Free Book Talks

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September 22, 2019
Too Much for Human Endurance: The George Spangler Farm Hospitals and the Battle of Gettysburg; 1:30 p.m

About the Book: The bloodstains are gone, but the worn floorboards remain. The doctors, nurses, and patients who toiled and suffered and ached for home at the Army of the Potomac’s XI Corps hospital at the George Spangler Farm in Gettysburg have long since departed. Happily, though, their stories remain, and noted journalist and George Spangler Farm expert Ronald D. Kirkwood brings these people and their experiences to life in "Too Much for Human Endurance": The George Spangler Farm Hospitals and the Battle of Gettysburg.

Using a massive array of firsthand accounts, Kirkwood re-creates the sprawling XI Corps hospital complex and the people who labored and suffered there—especially George and Elizabeth Spangler and their four children, who built a thriving 166-acre farm only to witness it nearly destroyed when war paid them a bloody visit that summer of 1863. Stories rarely if ever told of nurses, surgeons, ambulance workers, musicians, teenage fighters, and others are weaved seamlessly through gripping, smooth-flowing prose.

About the Author:Ronald D. Kirkwood is retired after a 40-year career as an editor and writer in newspapers and magazines including USA TODAY, the Baltimore Sun, the Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News, and the York (PA) Daily Record. Ronald edited national magazines for USA TODAY Sports and was NFL editor for USA TODAY Sports Weekly. He has won numerous state, regional, and national awards for his writing and editing and he managed the copy desk in Harrisburg when the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012. Ronald is a native of Dowagiac/Sister Lakes, MI, and a graduate of Central Michigan University, where he has returned as guest speaker to journalism classes as part of the school’s Hearst Visiting Professionals series. Ronald has been a Gettysburg Foundation docent at The George Spangler Farm Field Hospital Site since it opened in 2013, and he explores the Gettysburg battlefield dozens of times a year. Ronald and his wife, Barbara, live in York. They have two daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren.

October 20, 2019
Hall of Mirrors (Virginia Hall: America's Greatest Spy of World War II); 1:30 p.m

About the book: Hall of Mirror" is the story of Virginia Hall-a former State Department clerk who, after losing her leg in a hunting accident, suffered discrimination, quit and was recruited to become the Allies’ first spy to live behind the lines in WW II France. She organized resistance groups, conducted sabotage operations, and reported secret intelligence back to the Allies. Eventually betrayed, Hall escaped the Gestapo’s Klaus Barbie (the "Butcher of Lyon") by crossing the snow-capped Pyrenees, dragging her prosthetic limb behind her. Despite her harrowing escape, Virginia demanded to return to France. Her spymasters refused, telling her it was a suicide mission. But Virginia ignored the dangers-certain capture, horrible torture, a painful death-and returned to France on the eve of the D-Day invasion.

About the Author :Early in my career as a CIA analyst, I arrayed facts as one might arrange bits of tile to create a mosaic. I argued with others, who, using the same facts, created a different montage, a different story. We debated the details, forged consensus, presented alternatives. Our analyses went to our country’s top leaders. They took action based on what we wrote.  I learned that words matter. Over the course of my career I’ve worked in all of the Agency’s major directorates, with scientists, agents, seventh-floor officials, and while the topics and people changed, the common denominator of my experience was a simple instrument: my pen.  Now, I’m free to chart my own course.  As a former Senior Intelligence Officer with decades of writing experience and post-graduate degrees in Government from Georgetown and Writing from Johns Hopkins, I’ve set my sights on freelance writing—with a focus on people.