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Beacon Hill Seminars Writing Workshop

I’ve had the pleasure of leading a Beacon Hill Seminars Writing Workshop this autumn. Sadly it’s almost over, but I wanted to let you all know about this marvelous resource in the Beacon Hill area.

Beacon Hill Seminars Beacon Hill Seminars is described as “a membership organization of people who have a vigorous interest in continuing their intellectual growth.” I like the use of the word vigorous. Just to give you an idea of the kinds of courses that are usually offered, Lyle Miller is currently leading a seminar titled Hemingway’s Wives, Hemingway’s Works.  And Francesca Piana is teaching International News with a Historical Background and Discussion.
There will of course be more programs offered this spring!

Posted on November 29, 2015 in Front Page, History, Ideas, Literature, Politics
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Arianna Huffington on Picasso and the Clinton White House

Arianna Huffington, the author, journalist and founder of The Huffington Post, spoke with Jenny Attiyeh at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Today she is a media mogul, one of Forbes’ 100 most influential people. But back in 1999, when I had the chance to interview her, Huffington was merely a media star. Her book Greetings from the Lincoln Bedroom had recently been released, and not to universal acclaim. It’s a frolic of a book, a fanciful tale of the Clinton (Bill) White House. But I was more interested at the time in her powerful and still shocking biography of Picasso: Creator and Destroyer.  Huffington, of course, could answer all my questions with ease.
This is the final interview that took place at the Fourth Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in 1999. The second interview was with KCRW’s Michael Silverblatt, and the first was with the comedian and writer Sandra Tsing Loh.
For an audio version of this interview with Arianna Huffington, click here: to listen.

Posted on August 31, 2015 in Art, Biography, Current, Front Page, History, Literature, Politics
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Larry DiCara on Boston’s Busing Era @ Boston Public Library

The Central branch of the Boston Public Library was the setting for the attorney and civic leader Larry DiCara‘s talk on his new book, Turmoil and Transition in Boston: A Political Memoir from the Busing Era.

Larry DiCara
Larry DiCara
When a federal court order mandated busing to achieve racial integration in the public schools, the city of Boston was in danger of ripping apart. In his memoir, DiCara reveals how the public policy decisions and economic and demographic changes of that period helped transform Boston into the thriving city it is today.
Larry DiCara served on the Boston City Council from 1972 to 1981, has taught at Harvard, Boston University and the University of Massachusetts, and today is a partner at the Nixon Peabody law firm, where he practices real estate and administrative law.

Click here: to listen to the talk.

The Boston Public Library’s Author Talk Series continues on February 27th with Stephen Brumwell, author of George Washington: Gentleman Warrior.

Posted on January 31, 2014 in History, Politics
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Islam and its Coat of Many Colors – with Ali Asani

Can a multi-faceted Islam be whatever you want it to be?
All things to all people?

To listen to the renowned Harvard Professor Ali Asani tell it, Islam is a religion of multiple dimensions, interpretations, and perspectives. It’s almost like an all-encompassing religion, whose core beliefs can serve to unite widely diverse cultural groups, which eventually combine to form a dazzling coat of many colors.
But with such a cornucopia of rules and rituals, might the basic tenets of Islam get lost? Could they become confused with ancient tribal codes, which existed prior to Islam, and are difficult to puzzle out, to separate from the Muslim doctrines of today?
This Faculty Insight interview, produced in partnership with ThoughtCast and Harvard Extension School, asks — but perhaps does not always answer — many of these questions. So take a look, see for yourself, and join Ali Asani, Harvard’s Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures,  in the debate!

Posted on January 30, 2013 in Faculty Insight, Harvard Luminaries, History, Ideas, Politics, Religion
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The history and future of the New England Forest

Note: an audio version of this interview was broadcast by the WGBH affiliate WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station, and by KPIP in Missouri.

The forests of New England are, remarkably, a success story. They’ve recovered from attack after attack. The early settlers hacked them down, by hand, for houses, fences and firewood. Later on, the insatiable sawmills of a more industrial age ate up the lumber needed for our expansion.
Today, the forests contend with acid rain, invasive plants and exotic beetle infestations — evidence of our ever more global economy. And the future of these forests? Going forward, that’s a story that’s largely ours to shape, and narrate.

If only these trees could talk … Well, we have the next best thing – Donald Pfister, the Dean of Harvard Summer School, curator of the Farlow Library and Herbarium, a fungologist (the more erudite word is mycologist), and the Asa Gray Professor of Systematic Botany at Harvard University.
In this Faculty Insight interview, produced in partnership with ThoughtCast and Harvard Extension School, he tells the tale of the New England forest from as far back as the glacial Pleistocene era.
To help illustrate this tale, we’ve made grateful use of high resolution images of some dramatic landscape dioramas, which are on display at Harvard’s Fisher Museum, in Petersham, Massachusetts.

Posted on September 3, 2012 in Economics, Environment, Faculty Insight, Harvard Luminaries, History, Science
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