the many ports that sent out whaling ships.

Our July lectures sponsored by Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank

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July 12, 7 pm: Paul Staiti, “Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution Through Painters’ Eyes”

of-arms-and-artistsThe images accompanying the founding of the United States–of honored Founders, dramatic battle scenes, and seminal moments–gave visual shape to Revolutionary events and symbolized an entirely new concept of leadership and government. Since then they have endured as indispensable icons, serving as historical documents and timeless reminders of the nation’s unprecedented beginnings.

As Paul Staiti reveals in Of Arms and Artists, the lives of the five great American artists of the Revolutionary period–Charles Willson Peale, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, Benjamin West, and Gilbert Stuart–were every bit as eventful as those of the Founders with whom they continually interacted, and their works contributed mightily to America’s founding spirit. Living in a time of breathtaking change, each in his own way came to grips with the history being made by turning to brushes and canvases, the results often eliciting awe and praise, and sometimes scorn. Ever since the passing of the last eyewitnesses to the Revolution, their imagery has connected Americans to 1776, allowing us to interpret and reinterpret the nation’s beginning generation after generation. The collective stories of these five artists open a fresh window on the Revolutionary era, making more human the figures we have long honored as our Founders, and deepening our understanding of the whirlwind out of which the United States emerged.

Our July lectures sponsored by Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank

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August 2, 7 pm: Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, “The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell”

“The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets

 

spy-who-could-not-spellBefore Edward Snowden’s infamous data breach, the largest theft of government secrets was committed by an ingenious traitor whose intricate espionage scheme and complex system of coded messages were made even more baffling by his dyslexia. His name is Brian Regan, but he came to be known as The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell.

In December of 2000, FBI Special Agent Steven Carr of the bureau’s Washington, D.C., office received a package from FBI New York: a series of coded letters from an anonymous sender to the Libyan consulate, offering to sell classified United States intelligence. The offer, and the threat, were all too real. A self-proclaimed CIA analyst with top secret clearance had information about U.S. reconnaissance satellites, air defense systems, weapons depots, munitions factories, and underground bunkers throughout the Middle East. Rooting out the traitor would not be easy, but certain clues suggested a government agent with a military background, a family, and a dire need for money. Leading a diligent team of investigators and code breakers, Carr spent years hunting down a dangerous spy and his cache of stolen secrets.
In this fast-paced true-life spy thriller, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee reveals how the FBI unraveled Regan’s strange web of codes to build a case against a man who nearly collapsed America’s military security.

Our August lectures sponsored by Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank

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August 9, 4:00 pm: Martha Hall Kelly, “Lilac Girls”

kell_9781101883075_are_all_r1.inddNew York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

Our August lectures are sponsored by Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank

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August 12, 2 pm: Melinda Ponder, “Katharine Lee Bates: From Sea to Shining Sea”

Melinda PonderOn August 12, the birthday of Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929), poet of “America the Beautiful,” biographer Melinda M. Ponder will talk about her new book, Katharine Lee Bates: From Sea to Shining Sea.

 It tells the story of this brilliant trail-blazing woman—poet, teacher, community builder, and patriot—who challenged Americans to make their country the best it could become in its values and literature.

Drawing on extensive research in Bates family diaries, letters, and memoirs, this biography brings Katharine to life in her journeys from her childhood in Falmouth, where she felt she had been “rock’d in a clamshell,” to Wellesley College, Boston, Oxford, Spain and Egypt. Although her passion was poetry, Katharine’s three alluring suitors (two men and a woman) pulled her into major reform movements in a changing America. She was a dynamic woman with public triumphs, an anti-war activist poet during America’s tumultuous growth into a world power, who suffered personal heartaches as a single woman faced with choosing between marriage and a career. She refused to let an impoverished childhood in a Cape Cod village or the closed doors of the male-only bastions of the ministry, graduate schools, or the Yankee literary establishment prevent her from creating an inspiring life. This book is for those who love her song and those who root for the unlikely triumph of a complicated women “from sea to shining sea.”

Our August lectures sponsored by Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank

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August 16, 7 pm: Peter Cozzens, “The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West”

earth-is-weepingWith the end of the Civil War, the nation recommenced its expansion onto traditional Indian tribal lands, setting off a wide-ranging conflict that would last more than three decades. In an exploration of the wars and negotiations that destroyed tribal ways of life even as they made possible the emergence of the modern United States, Peter Cozzens gives us both sides in comprehensive and singularly intimate detail. He illuminates the encroachment experienced by the tribes and the tribal conflicts over whether to fight or make peace, and explores the squalid lives of soldiers posted to the frontier and the ethical quandaries faced by generals who often sympathized with their native enemies.

Our August lectures sponsored by Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank

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September 6, 7 pm: Leigh Montville, “Sting Like a Bee: Muhammad Ali vs. the United States of America, 1966-1971

Leigh MontvilleWith the death of Muhammad Ali in June, 2016, the media and America in general have remembered a hero, a heavyweight champion, an Olympic gold medalist, an icon, and a man who represents the sheer greatness of America. New York Times bestselling author Leigh Montville goes deeper, with a fascinating chronicle of a story that has been largely untold. Muhammad Ali, in the late 1960s, was young, successful, brash, and hugely admired—but with some reservations. He was bombastic and cocky in a way that captured the imagination of America, but also drew its detractors. He was a bold young African American in an era when few people were as outspoken. He renounced his name—Cassius Clay—as being his ‘slave name,’ and joined the Nation of Islam, renaming himself Muhammad Ali. And finally in 1966, after being drafted, he refused to join the military for religious and conscientious reasons, triggering a fight that was larger than any of his bouts in the ring. What followed was a period of legal battles, of cultural obsession, and in some ways of being the very embodiment of the civil rights movement located in the heart of one man. Muhammad Ali was the tip of the arrow, and Leigh Montville brilliantly assembles all the boxing, the charisma, the cultural and political shifting tides, and ultimately the enormous waft of entertainment that always surrounded Ali. Muhammed Ali vs. the United States of America is an important and incredibly engaging book.

Our September lectures are sponsored by Cape Cod Five Savings

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Sept. 13, 7 pm: Michael McNaught: “Britain’s Calvary: The Battle of the Somme, 1916”

The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was one of the largest battles of the First World War. Fought between July 1 and November 1, 1916 near the Somme River in France, it was also one of the bloodiest military battles in history. On the first day alone, the British suffered more than 57,000 casualties, and by the end of the campaign the Allies and Central Powers would lose more than 1.5 million men.

Battle-of-the-SommeThe Somme campaign in 1916 was the first great offensive of World War I for the British, and it produced a more critical British attitude toward the war. During and after the Somme, the British army started a real improvement in tactics. Also, the French attacked at the Somme and achieved greater advances on July 1 than the British did, with far fewer casualties. But it is the losses that are most remembered. The first day of the Somme offensive, July 1, 1916, resulted in 57,470 British casualties, greater than the total combined British casualties in the Crimean, Boer, and Korean wars. In contrast, the French, with fewer divisions, suffered only around 2,000 casualties. By the time the offensive ended in November, the British had suffered around 420,000 casualties, and the French about 200,000. German casualty numbers are controversial, but may be about 465,000.

Our September lectures are sponsored by Cape Cod Five Savings

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Wednesday, Sept. 20, 7 pm: Glenn Frankel, “High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of An American Classic”

High NoonIt’s one of the most revered movies of Hollywood’s golden era. Starring screen legend Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in her first significant film role, High Noon was shot on a lean budget over just thirty-two days but achieved instant box-office and critical success. It won four Academy Awards in 1953, including a best actor win for Cooper. And it became a cultural touchstone, often cited by politicians as a favorite film, celebrating moral fortitude.

Yet what has been often overlooked is that High Noon was made during the height of the Hollywood blacklist, a time of political inquisition and personal betrayal. In the middle of the film shoot, screenwriter Carl Foreman was forced to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about his former membership in the Communist Party. Refusing to name names, he was eventually blacklisted and fled the United States. (His co-authored screenplay for another classic, The Bridge on the River Kwai, went uncredited in 1957.) Examined in light of Foreman’s testimony, High Noon‘s emphasis on courage and loyalty takes on deeper meaning and importance.

In this book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel tells the story of the making of a great American Western, exploring how Carl Foreman’s concept of High Noon evolved from idea to first draft to final script, taking on allegorical weight. Both the classic film and its turbulent political times emerge newly illuminated

Our September lectures are sponsored by Cape Cod Five

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Thursday, September 28, 7 pm: Fred Morin & John Galluzzo, “A History of Massachusetts Aviation”

Explore the Bay State’s Aviation History

mass-aviationShortly after the Wright brothers took to the air, aviation fever gripped Massachusetts. The biggest names in the industry, including Wilbur Wright, Glenn Curtiss, and Claude Graham-White, among others, flew in for the first major air shows, further exciting the people of the Bay State about the potential of manned flight in the realms of military tactics, the expansion of commerce, and even personal transportation. By the 1920s, Massachusetts had become home to the first Naval Air Reserve Base, in Quincy; one of the first Coast Guard Air Stations, in Gloucester; and the Boston Airfield, which would become the largest international airport in New England. Within a few decades, individuals like Edward Lawrence Logan, Frank Otis, Oscar Westover, and Laurence G. Hanscomb would permanently leave their names on the Massachusetts landscape in connection with the airports and airfields still used today.

Our September lectures are sponsored by Cape Cod Five Savings 

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October 5, 7 pm: William J. Mann, “The War of the Roosevelts: The Ruthless Rise of America’s Greatest Political Family”

war-of-the-rooseveltsThe award-winning author presents a provocative, thoroughly modern revisionist biographical history of one of America’s greatest and most influential families—the Roosevelts—exposing heretofore unknown family secrets and detailing complex family rivalries with his signature cinematic flair.

Drawing on previously hidden historical documents and interviews with the long-silent “illegitimate” branch of the family, William J. Mann paints an elegant, meticulously researched, and groundbreaking group portrait of this legendary family. Mann argues that the Roosevelts’ rise to power and prestige was actually driven by a series of intense personal contest that at times devolved into blood sport. His compelling and eye-opening masterwork is the story of a family at war with itself, of social Darwinism at its most ruthless—in which the strong devoured the weak and repudiated the inconvenient.

Mann focuses on Eleanor Roosevelt, who, he argues, experienced this brutality firsthand, witnessing her Uncle Theodore cruelly destroy her father, Elliott—his brother and bitter rival—for political expediency. Mann presents a fascinating alternate picture of Eleanor, contending that this “worshipful niece” in fact bore a grudge against TR for the rest of her life, and dares to tell the truth about her intimate relationships without obfuscations, explanations, or labels.

Mann also brings into focus Eleanor’s cousins, TR’s children, whose stories propelled the family rivalry but have never before been fully chronicled, as well as her illegitimate half-brother, Elliott Roosevelt Mann, who inherited his family’s ambition and skill without their name and privilege. Growing up in poverty just miles from his wealthy relatives, Elliott Mann embodied the American Dream, rising to middle-class prosperity and enjoying one of the very few happy, long-term marriages in the Roosevelt saga. For the first time, The Wars of the Roosevelts also includes the stories of Elliott’s daughter and grandchildren, and never-before-seen photographs from their archives.

October 7, 2 pm: Noah Isenberg, “We’ll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend and Afterlife of America’s Most Beloved Movie”

CasablancaCasablanca was first released in 1942, just two weeks after the city of Casablanca itself surrendered to American troops led by General Patton. Featuring a pitch-perfect screenplay, a classic soundtrack, and unforgettable performances by Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and a deep supporting cast, Casablanca was hailed in the New York Times as “a picture that makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap.” The film won Oscars for best picture, best director, and best screenplay, and would go on to enjoy more revival screenings than any other movie in history. It became so firmly ensconced in the cultural imagination that, as Umberto Eco once said, Casablanca is “not one movie; it is ‘movies.’ ”

We’ll Always Have Casablanca is celebrated film historian Noah Isenberg’s rich account of this most beloved movie’s origins. Through extensive research and interviews with filmmakers, film critics, family members of the cast and crew, and diehard fans, Isenberg reveals the myths and realities behind Casablanca’s production, exploring the transformation of the unproduced stage play into the classic screenplay, the controversial casting decisions, the battles with Production Code censors, and the effect of the war’s progress on the movie’s reception. Isenberg particularly focuses on the central role refugees from Hitler’s Europe played in the production (nearly all of the actors and actresses cast in Casablanca were immigrants).

Finally, Isenberg turns to Casablanca’s long afterlife and the reasons it remains so revered. From the Marx Brothers’ 1946 spoof hit, A Night in Casablanca, to loving parodies in New Yorker cartoons, Saturday Night Live skits, and Simpsons episodes, Isenberg delves into the ways the movie has lodged itself in the American psyche.

Filled with fresh insights into Casablanca’s creation, production, and legacy, We’ll Always Have Casablanca is a magnificent account of what made the movie so popular and why it continues to dazzle audiences seventy-five years after its release.

Friday, November 10, 2 pm: Leonid Kondratiuk, “Massachusetts Goes to War: The 26th Yankee Division in World War One”

Yankee DivisionThe 26th “Yankee” Division, composed of units from the National Guards of the New England states, was the first full US Army division to arrive in France in 1917. Approximately, 15,000 Massachusetts men served in the 26th making it the largest unit the state sent to the war. Virtually, every town had men serving in the 26th. General Kondratiuk will speak about the Yankee Division’s role in World War I.

Special Performance: Anne Barrett as Victoria Yule, December 9, 2 pm

Travel back in time to Christmas 1895 with Victoria Yule as your hostess.

anne-barrettVictoria Yule will welcome you into her parlor, complete with an antique chair, table and props, and share her plans for the upcoming Christmas festivities. Learn the history of many Christmas traditions from stories passed down to her from “Grandmama and Grandpapa”. She’ll read Dickens, display toys and handmade gifts her family will be exchanging around the Christmas tree, and in her clear soprano, sing carols of the season. Travel back in time to Christmas 1895 with this fun, creative and engaging performance.