Posts From Author: abraham lincoln

In Case of Emergency…

It was a well-travelled audience that left City Winery on Monday night after the House of SpeakEasy’s latest literary cabaret, In Case of Emergency. From Sierra Leone to Delhi via 1930s New York and a near-miss with the Mob went writer-performer-stars Daniel Bergner, Maggie Shipstead, Leonard Lopate, J.D. McClatchy and Amor Towles. It was Seriously Entertaining stuff. Daniel Bergner kicked off with a great tale of magic and medicine in Sierra Leone. Taking up the story of Michael Josiah, who appears in his 2003 book In the Land of Magic Soldiers, Bergner spoke about his “two lives, two minds”. Josiah was always determined to become a doctor, and studied (western) medicine so enthusiastically that he would continue to do so by candlelight long into the night. But when disrupted, as he often was, by the irruption of fighting in Sierra Leone’s civil war, he would join up with the Kamajors, a group of warriors purported to possess magical powers, the potential to cure cancer, and the ability to dodge bullets. Bergner described several occasions when he was invited to watch the Kamajors’ miracles in person. Slathered in a sacred liquid, the soldiers would become apparently impervious to injury. Indeed, Josiah encouraged him […]
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Earth’s Immeasurable Surprise: Simon Winchester on the United States

We’re thrilled at the House of SpeakEasy to be joined for our sold-out opening gala by the British-born historian Simon Winchester, whose work includes books on China, the Oxford English Dictionary, and, most recently, the United States of America… The United States. This unique national quality — of first becoming and then remaining so decidedly united — is a creation that, in spite of episodes of trial and war and suffering and stress, has been sustained for almost two and a half centuries across the great magical confusion that is the American nation. The account that follows, then, is on one level a meditation on the nature of this American unity, a hymn to the creation of oneness, a parsing of the rich complexities that lie behind the country’s so-simple-sounding motto: E pluribus unum. So writes Winchester in the preface to his engrossing, enthralling, enlightening The Men Who United the States (Harper, 2013). Here is encapsulated the glorious freewheeling nature of his working method, more hymnal than forensic, leavened as much with personal experience as names and dates. Many of the reviews of his book have commented on Winchester’s evident love for the US (see the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Telegraph) — the passion, in fact, […]
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Firestarters: Adam Gopnik on Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin

If, like me, you tend to want to know more than you can possibly read about, a sudden urge to learn about, say, Abraham Lincoln or Charles Darwin can be an occasion for despair. The literature on such seminal figures is vast and expanding, like an Everest that’s getting bigger. Or the universe. In short: intimidating. So to come across a book like Adam Gopnik‘s Angels and Ages: A Short Book about Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life is a bit like finding that the Himalayan authorities have installed a ski lift just for you. We’re super lucky to have Adam Gopnik joining us for the House of SpeakEasy’s opening gala at City Winery NYC on January 27. A long-time New Yorker contributor and three-time winner of the National Magazine Award for Essays, he has that forensic gift of the great essayist, the uncanny ability to see Aquarius where others see just stars. In Angels and Ages, recognising that his choice of subjects prohibits definitive coverage, he unspools his elegant premise from a single (but fertile) line of inquiry: the debate over what Edwin Stanton said at Lincoln’s deathbed. Stanton was Lincoln’s secretary of war and as close to the president as any man. It was natural that those […]
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