Encounters with History/The Illusion of Victory, America in World War I 
Thomas Fleming 
October 8, 2003

Thomas Fleming is a historian and prolific author with a mesmerizing flair for capturing pivotal moments, events and figures in history. With a surpassing breadth of expertise, his research and writing take readers on exciting journeys of wide-ranging historical topics from the American Revolution to the poignant impact of the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. A fellow of the Society of American Historians, Mr. Fleming frequently appears as a guest on PBS, NPR, A&E, The History Channel, and other television and radio venues.

In his History Series presentation, Mr. Fleming will discuss his personal encounters with people who influenced politics, national issues, and world events. Growing up in Jersey City, he witnessed the maneuvers of long-time mayor and political boss Frank Hague. Later, he spent four years at West Point where he met Gen. Omar Bradley and Gen. Leslie Groves, among others. He also met with President Harry S. Truman while working on a biography of the 33rd president. After providing his personal perspective on the many historical figures he has observed, met, and interviewed, Mr. Fleming will talk about his recent book, The Illusion of Victory, America in World War I.

In The Illusion of Victory, Mr. Fleming provides a fresh perspective on Woodrow Wilson and his famous reversal from dove to hawk. Included in USA Today's list of best summer books in 2003, Mr. Fleming paints a picture of a president who sacrifices his principles for political expediency and in the end falls victim to his own flaws of character. The book also describes scenes from the battlefields and the effects of the new weapons and artillery of the day. In graphic detail a portrait of war emerges that underscores the unintended consequences of political decisions and the sheer brutality of military might.

Mr. Fleming lives in New York City and Westbrook, Connecticut. His other books include: The New Dealers War: F.D.R. the War Within World War II; Duel, Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America; and Liberty! The American Revolution. In addition, Mr. Fleming has written two novels, Conquerors of the Sky, celebrating 100 years of flight in America, and The Officers Wives, the story of three West Pointers and their wives during Korea and Vietnam, which was an international bestseller.

Please visit the Official Website of Thomas Fleming to learn more about his books and to read articles written about this great author and historian.

Visit Wikipedia for even more information on Thomas Fleming.

Tommy the Cork 
David McKean 
November 20, 2003

David McKean is a Washington-based writer, and former chief of staff to Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II. During his decade-long tenure in government, he served as special counsel to the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission, and as one of the chief investigators in the Senate’s inquiry into the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). A graduate of Harvard University, Mr. McKean earned his jurist doctorate from Duke University, and a master’s of arts degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Mr. McKean comes to the History Series with a fascinating discussion of his recent book, Tommy the Cork, a biography of Thomas Corcoran. Intelligent and shrewd, Corcoran first arrived in Washington in 1931 as a law clerk for Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. A middle-class Irish Catholic, Corcoran had earned the highest grades ever achieved at Harvard Law School. A brilliant lawyer, wily political operator, and likable rogue, Corcoran would become the most important and valued strategist in FDR’s inner circle.

Corcoran was the first super-lobbyist, the first person to fully understand the symbiotic relationship between the executive branch, the Congress, and corporate America. Corcoran knew how to size people up, apply leverage, and call in to devastating effect the favors he liberally spread around town. Drawing on sources ranging from FBI wiretaps to interviews with family members, McKean traces Corcoran’s career from his early days with Holmes and FDR to his behind-the-scenes orchestration of President Eisenhower’s intervention in Guatemala. Anyone interested in the history of Washington's inner-workings and tales of political intrigue will find this story irresistible.

In addition to his government service and academic achievements, McKean is a former Annenberg Fellow and co-author of Friends in High Places, a biography of Clark Clifford (Little, Brown and Co., 1995). His Annenberg publications include:

  • Communications and Culture: Should the United States Protect Cultural Property?
  • The Media and Complex News Stories: Why the News Media Took So Long to Focus on the Savings and Loan and BCCI Crises
  • Media Coverage of the Drug Crisis

David McKean, Tommy the Cork, John Kerry and more at Duke Law

Visit Google Books and find some of David McKean's publications.

Atlantis, The True Story 
Thomas R. Martin 
March 4, 2004

Thomas R. Martin is Jeremiah O’Connor Professor in Classics at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Born in Greenville, South Carolina, and raised in Beckley, West Virginia, Dr. Martin received his B.A. (1970) in Classics summa cum laude from Princeton, and his M.A. (1972) and Ph.D. (1978) in Classical Philology from Harvard, with graduate work at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens (1973-75).

The ancient Greeks made an essential contribution to civilization with the invention and practice of philosophy. Among the most famous is Plato who used stories to teach philosophy and moral lessons. Dr. Martin takes the audience on a journey to Atlantis. Plato insisted that the fantastic tale of Atlantis, the lost civilization, was a true story, not a myth. For many historians and Atlantis enthusiasts, the story of the lost civilization begins with two of Plato’s dialogues, Timaeus and Critias. These accounts are the only known written records referring to Atlantis. Many people believe the tale to be complete fiction, the creation of a philosopher's imagination used to illustrate an argument. Others believe that the story was inspired by catastrophic events which may have destroyed the Minoan civilization on Crete and Thera. Still others maintain that the story is an accurate representation of a long lost and almost completely forgotten land. Presenting evidence and theory, Dr. Martin attempts to answer the question: If Atlantis is a true story, what did Plato want us to learn from its existence and demise?

Dr. Martin’s teaching and publications concentrate on ancient Greek and Roman history. His book, Ancient Greece, From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times (Yale University Press, 1996, 2000), has become popular with students and general readers alike. He has also published and co-authored textbooks on Western civilization, most recently The Making of the West (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001; concise edition 2003). He has also been selecting and reviewing books in ancient history for the History Book Club for more than 20 years. As one of the founders of the Perseus Project, Interactive Sources and Studies on Ancient Greece (Yale University Press, 1992, 1996, 2000, and on the Internet at www.perseus.tufts.edu), he has helped create CD-ROM and on-line resources for studying ancient Greek history and culture.

Dr. Martin lives in Sutton, Massachusetts with his wife, Ivy Sun. He has two children, Alex and Andrea.

To read customer reviews of his book Ancient Greece, From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times, visit amazon.com.

Professor Martin is Chair of the Classics department at Holy Cross.

Catherine the Great: The Passions of an Empress 
Cynthia Hyla Whittaker 
April 22, 2004

Cynthia Hyla Whittaker is chair of the Department of History at Baruch College/CUNY and has taught Russian and European history at Baruch for nearly three decades. Well known for her research and writings on Russian political culture, Professor Whittaker's book, The Origins of Modern Russian Education: An Intellectual Biography of Count Sergei Uvarov, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She also wrote Alexander Pushkin: Epigrams and Satirical Verse. Her articles on Russian history cover a range of topics that include the oriental renaissance, the women’s movement, abolitionism, and university education. She has lectured on her research at American and Russian universities, and also at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow and in St. Petersburg.

Professor Whittaker is currently working on an intellectual biography of Catherine the Great, and she makes this most notable Russian ruler the topic of her History Series presentation. Catherine, who reined from 1762-1796, was without question the most cultured ruler in Russian history. She brought a passion not just to statesmanship but also to writing, reading, art collection, and architecture. German born, she eventually overthrew her husband to become ruler. She carried on a series of liaisons. This talk will analyze the many involvements of an extraordinary empress.

Whittaker received her B.A. from Marymount College in Tarrytown, NY, in 1962. By 1971, she had received master’s degrees in Russian history and Russian literature and a doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

In the past few years, Professor Whittaker has centered her scholarly attention on 18th-century Russia. Her newest book, Russian Monarchy: Eighteenth-Century Rulers and Writers in Political Dialogue, was released in June 2003. Her edited volume Russia Engages the World, 1453-1825 will appear in August 2003. Professor Whittaker is also co-curator of a major exhibition of the same name at The New York Public Library; it will open on October 3, 2003. More than 230 maps, drawings, rare books, and engravings will be displayed.

Visit the Baruch College / CCNY website, where Dr. Whittaker is Chair of the Department of History.

To see books by Cynthia Hyla Whittaker, visit amazon.com.