The History Series inaugural lecture will feature author, professor and television personality Buddy Levy who will discuss his latest nonfiction book, River of Darkness. Although this Spanish expedition accidentally ended up hurtling down the Amazon River, the trek was not propelled by a noble desire for exploration. Orellana’s journey instead was fueled by an intense and insatiable lust for gold.
On the afternoon of October 26, 1881, in a vacant lot in Tombstone, Arizona, a showdown between eight armed men erupted in a deadly shootout. This scenario has spawned countless cinematic interpretations. But what really happened that day? Author Jeff Guinn separates fact from fiction in The Last Gunfight Utilizing archival research and new material from private collections, Guinn deconstructs the myth of the OK Corral and finds that the truth is even more colorful than the fictional tale.
Des Moines resident Heath Lee discusses her debut biography, about Varina Anne “Winnie” Davis, the youngest daughter of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Known throughout the post-Civil War South as the “Daughter of the Confederacy,” the young woman fell in love with the Northern grandson of a famous abolitionist. Revelations in the press about this relationship brought North-South tensions to a head, and Winnie and her family were forced back into the national spotlight. Based upon years of research and interviews with descendants of the Davis family, Daughter of the Lost Cause is a real-life saga set in the last days of the Civil War and in the dawn of the New South.
Michael Nieberg will close the 2013-2014 History Series with his lecture exploding myths about Europe and World War I. Neiberg’s book shows that ordinary Europeans, unlike their political and military leadership, neither wanted nor expected war during the summer of 1914. The author’s extensive research through letters, diaries and memoirs of these everyday citizens across Europe illustrates the shock and horror they experienced when the nightmare of war became a reality. It was only after the fighting and bloodshed began that national hatreds began truly emerge.