National Archives Hosts Monthly Book Group Discussions in 2007
Press Release · Thursday, January 18, 2007

Washington, DC…The National Archives continues its popular monthly book group discussions in 2007. All programs are free and open to the public, and will be held at noon in the National Archives Building Research Center, Room G-24. Please check the Archives Shop (202-357-5271) for book availability and a special discount for book group participants.

Please note: the public should use the National Archives Building’s 700 Pennsylvania Avenue entrance, between 7th and 9th Streets, NW. The National Archives is fully accessible. To request a special accommodation (e.g., sign language interpreter) for a public program please e-mail or call (202) 357-5000 at least two weeks prior to the event to ensure proper arrangements are secured.

January 17, 2007
My Face Is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations, by Mary Frances Berry. The African-American struggle for compensation for years of unpaid labor began at the dawn of emancipation. In this account of the first mass reparations movement led by African Americans, historian and lawyer Berry, who chaired the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, unearths the intriguing story of Callie House (1861– 1928), a Tennessee washerwoman and seamstress become activist, and the organization she led, the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association.

February 21, 2007
Lincoln's Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers' Home, by Matthew Pinsker. Lincoln spent parts of 1862-1864 living not at the White House, but in a cottage on the grounds of the Soldiers' Home, a residence for disabled veterans just outside the capital in Maryland. Drawing on manuscripts, including the letters of soldiers assigned to guard Lincoln at his retreat, Pinsker illuminates this little-known part of the President’s life. He also provides vivid accounts of various moments in Lincoln's public life that occurred at or involved the Soldiers' Home, such as the writing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

March 21, 2007
No Constitutional Right to be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship by Linda K. Kerber. The author discusses the development of American law defining women’s civic obligations from Revolutionary times to the present. Beginning with the common law doctrine of coverture, she describes how the law, past and present, has shielded women from civic obligations otherwise exacted from men, and how this exemption contributed to the denial of women’s civic rights. She presents a series of narratives focusing on particular women whose situations became catalysts for political and legal change.

April 18, 2007
The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf, by William C. Davis. Davis recounts the true story of New Orleans privateers Jean and Pierre Laffite, from about the time of the Louisiana Purchase through the 1820s. He separates fact from fiction as he relates the brothers as complex if ruthless businessmen who, while savaging the trade of Spanish merchants on the gulf, formed the foundation for a profitable syndicate. Their associates included leading citizens and government officials on the take. The Laffites themselves, however, became notorious only when they courted the Spanish and betrayed their allies.

May 16, 2007
Coming out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two, by Allan Berube. This study chronicles the struggle of homosexuals in the U.S. military during WW II where they found themselves fighting on two fronts: against the Axis and against their own authorities who took extreme measures to stigmatize them as unfit to serve their country. From 1941 to 1945, more than 9000 gay servicemen and women purportedly were diagnosed as sexual psychopaths and given "undesirable" discharges. The book reveals that the first public challenge to the military's policy came not from the gay-rights movement but from military psychiatrists who studied gay servicemen and women during World War II.

June 20, 2007
Watergate: the Presidential Scandal that Shook America, by Keith W. Olson. More than thirty years after the June 17, 1972, break-in at the Democratic Party's National Committee headquarters in Washington, historians continue to struggle with how a third-rate burglary led to a massive White House cover-up that forced President Richard M. Nixon to become the only person to resign the presidency. The author chronicles the forces that drove the Nixon White House to embark on an unprecedented domestic intelligence-gathering operation.

July-August – No Book Group

September 26, 2007
The Archeologist was a Spy: Sylvanus G. Morley and the Office of Naval Intelligence, by Charles H. Harris III and Louis R. Sadler. During the First World War, the German submarine forces were a serious threat to allied victory. If the Germans had been able to construct a secret base in some remote corner of Central America, the potential damage to shipping would have been immense. In order to avoid this happening, the Office of Navel Intelligence recruited archaeologists who spent most of the war years journeying through the Central American jungles and rivers in search of ancient ruins and preparing detailed reports on the potential for German exploitation of the remote sites. This book describes Morley’s extensive travels in Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

October 17, 2007
The Secret in Building 26: The Untold Story of America’s Ultra War Against the U-boat Enigma Codes, by Jim DeBrosse and Colin Burke. Much has been written about the success of the British “Ultra” program in cracking the Germans’ Enigma code early in World War II, but few know what happened in 1942, when the Germans added a fourth rotor to the machine that created the already challenging naval code and plunged Allied intelligence into darkness. Joe Desch, an engineer at the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio, was tasked with creating a machine to break the new Enigma settings - an enterprise that rivaled the Manhattan Project for secrecy and complexity, and nearly drove Desch to a breakdown.

November 14, 2007
Death of a Generation: How the Assassinations of Diem and JFK Prolonged the Vietnam War, by Howard Jones. What Kennedy would and would not have done in Vietnam has been a source of enduring controversy. Now, based on new evidence, the author argues that Kennedy intended to withdraw the great bulk of American soldiers and pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Vietnam. Jones maintains that Kennedy firmly believed that the outcome of the war depended on the South Vietnamese, and he argues that if Kennedy had lived, his withdrawal plan would have spared the lives of 58,000 Americans and countless Vietnamese.

December 2007 – No Book Group

# # #

For Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (202) 357-5300.

To verify the date and times of the programs, the public should call 202-357-5333 or view the Calendar of Events on the web site.


Top of Page

This page was last reviewed on January 30, 2013.
Contact us with questions or comments.