Free Book Talks

BOOK TALKS are held on Sundays
at 1:30 p.m.

Please check back as we add our book talks for 2017 and beyond!

October 22
1:30 p.m.; Free
Join us for a free book talk with Larry Aaron on his book "The Wreck of the Old 97" at 1:30 p.m.
About the Book: With Fast Mail train No. 97 an hour behind schedule, locomotive engineer Steve Broady, according to legend, swore to "put her in Spencer on time" or "put her in Hell." Through eyewitness reports and court testimonies, historian Larry Aaron expertly pieces together the events of September 27, 1903, at Danville, Virginia, when the Old 97 plummeted off a forty-five-foot trestle into the ravine below. With more twists and turns than the railroad tracks on which the Old 97 ran, this book chronicles the story of one of the most famous train wrecks in American history, as well as the controversy surrounding "The Wreck of the Old 97," that most famous ballad, which secured the Old 97 a place within the annals of American folklore.
 October 22
November 5
1:30 p.m.; Free
Join us for a free book talk with Patrick O'Neill on his book "To Annoy or Destroy the Enemy" at 1:30 p.m. 

Two hundred years have passed since the Potomac Squadron fought their way past the White House batteries, eclipsed by the burning of Washington and the bombarding of Fort McHenry.  This book will reveal what history has forgotten; about America's first response to the attack on the nation's capital and the events that truly led to the penning of the Star Spangles Banner in what British naval historian William James wrote in 1837: Of the many expeditions up the bays and rivers of the United States during the late war, none equaled in brilliancy of execution that of the Potomac to Alexandria.
 November 5
Nov. 12
1:30 p.m.; Free
Join us for a free book talk with Rick Richter on his book "Three Cheers fro the Chesapeake" at 1:30 p.m.

Illustrated with previously unpublished photos, letters, documents, and diary entries, the untoldstory of the Chesapeake Artillery comes to light. Comprised chiefly of men who lived near the shores of its namesake bay, the Chesapeake Artillery was the last Confederate battery organized from the state of Maryland. It was also by far the smallest, with barely more than half the average enrollment of other Maryland batteries in the Confederate army. Despite its size, the unit was frequently cited for its bravery and efficiency, including by Stonewall Jackson. This is the history of the unit, from its formation through all its battles with the Army of Northern Virginia until the surrender at Appomattox, where only 13 men remained. A unique statistical analysis of census and military records data highlights its characteristics. Included is a complete roster of all the men who served in the unit.
 November 12
Dec. 3
1:30 p.m.; Free
Join us for a free book talk with Dave Goetz on his book "Ever the Gray Ghost: Colonel John Singleton Mosby and the Lincoln Conspiracies" at 1:30 p.m. 
About the Book: David Goetz begins by examining the background of individuals and groups from both sides in the War Between the States who wanted to capture or kill Confederate President Jefferson Davis and U. S. President Abraham Lincoln.

It is a fascinating story and offers new insights and focuses on numerous attempts to capture or kill Abraham Lincoln. Although Colonel Mosby’s and his Rangers’ roles have been discussed in many books and publications, Goetz is the first to write a book considering Mosby as an integral part of the Lincoln conspiracies.


January 7 (snow date January 21)
1:30 p.m.; Free

Join us for a free book talk with Charlie Clark on his book "Hidden History of Arlington County" at 1:30 p.m.

About the Book:

Arlington County, for two centuries a center for government institutions, is a vibrant part of the Washington, D.C., community. Many notable figures made their home in the area, like Supreme Court chief justice Warren Burger, General George "Blood ’n’ Guts" Patton and a beauty queen who almost married crooner Dean Martin. The drama of Virginia’s first school integration unfolded in Arlington beginning in the late 1950s. In the 1960s, two motorcycle gangs clashed in public at a suburban shopping center. Local author, historian and "Our Man in Arlington" Charlie Clark uncovers the vivid, and hidden, history of a capital community.

About the Author:


Charlie Clark is a longtime journalist in the Washington, D.C. area who writes the weekly Our Man in Arlington column for the Falls Church News-Press. By day, he is a senior correspondent for Government Executive Media Group, part of Atlantic Media. He previously worked as an editor or writer for the Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. He lives in Arlington with his wife, Ellen.





March 18, 2018
1:30 p.m.; Free
 Join us for a free book talk with Paula Tarnapol Whitacre on her book "A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time - Julia Wilbur's Struggle for Purpose" at 1:30 p.m.


"Paula Whitacre’s scholarship expands our knowledge of the African American experience before, during, and after the Civil War. A fascinating look at Wilbur and Civil War Alexandria, Virginia."—Audrey P. Davis, director of the Alexandria Black History Museum and historical advisor to the PBS series Mercy Street(Audrey P. Davis 2017-02-27)

"Paula Whitacre has created a compelling portrait of a nineteenth-century abolitionist working on the front line of change. Julia Wilbur joins the ranks of tough-minded women who stood firm at the point where idealism meets reality."—Pamela D. Toler, author of Heroines of Mercy Street (Pamela D. Toler 2017-02-27)

"In Paula Whitacre’s talented hands, Julia Wilbur’s life bursts from the page. She appears as an adoring aunt, an ardent activist, Harriet Jacobs’s ally, a committed teacher, and, most of all, an eyewitness to the ending of slavery and the beginning of freedom."—Jim Downs, author of Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction (Jim Downs 2017-02-27)


April 16, 2018
1:30 p.m.;
 Join us for a free book talk with Liz Mundy on her book "Code Girls" at 1:30 p.m.

"Irresistible.... We owe Mundy gratitude for rescuing these hidden figures from obscurity. Even more valuable is her challenge to the myth of the eccentric, inspired, solitary male genius, like Alan Turing."―Elaine Showalter, Washington Post

"Code Girls...finally gives due to the courageous women who worked in the wartime intelligence community."―

"Liza Mundy’s Code Girls reveals one of World War II’s last remaining secrets: the true tale of the young American women who helped shorten the war and saved thousands of lives by breaking the codes of the German and Japanese armed forces. But it’s also a superbly researched and stirringly written social history of a pivotal chapter in the struggle for women’s rights, told through the powerful and poignant stories of the individuals involved. In exploring the vast, obscure, and makeshift offices of wartime Washington where these women performed seemingly impossible deeds, Mundy has discovered a birthplace of modern America."―Glenn Frankel, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of High Noon

"Code Girls is a riveting account of the thousands of young coeds who flooded into Washington to help America win World War II. Liza Mundy has written a thrilling page-turner that illuminates the patriotism, rivalry, and sexism of the code-breakers’ world."―Lynn Povich, author of The Good Girls Revolt