Add by RSS Feed
Get the Android app
Get the iOS app
Stu Levitan, Angie Trudell Vasquez, Devin Trudell, George Dreckmann
Madison BookBeat highlights local Wisconsin authors and authors coming to Madison for book events. It airs every Monday afternoon at 1pm on WORT FM .
4 days ago
Poet Matthew Gutierrez Keeps Notes Along the Way
In this edition of Madison Bookbeat, host Angie Trudell Vasquez speaks with poet Matthew Gutierrez. He's the author of Notes I Wrote Along the Way (Ten16 Press, 2020), a collection of original poetry in English and Spanish. About the guest: Matthew James Gutierrez received his master's degree in educational psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. As an undergraduate, he studied creative writing, focusing on fiction writing and poetry. Other experiences include screenplay and television writing courses at UCLA. You can follow Matthew on Instagram: @matthewjames_g and @notes2poetry.
Aug 8, 2022
Mystery author Patricia Skalka on the importance of place
Wisconsin author Patricia Skalka is out this summer with Death Casts a Shadow (July 2022, UW Press). It's her seventh book in the Dave Cubiak mystery series, which pits a former Chicago cop against a roster of killers, all in beautiful Door County. In fact, the series was sparked by the beauty of Door County itself, says Skalka. She joins host David Ahrens to talk about the importance of place as a character in storytelling in this edition of Madison Bookbeat. About the guest: Patricia Skalka is the author of the award-winning Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries. She turned to fiction after a career in nonfiction as a staff writer, freelancer, ghost writer, writing instructor, and book reviewer. She lives in Milwaukee and Door County. You can find more about her at patriciaskalka.com.
Jun 28, 2022
Doug Moe, “The Right Thing To Do – Kit Saunders-Nordeen and the rise of Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Wisconsin and Beyond.”
Stu Levitan welcomes Madison native Doug Moe for a conversation ab out his new biography of the UW’s first director of women’s athletics, Kit Saunders-Nordeen. On June 23rd 1972, President Richard Nixon did two things with historical significance. In a meeting with chief of staff H. R. Haldeman, he told Haldeman to call FBI director Pat Gray and tell him to stay the hell away from Watergate because it was a CIA matter, which of course it was not. This was the so-called ‘smoking gun’ tape which quickly led to Nixon’s resignation when it was released a little over two years later. And, with a more appropriate nod to his re-election campaign, Nixon also signed the Education Amendment Act of 1972 with its 37 words and four commas now known as Title IX – “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” The impact of Title IX on women’s athletics at the University of Wisconsin – and the critical role that Katherine Kit Saunders played in defining that impact -- is the business that occupies Doug Moe in his latest biography, “The Right Thing To Do – Kit Saunders-Nordeen and the rise of Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Wisconsin and Beyond.” It is a book the native Madisonian and 1979 graduate of the UW is well-equipped to write. Doug Moe is, after all, one of Madison’s most prolific and honored journalists and authors. He’s written 12 books, including Tommy Thompson’s autobiography, biographies of legendary Chicago newspaperman Mike Royko, Madison builder Marshall Erdmann and Madison jewelers and philanthropists Irwin and Robert Goodman, a history of the fabled but now defunct UW boxing program and more. In his 18 years as a daily columnist with the Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal, he wrote more than 4,000 columns, which is about 3 million words, and continues to write a monthly column for Madison Magazine and a weekly blog for its website. He is so active, in fact, that his website isn’t doug moe dot com, it’s doug moe dot org. Speaking personally, in my work as a historian of Madison, I know I have benefitted greatly from several of his books, and am very much looking forward to one he’s working on now – the autobiography of State Senator Fred Risser. It is a great pleasure to welcome to MBB the great biographer of modern Madison, my friend Doug Moe.
1 hr 5 min
Jun 13, 2022
Poet Marilyn Taylor
This week on Madison Book Beat, host Rusty Russell speaks with poet Marilyn Taylor. Marilyn Taylor is a former Poet Laureate of Wisconsin, and of the city of Milwaukee. Her poems have appeared in many anthologies and journals, and she’s published eight collections of poetry, the latest of which is Outside the Frame (Kelsay Books, December 2021). Taylor taught poetry and writing at UW-Milwaukee for 15 years. She was the Poet Laureate of the state of Wisconsin from 2009-2010, and of the city of Milwaukee from 2004-2005. She lived in Milwaukee for forty years, but now resides in Madison. You can find more about her on her website here.
Jun 6, 2022
The Ideas That Shaped America With Professor Ratner-Rosenhagen
What ideas made our country what it is today? In her latest book, UW-Madison history professor Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen explores the history of thinkers and their thoughts in shaping public thought about liberty, religion, republicanism, and democracy. It’s called The Ideas That Made America: A Brief History, published in 2019 by Oxford University Press. She joined host George Dreckmann on the phone in this pledge drive edition of Madison BookBeat. About the guest: Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is the Merle Curti and Vilas-Borghesi Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at UW-Madison, where she specializes in US intellectual and cultural history across philosophy, political and social theory, literature, and the arts. She is also the author of American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas (University of Chicago Press, 2012) as well as co-editor of Protest on the Page: Essays on Print and the Culture of Dissent since 1865 (UW Press, 2015) and The Worlds of American Intellectual History (Oxford University Press, 2016).
May 16, 2022
Jeffrey Boldt’s “Blue Lake”
Host David Ahrens spends the hour with Jeffrey Boldt, a Madison author with deep experience in the subject of his new environmental legal thriller, Blue Lake (River Grove Books, 2022). It’s a novel that combines romance and a thrilling mystery, amidst the rich beauty black spruces, white pines, and austere Upper Midwest lakes. It’s a novel that Jeffrey Boldt was well-primed to write, drawing on his legal experience as a retired administrative law judge for the state.
Apr 25, 2022
Dr. Patrick McBride, "The Luckiest Boy in the World"
Stu Levitan welcomes a Madison author with a remarkable life story, Dr. Patrick McBride. His book, written with his twin brother Dennis is, “The Luckiest Boy in the World.” Dr. McBride earned a zoology degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1976, a medical degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1980, and a master’s degree in public health from the University of South Carolina in 1982. Two years later he joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin Medical School, and with a senior colleague started the first inpatient family practice service at the UW Hospital and Clinics while also serving as the director of a new UW clinic in DeForest. He would later serve as Associate Dean of Students, Associate Dean for Faculty and as Director of Alumni Relations for the renamed School of Medicine & Public Health (UW-SMPH). In his 37-year career, he published over 200 journal articles, abstracts, and book chapters, brought in millions of dollars in grants to fund medical research, received 16 teaching awards, and upon his retirement in 2017, was named professor emeritus. Among his many other honors, enshrinement on the Wauwatosa East High School’s “Wall of Inspiration.” He has been married to Kimberly Schappe McBride for forty-two years, and they have two adult children, Sean and Gabrielle. His twin brother and co-author Dennis has an equally impressive resume. In 2020 he was elected to a four-year term as Mayor of their hometown of Wauwatosa, following ten years on the city’s common council. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from UW-Milwaukee, a master’s degree in public administration from Princeton University, and a law degree from New York University, and spent the bulk of his professional career as Senior and Supervisory Trial Attorney for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A former track star and champion marathoner, he was inducted into the Athletic Halls of Fame at UW-Milwaukee and Wauwatosa East. But before all of Pat’s accomplishments and honors, a unique entry on his resume that presaged all that was to come – he was, and remains, the youngest Equipment Manager and Assistant Trainer in professional sports history. And all because of a 25-word answer he wrote in 1969 to the question – why would you like to be a bat boy for the Milwaukee Brewers? He got the gig when he was just 15, and from that opportunity came the chance to also work for the Green Bay Packers. Then he hit the trifecta, as a ball boy for the new Milwaukee Bucks. But it was not an idyllic life growing up in Wauwatosa for Paddy and Dinty, and their five siblings. In fact, it was a living hell, because their parents – both of them successful and popular journalists – were alcoholics who fought constantly before finally separating. “The Luckiest Boy in the World” tells the amazing and inspirational story of how Pat McBride not only survived but thrived, first in locker rooms and arenas, then in medical clinics and the halls of academia. It is a real pleasure to welcome him to Madison BookBeat.
1 hr 9 min
Apr 11, 2022
Author Rebecca Donner tells Mildred Fish Harnack's story in "All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days"
In this edition of Madison Book Beat, David Ahrens speaks with Rebecca Donner, author of a compelling and deeply-researched biography about her great-great-aunt Mildred Fish Harnack, a Wisconsin woman who went on to lead an anti- Nazi espionage ring in Berlin. It's titled "All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler," (Little, Brown and Company, 2021), was an instant New York Times bestseller, and has since received multitudinous honors, including being listed for a 2022 National Book Critics Circle Award, a New York Times Notable Book of 2021, and a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Best Book of the Year. Rebecca Donner is the winner of many awards and is the recipient of a 2022 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. She is also the author of the novel Sunset Terrace and Burnout, a graphic novel about ecoterrorism. Ms. Donner is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, and has taught writing at Wesleyan University, Columbia University, and Barnard College. She is the great-great niece of Mildred Harnack.
Mar 28, 2022
Jim Berkenstadt, "Mysteries in the Music: Case Closed"
Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers. Stu Levitan welcomes back to the program the Rock and Roll Detective himself, Madison’s own Jim Berkenstadt, to talk about his latest book Mysteries in the Music: Case Closed. Who really discovered Elvis Presley? What role did the CIA play in the gun attack on Bob Marley and his eventual death from cancer? How seriously did the FBI take its investigation into whether the lyrics to Louie, Louie were dirty? Did the Beach Boys steal a song from Charles Manson? Did Bob Dylan really record an album with members of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones? These are just some of the controversies and conspiracy theories Jim Berkenstadt investigates as only he can, before providing definitive answers. It’s a book he is uniquely qualified to write. He is, after all, the Rock and Roll Detective, LLC, specializing in uncovering the lost histories and solving the mysteries of pop music. And because musicians know and trust him, he has great access to the people who were there when the deals went down. The book is filled with revealing interviews with such legendary musicians as Elvis’s late great guitarist Scotty Moore, drummers Hal Blaine and Jim Keltner, producer Glyn Johns, and my old cab driving colleague Butch Vig, who also wrote the forward, and more. And not just musicians – this may be the only book which features interviews with Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, disgraced Col. Oliver North, a sitting federal judge, and even a former CIA agent. Jim is especially authoritative about the Beatles, serving as historical consultant for Martin Scorcese’s HBO Emmy-wining film, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, as well as to the estate of George Harrison and the Beatles’ Apple Corps. Itself. Sharp-eyed viewers will have spotted his name among those thanked in the credits to Peter Jackson’s majestic new 8-hour film about the recording of the Beatles’ Let It Be album, Get Back. In addition to the new book tour, Jim is currently serving as co-executive producer and script consultant on the feature film adaptation of his book The Beatle Who Vanished, about the drummer Jimmie Nicol, who at the height of Beatlemania in 1964 filled in for a fortnight when Ringo Starr was felled by tonsilitis just before a world tour. That best-seller has been included in the Library and Archives of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as have his earlier books Black Market Beatles and Classic Rock Albums: Nirvana-Neverrmind,. He was also a featured expert for several seasons on the Reelz Channel TV series Celebrity Legacies and Celebrity Damage Control. He lives north side with his wife, Holly Cremer Berkenstadt. Jim was with us last fall to discuss The Beatle Who Vanished, and it is a pleasure to welcome him back to MBB.
Mar 22, 2022
Ed Werstein's Poems From the Headlines
Milwaukee poet Ed Werstein's latest collection is titled Communiqué: Poems From The Headlines. The book is sectioned like a newspaper, and Werstein's poems are inspired by headlines both new and old. In this edition of Madison Book Beat, hosts Angela Trudell Vasquez and Devin Trudell speak with Ed about his newest collection and revisit some topics in the news over the last decade.
Feb 28, 2022
William S. Becker, "The Creeks Will Rise: People Coexisting With Floods"
Stu Levitan welcomes William S. Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project and author of, The Creeks Will Rise: People Coexisting With Floods, from the good people at Chicago Review Press. Floods are a fact of life, and have been that way forever. Almost every culture around the world has a creation myth that features a flood. Today, they remain a necessary part of nature, renewing the soil, creating new habitats. But while floods are natural, flood damages are not – they are solely the responsibility of humankind. And it’s a massive responsibility – thanks to our decades of building in floodplains, floods are also the most frequent and most expensive type of weather disaster in the United States, accounting for 90 percent of our natural disasters. From 1980 to 2019, the United States suffered 32 billion-dollar floods, averaging about $5 billion in flood damages a year, part of the $1.6 trillion in weather-related damages during that time. During that…
1 hr 7 min
Jan 31, 2022
Stuart D. Levitan, "Madison in the Sixties"
Guest host George Dreckmann welcomes Stu Levitan to discuss his book Madison in the Sixties, from the very good people at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. Documenting those issues, along with stories of the public schools, highways and transportation, law and disorder, planning and economic development, and other topics, is the business that occupies Stu Levitan in this first comprehensive account of the most famous decade in our history. Stu did not spend the sixties in Madison. He first passed through Madison on the Grateful Dead tour in early 1973, then came for good in August, 1975. But still, he is uniquely qualified to write about them. As a newspaper reporter for the Capital Times and then the Madison Press Connection in the mid-late seventies, he covered many of the issues and individuals from the sixties. As a county supervisor representing a downtown district in the early to late eighties, he dealt with the legacy of the actions and decisions from then. And as a long…
1 hr 18 min
Jan 3, 2022
Aimee Nezhukumatathil, "World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks and Other Astonishments."
Madison BookBeat - Your listener-supported, community radio home for Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers. Stu Levitan gets 2022 off to a wondrous start with an encore presentation of a conversation with Aimee Nezhukumatathil about her an enchanting and stimulating collection of illustrated nature essays called “World Of Wonders: In Praise Of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, & Other Astonishments.” Published by the good people at Milkweed Editions, it was named Book of the Year by Barnes and Noble, and was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize in nonfiction. And Aimee met two of the criteria as a former Badger who was at the Wisconsin Book Festival. If you took Aldo Leopold’s expert eye for Nature and Marcel Proust’s ability to evoke memory out of experience and filtered it all through a poet and essayist who was the daughter of a Filipina mother and South Indian father, you might come close to what Aimee Nezhukumatathil has accomplished in World of Wonders. Born in Chicago…
Dec 13, 2021
Christina Clancy, "Shoulder Season"
Our guest today is Madison author Christina Clancy, for a conversation about her new novel, Shoulder Season. Christi gave a very interesting and engaging talk at the Wisconsin Book Festival in October, and I’m delighted to bring her to you today. As you may, or more likely may not know, from 1968 to 1981 there was in southeast Wisconsin the Lake Geneva Playboy Club Hotel, a full-service facility featuring big-name entertainment, championship golf course, a restaurant, cocktail lounge, and, yes the requisite colony of bunnies – many of whom were from small towns around Wisconsin. Towns like East Troy, about 15 miles up HWY 120, where the Alpine Valley Music Center opened in 1977 – the largest amphitheater in the country until 1993. The former Playboy Club, which had become the Americana Center in 1982, has been the Grand Geneva Resort since 1993, What life was like for the young women who became Bunnies, and how the resort and the amphitheater affected East Troy, are the main is…
Dec 6, 2021
UW Prof. Paige Glotzer, "How the Suburbs Were Segregated: The Business of Exclusionary Housing, 1890-1960"
Stu Levitan welcomes UW professor Paige Glotzer, whose first book is the important and eye-opening examination of the origins of systemic racism in housing, How the Suburbs Were Segregated: Developers and the Business of Exclusionary Housing, 1890-1960, just honored as the recipient of the 2021 Kenneth Jackson Award Best Book in North American Urban History from the Urban History Association. It should come as no surprise that racial segregation has been a bedrock principle of suburban development from its very beginning, way back in the 19th century. In 1891, a British land syndicate called the Lands Trust Company purchased a large tract of land in northern Baltimore MD, formed the Roland Park Company and began developing what became one of the first planned segregated suburbs in the United States. How the leaders of the Roland Park Company formulated their exclusionary practices, and extended their influence into the very structure of federal housing policy, is the business that occ…
Nov 29, 2021
UW Prof. Francine Hirsch, "Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II"
Madison authors, topics, book events & publishers It's Stu Levitan's birthday, his 68th birthday to be precise, so he's taking the day off and dialing up an encore presentation of a conversation from this past February with UW Prof. Francine Hirsch, the author of Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II. Published by Oxford University Press, it is an award-winning reappraisal of the trial that became the pivot point between World War 2 and the Cold War. On November 20 1945, the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union opened the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, putting on trial 22 Nazi leaders and seven organizations, charged with conspiring in a crime against peace, planning and waging wars of aggression, participating in war crimes, and committing crimes against humanity. On September 30 and October 1, 1946 judges from the four countries announced their verdicts – 12 of the a…
1 hr 8 min
Nov 22, 2021
Jackie Lees & KG Miles, "Bob Dylan in London: Troubadour Tales"
Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers. We deviate from the usual concept just a bit this week to welcome Jackie Lees and KG Miles to discuss their book, Bob Dylan in London: Troubadour Tales, a combination illustrated guidebook for a walking tour, history lesson and critical analysis. And there is sort of a Madison connection, because Madison was the last place Dylan stayed before he went to New York for the first time in January 1961, which is where KG’s next book, Bob Dylan in the Big Apple: Troubadour Tales of New York, begins. It was bitterly cold in NY that winter, and it would be even colder when Dylan went to London in December 1962, which is where Jackie and K.G. pick up the story. It is a story they are eminently qualified to write, as Londoners who are longtime Dylan aficionados and co-curators of the Dylan Room at the Troubadour Club. Jackie took a break from a career writing and editing for a homelessness charity to work on the book, the room and also pro…
Nov 15, 2021
Lisa S. Johnson, "Immortal Axes: Guitars That Rock"
Madison authors, topics, book event and publishers. Stu Levitan deviates a bit from that concept today with his guest Lisa S. Johnson because she’s got a new book out which you might want to know about for your holiday gift-giving or gift-asking needs. The book is Immortal Axes, Guitars That Rock, an absolutely gorgeous coffee table photography book focusing on some of the most important guitars in modern music – guitars played on seminal recordings and at historic events – and even some concerts in Madison — by the likes of Les Paul, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Duane Allman, B.B. King, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Phil Lesh, Johnny Cash and more, 157 guitarists in all, 350 pages of high-end photographs and insightful short essays, plus a Forward by Peter Frampton and an afterward by Suzi Quatro. The book is published by the good people at Princeton Architectural Press. Lisa S Johnson followed a somewhat circuitous route to becoming one of the pre-eminent photo…
Nov 8, 2021
George Hesselberg, "Dead Lines: Slices of Life from the Obit Beat"
Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers Today’s program hits for the cycle, as we welcome George Hesselberg. His book Deadlines: Slices of Life from the Obit Beat, a collection of obituaries he wrote for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1979 to 2017, was just published by our very good friends at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, and was the subject of an event a few days ago at Mystery To Me Books, which is still available for virtual viewing. It is an inescapable truth that every person and animal on this planet is going to die. Some will die in glory, some will die in shame, most will die in private, their passing unnoticed by all outside their circle of family and friends. Or their passing would go unnoticed, were it not for their newspaper obituary. Usually, the obituary is a straightforward account of the signposts and milestones of their lives – dates and places, marital and family status, occupation, hobbies, details of the visitation and funeral. But i…
Nov 1, 2021
Jim Berkenstadt, "The Beatle Who Vanished."
As the world eagerly awaits Peter Jackson’s documentary about the Beatles last public performance, Stu Levitan welcomes Jim Berkenstadt, author of The Beatle Who Vanished, to discuss a fascinating story about performances near the beginning of their career. In the spring and summer of 1964, the Beatles ruled pop music like no one before or since. In April, they held the top five spots on the Billboard Hot 100, with another 7 singles also on the list. In late May, even the rerelease of their debut single from 1962, Love Me Do, had gone to number one. They’d conquered Great Britain and America. Now they’re about to take over the world, with a month-long tour of Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. The tour is set to start June 4. But Manager Brian Epstein does not let them relax on the third, scheduling a photo shoot for the Saturday Evening Post in the morning, and recording sessions in the afternoon and evening. But they never get to the EMI studios, because drummer Ringo…
1 hr 12 min
Oct 25, 2021
Terry Frei, "Third Down And A War To Go: The All-American 1942 Wisconsin Badgers"
Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers. We click on two of the criteria today as Stu welcomes the award-winning journalist Terry Frei, author of Third Down and a War to Go: The All-American 1942 Wisconsin Badgers, from our very good friends at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. The 1942 Wisconsin football team, was coached by one of Knute Rockne’s fabled Four Horsemen, and led by three All-Americans. It went 8-1-1, finishing second in the Big Ten and placing third in the final Associated Press poll. Among the stars were several who would go on to play in the National Football League, including the legendary Elroy Crazy Legs Hirsch. And there were players who would play an important role at the UW for decades to come, like Otto Breitenbach and Bob Rennebohm. But there were far more who would suit up in far more serious uniforms – the uniforms of a branch of the United States Armed Forces. Their country called them to war, and off they went. They didn’t all s…
1 hr 6 min
Oct 18, 2021
UW Prof. Jordan Ellenberg, "Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else"
Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers It’s the most wonderful time of the year, time for the Wisconsin Book Festival, 28 events this week alone, both in-person and online, and Stu Levitan welcomes one of the featured presenters, and one of the brightest stars in the firmament that is the University of Wisconsin faculty, Professor Jordan Ellenberg, to discuss his NYTimes best-seller, Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else. Prof. Ellenberg will be appearing this Saturday at 3 o’clock at the Discovery Building, 330 N Orchard St., so Stu thought it would be a good idea to dial up an encore presentation of our conversation from this past July. As coined by the ancient Greeks, “geometry” literally means “measuring the world,” and the world which Jordan Ellenberg measures in Shape is wide and far-flung indeed. Gerrymandering, the tv show Survivor, Abraham Lincoln, pandemics and flitting mosquitoes, artificial in…
1 hr 13 min
Oct 11, 2021
Prof. Chad Alan Goldberg, "Education For Democracy: Renewing The Wisconsin Idea"
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, time for the Wisconsin Book Festival, and Stu Levitan welcomes one of the featured presenters, University of Wisconsin Professor Chad Alan Goldberg, editor of an important new volume Education for Democracy: Renewing the Wisconsin Idea, from our very good friends at the University of Wisconsin Press. Prof. Goldberg will be giving talk on his book live and in-person at the Madison Central Library on Saturday October 23, so Stu thought it would be a good idea to dial up an encore presentation of their conversation from this past March. And by the way, Stu’s show next week will feature another UW professor giving an in-person presentation on the 23rd, Prof. Jordan Ellenberg, talking about his best-seller, Shape. According to Wisconsin statute 36.01(2), the mission of the university of Wisconsin system is “to develop human resources, to discover and disseminate knowledge, to extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its…
Oct 4, 2021
Prof. Patrick W. Steele, "Home of the Braves: The Battle for Baseball in Milwaukee"
Stu Levitan interviews Prof. Patrick W. Steele about his award-winning book, "The Home of the Braves: The Battle for Baseball in Milwaukee," from the University of Wisconsin Press.
Sep 27, 2021
Dave Zirin, "The Kaepernick Effect: Taking A Knee, Changing The World"
On the second and last Madison BookBeat show during the fall pledge drive, Stu Levitan welcomes a long-time friend of community radio and other alternative media, Dave Zirin. His new book The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World was just published by our friends at The New Press, and brought him to a Madison book event at the Cap Times Idea Fest earlier this month. You probably know about Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. In 2012, he led the Niners to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1994 – a playoff run that you might recall included a record-setting performance against the Green Bay Packers. The next year, his first full season as a starter, the 49ers almost made it back to the big game, narrowly losing the NFC championship game to the Seattle Seahawks, led by former Badger Russell Wilson. 2014 and 2015 weren’t that hot for either Kap or the Niners, and after several coaching changes, by 2016 he was back to being…
Sep 20, 2021
Nicholas D. Hayes, "Frank Lloyd Wright’s Forgotten House: How An Omission Transformed The Architect’s Legacy"
For his first show during the fall pledge drive, Stu Levitan welcomes Nicholas D. Hayes, author of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Forgotten House: How An Omission Transformed The Architect’s Legacy from our very good friends at the University of Wisconsin Press. If you ask someone who knows even a little bit about architecture about FLW, they’ll probably mention the breathtaking design of Fallingwater, or the glorious Guggenheim Museum or maybe Taliesin. Those in Northern California no doubt think about the Marin County Government Complex, while here in Madison it’s Monona Terrace, and maybe the Lamp House and the Jacobs House. But before all that, before he became known as the world’s greatest architect, Wright had a vision that was truly transformative – to design beautiful houses with organic integrity which would be affordable to ordinary people. He called it the American System-Built Houses (Ready-Cut), and starting in 1912 devoted an extraordinary amount of time and energy…
1 hr 3 min
Sep 13, 2021
Jonathan Z. S. Pollack, "Wisconsin, The New Home of the Jew: 150 years of Jewish life at the UW-Madison"
Stu Levitan marks the Jewish High Holy Days with an encore presentation of his conversation from April 2020 with Jonathan Z. S. Pollack, History instructor at Madison College and Honorary Scholar at the George L. Mosse / Laurence A Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin, which last year issued his new book Wisconsin The New Home of the Jew: 150 years of Jewish life at the UW-Madison. It’s available both in paperback of about 150 pages and a pdf download from the CJS website, cjs.wisc.edu. Jon is the co-editor, with Jonathan Rees, of The Voice of the People: Primary Sources on the History of American Labor, Industrial Relations, and Working-Class Culture, which includes some of the scholars discussed in this new book. Jon has published several articles on the Jewish history of the Midwest, and he is a frequent guest on Wisconsin Public Radio. He had the advantage of attending two of the three best schools in the Big Ten, getting his bachelor’s at Michi…
Sep 6, 2021
David Maraniss, "Path Lit By Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe"
Stu Levitan welcomes Madison’s favorite journalistic son, and his most frequent guest, David Maraniss. As proud Madisonians know, David grew up on the west side, the son of Capital Times editor Elliott Maraniss and University of Wisconsin Press editor Mary Cummins Maraniss, graduating from West High in 1967. To the rest of the world, he is a best-selling author and an associate editor at the Washington Post, where he won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 1993 for his coverage of presidential candidate Bill Clinton, and was part of the Post’s team that won the Pulitzer in 2008 for its coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting. Stu has had the pleasure of interviewing David about several of his bestselling books, most recently _A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father_, about the aforementioned Elliott. We’ve also aired conversations about his books _Barack Obama: The Story, Clemente_: _The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero; Once In A Great City: A Det…
1 hr 2 min
Aug 30, 2021
Richard L. Pifer, "The Great War Comes to Wisconsin: Sacrifice, Patriotism, and Free Speech in a Time of Crisis"
Stu welcomes Richard L. Pifer for a discussion of his book “The Great War Comes to Wisconsin: Sacrifice, Patriotism, and Free Speech in a Time of Crisis.” It’s from our very good friends at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, and was awarded the Silver Award for Best Regional Non-Fiction category in the Independent Publisher’s IPPY Awards. It was 107 years ago this month that the guns of August roared and plunged Europe into the most terrible war the world had yet seen. By the time the guns fell silent at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, about ten million military men would die – 1800 of them from Wisconsin, with another six thousand or so Badger boys injured, leaving about 110,000 who made it back to Wisconsin without physical damage. Of the 118,000 troops from Wisconsin, about 3,000 came from Madison – enabling women to enter the labor force in such large numbers they even had their own machinists union. Among the Wisconsin doughboys, the fab…
Aug 23, 2021
UW Prof. John Milton Cooper, Jr., "Woodrow Wilson: A Biography," part 2
Stu Levitan welcomes UW Professor Emeritus John Milton Cooper, Jr., for part two of their discussion of one of the most important presidents in American history – Thomas Woodrow Wilson, whose legacy is as complex and controversial as any of our Chief Magistrates. Wilson amassed one of the most impressive records of progressive legislation of any president, yet left the worst record on race relations of any president in the 20th century, and allowed egregious violations of civil liberties. He kept us out of war in Mexico, but took us into war in Europe. A great student and thinker about good government, he was sloppy in appointing his cabinet officials and negligent in supervising them. A devout Presbyterian, he appointed the first Jew to the US Supreme Court, was the first president to visit the Roman Catholic Pope, and was buried in an Episcopal cathedral. And he’s the man after whom Woody Guthrie is named. It’s a record so rich for discussion this is our second show devoted to…
1 hr 18 min
Aug 16, 2021
Jennifer Chiaverini, "The Women's March"
Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers Stu Levitan welcomes NY Times best-selling author Jennifer Chiaverini, here to discuss her latest novel of historical fiction, The Women’s March, about the historic 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession. It is just out from the good people at William Morrow, and imprint of HarperCollins. Although Jennifer technically lives in Middleton, she identifies as a Madison author, so that’s good enough for Stu. On March 3, 1913, the National American Woman Suffrage Association held the first large political protest march in the history of Washington DC. Its purpose was to press its demand for a constitutional amendment to enfranchise women. March organizer Alice Paul chose the date and location very well – down Pennsylvania Avenue, the day before the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson – the last president to be elected before universal suffrage. And what a march it was to be, with floats and chariots and thousands of women in color-coded outfi…
1 hr 15 min
Aug 9, 2021
Greg Mitchell, "The Beginning Or The End: How Hollywood – And America – Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb""
On the 76th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, an encore presentation of Stu Levitan’s conversation from last August with Greg Mitchell, about his twelfth book _The Beginning Or The End: How Hollywood – And America – Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb_, published by the good people at the New Press, and getting rave reviews. “The Beginning or the End” was a B movie about the A bomb, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in February, 1947. It promised to disclose what it called “the biggest, best-kept secret in the history of the world – the men, the magic, the machines behind the world’s strongest force – the atom bomb.” The movie was, the studio declared in all caps with exclamation points FACTUAL! AUTHENTIC!” Well, not quite. Because a movie set in motion by scientists wanting the world to know the truth was taken over by the military and the White House needing the world to believe a lie. How that happened is the business that occupies Greg Mitc…
Aug 2, 2021
Andrew Maraniss, "GAMES OF DECEPTION, The True Story of the First U.S. Olympic Basketball Team, and the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Germany."
Well, the Olympics are giving us some great performances and amazing story lines, so we have dialed up an encore presentation of our 2020 conversation with a true grandson of Madison, Andrew Maraniss, about his award-winning book Games of Deception, the True Story of the First U.S. Olympic Basketball Team, and the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Germany. You all know what basketball is, you all know what the Olympics are, you all know who Hitler was. So that part doesn’t need any more introduction. As to Andrew Maraniss. First of all, he is, as you may have surmised, the son of two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author David Maraniss and the pioneering environmentalist Linda Maraniss, born right here in Madison, now a resident of Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife Alison, and their two young children. David, of course, has also written a best-selling book about the Olympics, Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World. I interviewed David about that book when i…
Jul 26, 2021
Jesse Garcia, "Going For Wisconsin Gold: Stories Of Our State Olympians"
Well, against much of the world’s better judgement, the Olympics are underway, so we have dialed up an encore presentation of our conversation with Madison native and former WISC TV sports reporter and anchor Jessie Garcia, about her book _Going For Wisconsin Gold: Stories of Our State’s Olympians, _from our good friends at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. The spine-tingling thrill of victory. The mind-numbing agony of defeat. All on the world’s greatest athletic stage. In the 118 years after the first modern Olympics in 1896, there were more than 400 Olympic athletes with Wisconsin ties. In 2014 alone, more than 35 of the 230 athletes representing the United States were bound to the Badger state in one way or another. This year, there are 32, including 10 from the UW and 2 from your world champion Milwaukee Bucks. Several past Wisconsin Olympians are known around the world as among the greatest – or in fact, the greatest – ever to compete in their sport. Some are re…
Jul 19, 2021
Barrett Swanson, "Lost In Summerland"
Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers Stu Levitan welcomes one of the most interesting and insightful essayists on the scene today, Barrett Swanson, here to discuss his outstanding first collection, Lost in Summerland, published this spring by the good people at Counterpoint Press. Addressing toxic masculinity at a men’s retreat in Ohio. Embedded on an organic produce farm in Waunakee run by a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Dealing with the traumatic brain injury to his older brother, and the drowning death of his best friend. Sussing out a utopian compound in the Florida swamps. Working on his football technique with his father. Role-playing a victim at FEMA’s massive disaster simulation site in Texas. Hanging out at the West Wing Weekend outside Washington. Being moved beyond comprehension at a spiritualist retreat he attended with his brother in upstate New York. Just some of journeys Barrett Swanson takes to find America – and himself – in the age of Tr…
1 hr 8 min
Jul 12, 2021
UW Prof. Jordan Ellenberg, "Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else."
Stu Levitan welcomes one of the brightest stars in the firmament that is the University of Wisconsin faculty, Professor Jordan Ellenberg, here to talk about his New York Times best-seller, Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else. As coined by the ancient Greeks, “geometry” literally means “measuring the world,” and the world which Jordan Ellenberg measures in Shape is wide and far-flung indeed. Gerrymandering, the tv show Survivor, Abraham Lincoln, pandemics and flitting mosquitoes, artificial intelligence, even an answer to the question ‘how many holes in a straw’? And it’s an accessible world – yes, there are symbols and equations, and you’re welcome to have pad and paper with you as you read, but the book is mainly a narrative built on stories and people. Jordan Ellenberg was not a late-bloomer. The son of two biostatisticians, he taught himself to read at age two by watching Sesame Street, he was competing in…
1 hr 12 min
Jul 5, 2021
Joan Steinau Lester, "Loving Before Loving: A Marriage In Black And White"
Stu Levitan welcomes the social justice activist, educator, award-winning columnist, and author Joan Steinau Lester. Her memoir Loving Before Loving: A Marriage in Black and White is just out from our very good friends at the University of Wisconsin Press. Along with her Madison publisher, Joan also could have joined us as a Madison author, with a Ph D from the fabled UW history department; but, for reasons we’ll discuss, she was unable to accept the department’s offer. Personally, and professionally, Joan Steinau Lester has been at the forefront of most of the great social justice movements of the last seven decades. As a teenager, she refused to sign an anti-Communist loyalty oath and picketed for civil rights. At 22, she married a Black man, the writer, educator and activist Julius Lester, in 1962, when mixed-race marriages were illegal in 27 states. At 64, she married a White woman when that wasn’t legal anywhere. In the late sixties, she was part of an early Women’s Liber…
1 hr 18 min
Jun 28, 2021
R. Richard (Dick) Wagner, "We’ve Been Here All Along: Wisconsin’s Early Gay History"
Stu Levitan welcomes R. Richard (Dick) Wagner for a special Pride Month encore presentation of our conversation about his award-wining _We’ve Been Here All Along: Wisconsin’s Early Gay History,_ from our very good friends at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. The book covers the period from territorial days to the 1960s; Dick’s companion volume, _Coming Out, Moving Forward: Wisconsin’s Recent Gay History _brings the story up to the present day. In 1982, under Republican Governor Lee Dreyfus, Wisconsin became the first state in the country to adopt a gay rights law, making discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal. In 1983, under Democratic Governor Tony Earl, Wisconsin became the first state to have a Governor’s Commission on Lesbian and Gay Issues. Wisconsin is the only state to have elected three openly gay members of Congress – 2 Democrats, 1 Republican. But the dairy state has not always been so friendly to non-normative sexuality. In fact, laws…
Jun 21, 2021
Andrew Maraniss, "Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke"
Stu Levitan welcomes award-winning and bestselling author Andrew Maraniss for a special Pride month conversation about Glenn Burke, who was a rising young star in Major League Baseball in the late seventies until he was effectively run out of the game because he was gay. The book is Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke, from the good people at Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Andrew is that rarest of authors – not just a true son of Madison, but a grandson of Madison, born right here in 1970 to Linda and David Maraniss, Linda an environmentalist and David of course also being an award-winning and bestselling author and the son of Mary Maraniss, a book editor at the UW Press, and her husband Elliott, the subject of David’s most recent book and during the very period that Andrew writes about, my editor at the Capital Times. This is Andrew’s third book examining the intersection of sports and society, and our third conversation, following Strong Inside: Pe…
Jun 14, 2021
Joel Selvin, "Hollywood Eden: Electric Guitars, Fast Cars, and the Myth of the California Paradise"
Stu Levitan welcomes the award-winning journalist, music critic and author Joel Selvin for a conversation about his new book Hollywood Eden: Electric Guitars, Fast Cars, and the Myth of the California Paradise, from the good people at House of Anansi Press. It’s the inside story of how one of the first great pop styles was born in a high school locker room and then went on to conquer the world. It’s a story Joel Selvin is exceptionally well-qualified to tell. No only is he an award-winning journalist and music critic who covered pop music for the San Francisco Chronicle for more than thirty-five years, and the author of best-selling books about the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, Ricky Nelson, Haight-Ashbury and more. He is also a native Californian, albeit one from the Bay Area, who first visited Los Angeles as a 10-year-old, just at the time the events in this book were transpiring. As to the requisite Madison connection, well, it’s through me. Because this is the third ti…
1 hr 10 min
May 31, 2021
Patty Loew, "Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal"
Stu Levitan welcomes the renowned broadcast journalist, educator and author Patty Loew, formerly of Madison, for a conversation about the second edition of her award-winning book Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal, from our very good friends at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. Wisconsin has about 87,000 American Indians living on about 647,000 acres of reservation and in various urban and rural settings, about 1.5% of the state’s population on about 1.5 percent of the state’s land mass. But despite those small percentages, the 11 federally recognized nations and tribal communities – Menominee, Oneida, Ho-Chunk, Forest County Potawatomi, Stockbridge-Munsee, and the six bands of the Lake Superior Ojibwe, plus the unrecognized Brothertown Indian Nation – have played a huge role in our history, economy and culture. Telling that history is the business that occupies Patty Loew in Indian Nations of Wisconsin, a comprehensive and accessible accoun…
1 hr 14 min
May 24, 2021
Jonathan Taplin, "The Magic Years: Scenes from a Rock-and-Roll Life"
Stu Levitan welcomes someone who’s had an exceptionally interesting and varied career in music, movies, finance and technology - Jonathan Taplin, author of The Magic Years: Scenes From a Rock and Roll Life. And what a life it’s been, with scenes filled with figures from the pantheon of pop culture – Bob Dylan, George Harrison, the Rolling Stones, the Band, Judy Collins, Martin Scorcese, Wim Wenders, even the Walt Disney Studios. And as the founder of the first streaming Video On Demand Platform in 1996, called Intertainer, and holder of two patents for that technology, Director Emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California, and former Professor at the USC Annenberg School, Jon is also among our foremost thinkers and doers concerning the intersection of technology and culture, a topic he addressed in his very prescient book in 2017, Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Have Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy. As f…
1 hr 11 min
May 17, 2021
Carl Hiaasen, "Squeeze Me"
Stu Levitan welcomes the award-winning comic novelist and just-retired columnist for the Miami Herald Carl Hiaasen, coming to the Wisconsin Book Festival for a virtual appearance at the Madison Public Library Foundation’s Lunch for Libraries next Tuesday May 25. Carl will be discussing his uproarious new bestseller Squeeze Me, now out in paperback with a brand-new epilogue, which will be sent to all who attend that annual fundraising event. Squeeze Me is a sharp, even savage satire set in Palm Beach FL involving a giant Burmese python, a missing society matron, a gutsy wildlife wrangler, a mystery man with one eye and a great library, hapless crooks, a wrongly accused immigrant, a crude and stupid president of the united states in residence at Casa Bellicosa, and much more. It is classic Carl Hiaasen, which means it is a fiercely funny social commentary about life, death and the environment in the Sunshine State. It’s a pleasure to welcome to Madison BookBeat, Carl Hiaasen.
May 10, 2021
Jeff Kannel, "Make Way For Liberty: Wisconsin African Americans in the Civil War"
Stu Levitan welcomes Jeff Kannel, author of Make Way For Liberty: Wisconsin African Americans in the Civil War from our very good friends at the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. When the civil war began in April 1861, neither the US Army or the Wisconsin state militia allowed Black men to serve. But on April 9, 1865, Black men – some of them from Wisconsin — held the rifles that fired the last shots preventing Robert E Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia from escaping at the Battle of Appomattox Court House. By that time, more than 450 Black men, residents of Wisconsin or credited to the state, had served in the US Colored Troops. In addition, several hundred, maybe thousands, had served in support roles for Wisconsin officers and regiments. Who those men were, and what their lives were like before, during and after the war, are the questions Jeff Kannel answers in this comprehensive survey of an overlooked aspect of our shared history. They’re answers he started researchi…
May 3, 2021
Alison Bechdel, "The Secret To Superhuman Strength"
Stu Levitan welcomes the cartoonist Alison Bechdel, whose long-awaited graphic memoir The Secret to Superhuman Strength comes out tomorrow and is already receiving rave reviews. It also features the extremely extensive coloring collaboration of her, wife, the artist Holly Rae Taylor. And on Thursday at 4 o’clock, Alison will be appearing at the Wisconsin Book Festival, in conversation with another best-selling memoirist, Cheryl Strayed, the author of Wild. “The unexamined life,” Socrates reportedly said during his trial for impiety, “is not worth living.” By that standard, as well as many others, Alison Bechdel has had a very worthwhile life. The Secret to Superhuman Strength, a decade-by-decade examination of her exuberant, sometimes excessive, pursuit of bodily and metaphysical fitness, is her third graphic memoir examining her life and that of her family. It follows Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, from 2006, about the strained relationship she had with her closeted gay fat…
Apr 19, 2021
Richard Jones, "Poetry East"
Stu Levitan celebrates National Poetry Month by welcoming Professor Richard Jones of DePaul University, editor of its award-winning illustrated literary journal Poetry East, now celebrating its 100th edition and 40th anniversary. Part two of our conversation with Howard Sherman about his book Another Day’s Begun” Thornton Wilder’s Our Town in the 21st century, originally scheduled for today, will be heard later this spring. Richard Jones is the author of sixteen books of poems, most recently his quasi-memoir of a peripatetic life, Stranger on Earth. He has been anthologized in Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems and Billy Collins’s Poetry 180, and his poems have been featured on National Public Radio, BBC Radio, and The Writer’s Almanac. His selected poems, The Blessing, won the Society of Midland Authors Award for Poetry in 2000. It’s a pleasure to welcome to Madison Bookbeat, Prof. Richard Jones.
1 hr 5 min
Apr 12, 2021
Edward Ball, "Life Of A Klansman: A Family History In White Supremacy"
*Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers* Stu Levitan welcomes Edward Ball, his latest book is the most extraordinary family memoir I have ever read, Life Of A Klansman: A Family History In White Supremacy, from the good people at Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Demographers tell us that about 137 million white Americans – more than half the current white population of the country – are direct descendants of members of the Ku Klux Klan, mostly from the second wave, from 1915 to 1925. Edward Ball’s link to the Klan goes back even further. His grandmother’s grandfather was Polycarp Constant Lecorgne, a downwardly mobile carpenter of French Creole descent born in New Orleans in 1832. He served – none-too-honorably — as a Confederate soldier during the Civil War and then in its immediate aftermath joined the first generation of the Ku-Klux and other white terrorist groups in their murderous and successful effort to “redeem” their heritage, end Reconstruction and re…
1 hr 1 min
Apr 5, 2021
Sarah Chayes, "On Corruption In America And What Is At Stake"
Stu Levitan welcomes Sarah Chayes, her latest book is On Corruption in America and What is At Stake, from the good people at Penguin Random House. It has been said that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. One of the ways that evil manifests itself is through corruption – individuals, or more likely networks, abusing public office for private gain. How to identify and fight that corruption is the business that occupies Sarah Chayes in her new book, as it has occupied much of her professional life, especially as special assistant on corruption to then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, and as advisor to military leaders David McKiernan and Stanley McChrystal. After the Pentagon, she spent five years as a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Her previous books include Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, for which she won the 2016 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghan…
1 hr 6 min
Mar 29, 2021
Brian Alexander, "The Hospital: Life, Death and Dollars in a Small American Town"
Stu Levitan welcomes Brian Alexander, his new book is The Hospital: Life, Death and Dollars in a Small American Town, just out from the good people at St. Martin’s Press. Brian will be presenting at the Wisconsin Book Festival tomorrow evening, Tuesday March 30, at 7pm in a conversation with Wisconsin Public Radio’s Angela Fitzgerald. Brian’s appearance is part of a series on health care issues faced by underserved communities, made possible through a partnership with our very good friends at the Madison Public Library and a research program of the National Institutes of Health called All of Us, conducted locally at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Bryan Ohio is a small town of about eighty-five hundred people, the county seat of Williams County in the most northwestern corner of Ohio. Its largest employer, and most important community asset, is the non-profit Bryan Hospital, an 85-bed facility which opened exactly 85 years ago and is now the flagship campus of the three ent…
Mar 22, 2021
Miles Harvey, "The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch"
Stu Levitan welcomes Miles Harvey for a conversation about his new book, The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch. Miles gave a very successful talk at the Wisconsin Book Festival last fall. Alas, Stu was not able to schedule him before that appearance, and he’s very happy to be able to bring him and his wildly entertaining book to you now. James Jesse Strang was born in rural western New York in 1813. As a man, he was short and balding and entirely unprepossessing except for his eyes. He became a jack-of-many useful trades – most importantly attorney, postmaster, and newspaper editor. He called himself “a perfect atheist, an inveterate unbeliever and opposer of the Mormon faith.” Yet in early 1844, on a happenstance visit to the large Mormon enclave at Nauvoo Illinois, he was baptized by the religion’s founder, Joseph Smith himself. A week later, he was ordained an elder of t…