Start: 12:00 pm
Ticket: $55 (includes lunch & signed copy of The Other Language) "What makes these tales stand out as captivating exemplars of storytelling craft is Ms. Marciano’s sympathetic, but wryly unsentimental knowledge of these people’s inner lives; her ability — not unlike Alice Munro’s — to capture the entire arc of a character’s life in handful of pages; and her precise yet fluent prose (the result, perhaps, of writing in a second language), that immerses us, ineluctably, in the predicaments of her men and women."—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times The Other Language ($24.95), is the most evocative and immediate work yet from Francesca Marciano, a writer adored by readers for her global sensibility, humor, and narrative flair. Taking us to Venice during film festival season, a sun-drenched Greek village at the height of summer holidays, and a classical dance community in southern India, these stories sparkle with insight, pitch-perfect dialogue, and surprising twists. In all of these remarkable stories, characters take risks, confront fears, and step outside their boundaries into new passions and destinies. Enlivened by Marciano's vivid and clear eye on love and betrayal, politics and travel, and the awakenings of childhood, her newest work is a tour de force that illuminates both the joys and ironies of self-reinvention.Book Passage hosts literary luncheons with celebrated authors at our Marin store. These events are catered by the outstanding Insalata’s Restaurant of San Anselmo. The price includes lunch and an autographed book.
Start: 6:00 pm
The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI ($29.95) tells the never-before-told full story of the history-changing break-in at the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, by a group of unlikely activists—quiet, ordinary, hardworking Americans—that made clear the shocking truth and confirmed what some had long suspected, that J. Edgar Hoover had created and was operating, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, his own shadow Bureau of Investigation.Betty Medsger's extraordinary book re-creates in resonant detail how this group of unknowing thieves, in their meticulous planning of the burglary, scouted out the low-security FBI building in a small town just west of Philadelphia, taking into consideration every possible factor, and how they planned the break-in for the night of the long-anticipated boxing match between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, knowing that all would be fixated on their televisions and radios. At the heart of the heist were the contents of the FBI files, revealing J. Edgar Hoover’s “secret counterintelligence program” COINTELPRO, set up in 1956 to investigate and disrupt dissident political groups in the United States in order “to enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles,” to make clear to all Americans that an FBI agent was “behind every mailbox,” a plan that would discredit, destabilize, and demoralize those groups. We see how the release of the FBI files set the stage for the sensational release, by Daniel Ellsberg, of the top-secret, seven-thousand-page Pentagon study on U.S. decision-making regarding the Vietnam War, which became known as the Pentagon Papers.Betty Medsger was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Medsger is a former chair of the Department of Journalism at San Francisco State University and is the founder of its Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism. She is the author of Winds of Change, Framed, and Women at Work.
Start: 7:00 pm
“War! . . . . / What is it good for? / Absolutely nothing,” says the famous song—but archaeology, history, and biology show that war in fact has been good for something. Surprising as it sounds, war has made humanity safer and richer.In War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots ($28.00), the renowned historian and archaeologist Ian Morris tells the gruesome, gripping story of fifteen thousand years of war, going beyond the battles and brutality to reveal what war has really done to and for the world. Stone Age people lived in small, feuding societies and stood a one-in-ten or even one-in-five chance of dying violently. In the twentieth century, by contrast—despite two world wars, Hiroshima, and the Holocaust—fewer than one person in a hundred died violently. The explanation: War, and war alone, has created bigger, more complex societies, ruled by governments that have stamped out internal violence. Strangely enough, killing has made the world safer, and the safety it has produced has allowed people to make the world richer too.War has been history’s greatest paradox, but this searching study of fifteen thousand years of violence suggests that the next half century is going to be the most dangerous of all time. If we can survive it, the age-old dream of ending war may yet come to pass. But, Morris argues, only if we understand what war has been good for can we know where it will take us next.Ian Morris is the Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor of Classics and Professor in History at Stanford University, and the author of the critically acclaimed Why the West Rules—for Now. He has published ten scholarly books and has directed excavations in Greece and Italy. He lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains.