Politics, History & Social Issues

POSTPONED: Marian Lindberg - Scandal on Plum Island (San Francisco Ferry Building Store)

Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 6:00pm

Please note: This event has been postponed due to concerns for the health and well-being of our community. For updates on this event and for additional event information, please subscribe to our e-newsletter.

The carefree parties on Plum Island drew the ire of Maj. Benjamin Koehler, yet he would be the man later arrested and accused of “immoral conduct” at the end of 1913. Koehler, a West Point alumnus and Philippine War veteran, had been tasked with bringing discipline to the 700 men living at Fort Terry, a sprawling garrison on a beautiful island off New York’s coast. He lived on officers row with his sister, an educated and independent woman who, like her brother, was unmarried. Little did the devoted siblings know that Fort Terry would soon become the stuff of front-page headlines, with Ben Koehler at the center of them—and not for his patriotic efforts. The claims that Fort Terry’s commander had engaged in homoerotic behavior shocked the Army and Koehler’s many supporters, but the accusers were smart, triggering one of the first high-profile instances of federal legal process against an alleged homosexual.

Deeply researched, involving historical figures as contrasting as Theodore Roosevelt and Susan B. Anthony, Scandal on Plum Island traces Koehler’s career from respected officer to vilified outcast and turns up provocative information about his defense. Moving from America’s heartland to New York City, the Philippines, San Francisco, the east end of Long Island, and government offices in Washington, D.C., his story is a warning about the high cost to individuals and society when people and governments police the sexual orientation of others who seem different. Involving a toxic mixture of egos, malice, and changing standards of masculinity [over a century ago], Koehler’s experience speaks directly to modern discussions of gender norms, damaging stereotypes, and the fundamental misunderstandings that divide our country.

A lawyer and award-winning journalist, Marian Lindberg spent several years researching the story of injustice told in Scandal on Plum Island while also working to open New York’s Plum Island to the public after the United States closes its classified laboratory located there. Lindberg’s previous book told of her search for the truth underlying a family story of murder in the Amazon (The End of the Rainy Season: Discovering My Family’s Hidden Past in Brazil.) She is a graduate of Vassar College and Columbia Law School and currently works for The Nature Conservancy.

1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111

POSTPONED: Jennifer Steinhauer - The Firsts: The Inside Story of the Women Reshaping Congress (Corte Madera Store)

Thursday, April 16, 2020 - 7:00pm

Please note: This event has been postponed due to concerns for the health and well-being of our community. For updates on this event and for additional event information, please subscribe to our e-newsletter.

In November 2018, the greatest number of women in American history entered Congress. From Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and “the Squad” to “the Badasses” with national security backgrounds, from the first two Native Americans in Congress to the first two Muslim women, all were swept into office on a wave of grassroots support, diverse in background, age, professional experience, and ideology.

In The Firsts, New York Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer follows these women’s first year in the 116th Congress, chronicling their transition from running trailblazing campaigns to the daily work of governance. In committee rooms, offices, and conversations on the run through the halls of the Capitol, she probed the question: Would Washington, with its hidebound traditions, change the changemakers, or would this Congress, which looked a little more like today’s America, truly be the start of something new?

Vivid and smart, The Firsts delivers fresh details, inside access, historical perspective, and expert analysis as these women—inspiring, controversial, talented, and rebellious—do something truly surprising: make Congress essential again.

Jennifer Steinhauer has covered numerous high-profile beats in her twenty-five-year reporting career at the New York Times, from City Hall bureau chief and Los Angeles bureau chief to Capitol Hill. She won the Newswoman’s Club of New York Front Page Deadline Reporting Award in 2006 for her reporting on Hurricane Katrina. She has written a novel about the television business, and two cookbooks.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

POSTPONED: Tish Lampert - We Protest (Corte Madera Store)

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 - 7:00pm

Please note: This event has been postponed due to concerns for the health and well-being of our community. For updates on this event and for additional event information, please subscribe to our e-newsletter.

In the last few years we have seen a wave of activism wash across our nation and inspire unprecedented protest and civic engagement. People came together in record-breaking numbers, outspoken and persistent. With the winds of resistance at their backs, people linked arms and set out to defend our freedoms and each other.

In We Protest, photojournalist Tish Lampert captures the spirit of the heroes and ordinary citizens on their activist journey to defend their American values during the most conflicted era in our recent history. The book charts the chronology of social-change movements that have dominated the headlines over the past several years: the fight for women's rights and gender equality, immigration rights, civil liberties, gun violence, and the environment. Lampert takes us to the front lines of activism, where she has documented each protest and their respective leaders, as well as the legions of ordinary Americans standing together to protect the values of our great nation.

Tish Lampert is a Los Angeles-based photojouranlist and writer who focuses her lens on human-rights issues. She freelances for the United Nations, the Conflict Awareness Project, United States Veterans' Artists Alliance, and Border Angels. She has won several awards for her work in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the Congo lowland gorilla. Lampert is a recipient of two Nathan Cummings Foundation Family Grants in 2013 and 2019. She is the host of the podcast America Speaks with Tish Lampert.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

POSTPONED: Stephanie Gorton - Citizen Reporters (San Francisco Ferry Building Store)

Saturday, May 2, 2020 - 3:00pm

Please note: This event has been postponed due to concerns for the health and well-being of our community. For updates on this event and for additional event information, please subscribe to our e-newsletter.

The president of the United States made headlines around the world when he publicly attacked the press, denouncing reporters who threatened his reputation as “muckrakers” and “forces for evil.” The year was 1906, the president was Theodore Roosevelt—and the publication that provoked his fury was McClure’s magazine.

One of the most influential magazines in American history, McClure’s drew over 400,000 readers and published the groundbreaking stories that defined the Gilded Age, including the investigation of Standard Oil that toppled the Rockefeller monopoly. Driving this revolutionary publication were two improbable newcomers united by single-minded ambition. S. S. McClure was an Irish immigrant, who, despite bouts of mania, overthrew his impoverished upbringing and bent the New York media world to his will. His steadying hand and star reporter was Ida Tarbell, a woman who defied gender expectations and became a notoriously fearless journalist.

The scrappy, bold McClure's group—Tarbell, McClure, and their reporters Ray Stannard Baker and Lincoln Steffens—cemented investigative journalism’s crucial role in democracy. From reporting on labor unrest and lynching, to their exposés of municipal corruption, their reporting brought their readers face to face with a nation mired in dysfunction. They also introduced Americans to the voices of Willa Cather, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, and many others.

Tracing McClure’s from its meteoric rise to its spectacularly swift and dramatic combustion, Citizen Reporters is a thrillingly told, deeply researched biography of a powerhouse magazine that forever changed American life. It’s also a timely case study that demonstrates the crucial importance of journalists who are unafraid to speak truth to power.

Stephanie Gorton has written for NewYorker.com, Smithsonian.com, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Toast, The Millions, and other publications. Previously, she held editorial roles at Canongate Books, the Overlook Press, and Open Road. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh and Goucher College’s MFA program in creative nonfiction, she lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with her family. 

1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111

POSTPONED: Clarissa Ward - On All Fronts (Corte Madera Store)

Wednesday, April 22, 2020 - 7:00pm

Please note: This event has been postponed due to concerns for the health and well-being of our community. For updates on this event and for additional event information, please subscribe to our e-newsletter.

The recipient of multiple Peabody and Murrow awards, Clarissa Ward is a world-renowned conflict reporter. In this strange age of crisis where there really is no front line, she has moved from one hot zone to the next. With multiple assignments in Syria, Egypt, and Afghanistan, Ward, who speaks seven languages, has been based in Baghdad, Beirut, Beijing, and Moscow. She has seen and documented the violent remaking of the world at close range. With her deep empathy, Ward finds a way to tell the hardest stories. On All Fronts is the riveting account of Ward’s singular career and of journalism in this age of extremism.

Following a privileged but lonely childhood, Ward found her calling as an international war correspondent in the aftermath of 9/11. From her early days in the field, she was embedding with marines at the height of the Iraq War and was soon on assignment all over the globe. But nowhere does Ward make her mark more than in war-torn Syria, which she has covered extensively with courage and compassion. From her multiple stints entrenched with Syrian rebels to her deep investigations into the Western extremists who are drawn to ISIS, Ward has covered Bashar al-Assad’s reign of terror without fear. In 2018, Ward rose to new heights at CNN and had a son. Suddenly, she was doing this hardest of jobs with a whole new perspective.

On All Fronts is the unforgettable storyof one extraordinary journalist—and of a changing world.

Clarissa Ward is CNN's chief international correspondent. In her fifteen-year career spanning Fox, CBS, and ABC, Ward has reported from front lines across the world. She has won five Emmy Awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, two Edward R. Murrow Awards for distinguished journalism, honors from the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association, the 2016 David Kaplan Award from the Overseas Press Club, and the Excellence in International Reporting Award from the International Center for Journalists. She graduated with distinction from Yale University, and in 2013 received an honorary doctor of letters degree from Middlebury College in Vermont. She lives in London.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

POSTPONED: David G. Marwell - Mengele: Unmasking the "Angel of Death" (San Francisco Ferry Building Store)

Friday, April 10, 2020 - 6:00pm

Please note: This event has been postponed due to concerns for the health and well-being of our community. For updates on this event and for additional event information, please subscribe to our e-newsletter.

Perhaps the most notorious war criminal of all time, Josef Mengele was the embodiment of bloodless efficiency and passionate devotion to a grotesque worldview. Aided by the role he has assumed in works of popular culture, Mengele has come to symbolize the Holocaust itself as well as the failure of justice that allowed countless Nazi murderers and their accomplices to escape justice. Whether as the demonic doctor who directed mass killings, or as the elusive fugitive who escaped capture, Mengele has loomed so large that even with conclusive proof, many refused to believe that he had died.

As chief of investigative research at the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations in the 1980s, David G. Marwell worked on the Mengele case, interviewing his victims, visiting the scenes of his crimes, and ultimately holding his bones in his hands. Drawing on his own experience as well as new scholarship and sources, Marwell examines in scrupulous detail Mengele’s life and career. He chronicles Mengele’s university studies, which led to two PhDs and a promising career as a scientist; his wartime service both in frontline combat and at Auschwitz, where his “selections” sent innumerable innocents to their deaths and his “scientific” pursuits—including his studies of twins and eye color—traumatized or killed countless more; and his postwar flight from Europe and refuge in South America.

Mengele describes the international search for the Nazi doctor in 1985 that ended in a cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the dogged forensic investigation that produced overwhelming evidence that Mengele had died—but failed to convince those who, arguably, most wanted him dead. This is the riveting story of science without limits, escape without freedom, and resolution without justice.

David G. Marwell, former director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City, worked on the Mengele case at the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations in the 1980s. A historian who has served and led a number of government and nonprofit institutions, he lives in University Park, Maryland, with his wife.

1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111

POSTPONED: John Tateishi - Redress: The Inside Story of the Successful Campaign for Japanese American Reparations (Corte Madera Store)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - 7:00pm

Please note: This event has been postponed due to concerns for the health and well-being of our community. For updates on this event and for additional event information, please subscribe to our e-newsletter.

Redress is the unlikely but true story of the Japanese American Citizens League's fight for an official government apology and compensation for the imprisonment of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Author John Tateishi, himself the leader of the JACL Redress Committee for many years, is first to admit that the task was herculean in scale. The campaign was seeking an unprecedented admission of wrongdoing from Congress. It depended on a unified effort but began with an acutely divided community: for many, the shame of "camp" was so deep that they could not even speak of it; money was a taboo subject; the question of the value of liberty was insulting. Besides internal discord, the American public was largely unaware that there had been concentration camps on US soil, and Tateishi knew that concessions from Congress would only come with mass education about the government's civil rights violations. Beyond the backroom politicking and verbal fisticuffs that make this book a swashbuckling read, Redress is the story of a community reckoning with what it means to be both culturally Japanese and American citizens; how to restore honor; and what duty it has to protect such harms from happening again. This book has powerful implications as the idea of reparations shapes our national conversation.

John Tateishi, born in Los Angeles, was incarcerated from ages three to six at Manzanar, one of America’s ten World War II concentration camps. He studied English Lit at UC Berkeley and attended UC Davis for graduate studies. He played important roles in leading the campaign for Japanese American redress, and as the JACL director, used the lessons of the campaign to help ensure that the rights of this nation’s Arab and Muslim communities were protected after 9/11.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

POSTPONED: Wes Moore - Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City (Corte Madera Store)

Thursday, April 23, 2020 - 7:00pm

Please note: This event has been postponed due to concerns for the health and well-being of our community. For updates on this event and for additional event information, please subscribe to our e-newsletter.

Tickets: $31 (includes signed copy of Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City)

When Freddie Gray was arrested for possessing an "illegal knife" in April 2015, he was—by eyewitness accounts that video evidence later confirmed—treated "roughly" as police loaded him into a vehicle. By the end of his trip in the police van, Gray was in a coma from which he would never recover. In the wake of a long history of police abuse in Baltimore, this killing felt like a final straw—it led to a week of protests and then five days, described alternately as a riot or an uprising, that set the entire city on edge and caught the nation's attention.

Wes Moore is one of Baltimore's proudest sons—a Rhodes Scholar, bestselling author, decorated combat veteran, former White House fellow, and CEO of Robin Hood, one of the largest anti-poverty nonprofits in the nation. While attending Gray's funeral, he saw every strata of the city come together: grieving mothers; members of the city's wealthy elite; activists; and the long-suffering citizens of Baltimore—all looking to comfort each other, but also looking for answers.

Knowing that when they left the church, these factions would spread out to their own corners, but that the answers they were all looking for could only be found in the city as a whole, Moore—along with journalist Erica Green—tells the story of the Baltimore uprising through both his own observations, and through the eyes of other Baltimoreans: Partee, a conflicted black captain of the Baltimore Police Department; Jenny, a young white public defender who's drawn into the violent center of the uprising herself; Tawanda, a young black woman who'd spent a lonely year protesting the killing of her own brother by police; and John Angelos, scion of the city's most powerful family and owner of the Baltimore Orioles, who has to make choices of conscience he'd never before confronted.

Shaped by these shifting points of view, Five Days is an engrossing, cacophonous account of one of the most consequential moments in our recent history—but also an essential cri de coeur about the deeper causes of the violence and the small seeds of hope planted in its aftermath.

Wes Moore is the CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, one of the largest antipoverty organizations in the country. His first book, The Other Wes Moore, was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller; his second book, The Work, was also a bestseller and featured in Oprah's SuperSoul Sunday. Wes appears regularly as a commentator on NBC News. He lives in his hometown of Baltimore with his wife and two children.

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Please note: Tickets are non-refundable

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

POSTPONED: Bennett Jacobstein - Sarah Winchester: Beyond the Mystery (Corte Madera Store)

Sunday, May 3, 2020 - 1:00pm

Please note: This event has been postponed due to concerns for the health and well-being of our community. For updates on this event and for additional event information, please subscribe to our e-newsletter.

Sarah Winchester lost her only child, Annie, at six weeks old. Her beloved husband William, heir to the Winchester Rifle fortune, died at a young age from tuberculosis. Sarah never recovered from her two heartbreaking losses and channeled her grief into two building projects. Both stand today, 97 years after her death.

In San Jose, California, Sarah built an architectural marvel, a mansion in the American Queen Anne revival style reflecting great beauty and great innovation. Rumor suggests that the grief-stricken widow sought comfort from a medium in Boston who told her that as the heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company fortune she was being cursed by the spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle. She should move west, the medium said, build a house and never stop building. As long as construction continued, she was told, she would not die. The rooms would shelter the good spirits and the sound of hammers would drive away the bad spirits.

A less notorious part of her legacy can be found in West Haven, Connecticut, where Sarah funded the building and operation of a hospital for patients with tuberculosis. The hospital was named the William Wirt Winchester Annex for Tuberculosis, in honor of her late husband. Sarah was especially concerned with helping those of limited economic means. Over the years thousands of lives were saved through the work of this hospital. Although the hospital is no longer operational, the fund Sarah created continues to support the Winchester Chest Clinic, now part of the Yale New Haven Hospital.

Sarah’s hospital remains virtually unknown, whereas the mansion is toured by a steady stream of visitors from around the world. Sarah Winchester: Beyond the Mystery presents historical documents including newspaper and magazine articles, personal correspondence, and interviews with Sarah’s contemporaries to develop a truer version of Sarah Winchester, focused not on her grief but her profound acts of compassion. 

Bennett Jacobstein lives in San Jose, CA. He is a retired librarian and founder of Toucan Valley Publications, publisher of demographic materials and children’s social studies titles. He is the author of The Joy of Ballpark Food: From Hot Dogs to Haute Cuisine, a culinary tour of the food offering of each of the major league baseball stadiums.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

POSTPONED: Jesse Wegman - Let the People Pick the President (Corte Madera Store)

Saturday, March 28, 2020 - 5:00pm

Please note: This event has been postponed due to concerns for the health and well-being of our community. For updates on this event and for additional event information, please subscribe to our e-newsletter.

In conversation with Bill Petrocelli

Two of the last five elections were won by candidates who lost the popular vote, calling the integrity of the entire electoral system into question. Political passions are already high, and they will reach a boiling point as we enter the 2020 race. The message from the American people is clear: we need major reform, and we need it now.

In Let the People Pick the President, New York Times editorial board member Jesse Wegman makes a powerful case for abolishing the antiquated and antidemocratic Electoral College, and choosing presidents based on a national popular vote. He uncovers the Electoral College's controversial origins, profiles the many attempts to reform it over the years, and explains why it is now essential for us to remove this obsolete system and finally make every citizen's vote matter.

Wegman addresses objections from both sides of the aisle and presents an airtight argument that moving toward a national popular vote would reduce voter apathy and political polarization, increase voter turnout, and restore belief in our democratic system. Abolishing the Electoral College is the keystone reform that must be accomplished to improve our politics; Wegman shows that this once-lofty goal can be achieved, and charts a path to accomplishing it.

Jesse Wegman is a member of the New York Times editorial board, where he has written about the Supreme Court and legal affairs since 2013. He previously worked as a reporter, editor and producer at outlets including National Public Radio, The New York Observer, Reuters, The Daily Beast, and Newsweek. He graduated from New York University School of Law in 2005.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

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