Wednesday August 10, 7 pm: Ian Toll, “The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944”

conquering tideThis masterful history encompasses the heart of the Pacific War―the period between mid-1942 and mid-1944―when parallel Allied counteroffensives north and south of the equator washed over Japan’s far-flung island empire like a “conquering tide,” concluding with Japan’s irreversible strategic defeat in the Marianas. It was the largest, bloodiest, most costly, most technically innovative and logistically complicated amphibious war in history, and it fostered bitter interservice rivalries, leaving wounds that even victory could not heal.Often overlooked, these are the years and fights that decided the Pacific War. Historian Ian W. Toll’s battle scenes―in the air, at sea, and in the jungles―are simply riveting. He also takes the reader into the wartime councils in Washington and Tokyo where politics and strategy often collided, and into the struggle to mobilize wartime production, which was the secret of Allied victory. Brilliantly researched, the narrative is propelled and colored by firsthand accounts―letters, diaries, debriefings, and memoirs―that are the raw material of the telling details, shrewd judgment, and penetrating insight of this magisterial history.

October 21, 7pm: M.T. Anderson: “Symphony for the City of the Dead”

  • Wednesday, October 21, 7pm: M.T. Anderson, “Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmiti Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad”

In September 1941, Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht surrounded Leningrad in what was to become one of the longest and most destructive sieges in Western history—almost three years of bombardment and starvation that culminated in the harsh winter of 1943–1944. More than a million citizens perished. Survivors recall corpses littering the frozen streets, their relatives having neither the means nor the strength to bury them. Residents burned books, furniture, and floorboards to keep warm; they ate family pets and—eventually—one another to stay alive. Trapped between the Nazi invading force and the Soviet government itself was composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who would write a symphony that roused, rallied, eulogized, and commemorated his fellow citizens—the Leningrad Symphony, which came to occupy a surprising place of prominence in the eventual Allied victory.This is the true story of a city under siege: the triumph of bravery and defiance in the face of terrifying odds. It is also a look at the power—and layered meaning—of music in beleaguered lives.