Clementine Churchill

Bestselling author Marie Benedict likes to focus her books on the lives of women whose stories have been overlooked or underappreciated. Her latest book, Lady Clementine (Sourcebooks Landmark, 2020), looks at Clementine Churchill, the influential wife of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who refused to surrender to expectations or to enemies. Benedict is a Boston College graduate and author of several books, including The Only Woman in the Room, a novel about Hedy Lamarr that was chosen as a Barnes & Noble Book Club selection. Read more in a Q&A with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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Lincoln’s Second Inauguration

Award-winning writer and Boston College alumnus Edward Achorn focuses on a critical conjuncture in American history in his new book, Every Drop of Blood: The Momentous Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln (Atlantic Monthly Press/Grove Atlantic, 2020). He depicts the various characters, from wounded Union colonel Selden Connor to Walt Whitman, Clara Barton, and Frederick Douglass, who converge on the nation’s capital for Lincoln’s second inauguration and heard “perhaps the greatest inaugural address” in the country’s history. In a 701-word speech, Lincoln that said that both the North and South had been wrong, and that the Civil War’s unimaginable horrors―every drop of blood spilled―might well have been God’s just verdict on the national sin of slavery. Achorn is a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Distinguished Commentary and the editorial pages editor of The Providence Journal. His previous books are Fifty-Nine in ’84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had and The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America’s Game. Read more in The Economist

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A refugee’s story of coming to America

Abdi Nor Iftin survived a childhood in war-torn Mogadishu, Somalia, was threatened by terrorists, and spent years as a refugee in Kenya. He chronicled his journey from violence and trauma to freedom in the United States in his memoir, Call Me American (Vintage/Penguin Random House, 2018). He’s now a student in the Woods College of Advancing Studies and recently became a U.S. citizen. Read an interview with Iftin in The Boston College Chronicle.

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A historical look at a case of violence

A new book by Boston College Associate Professor of History Sylvia Sellers-García opens with a disturbing account of events that occurred one morning in Guatemala City in the summer of 1800. A surveyor and mapmaker opens his study window to find a pair of severed breasts resting on a lily pad on his windowsill. In The Woman on the Windowsill: A Tale of Mystery in Several Parts (Yale University Press, 2020), Sellers-García not only offers an engaging criminal case study, but also traces how this event became a watershed moment in Guatemalan history that radically changed the nature of justice and the established social order. According to Sellers-García, this case increased attention to crime that resulted in more forceful policing and reflected important policy decisions not only in Guatemala but across Latin America.

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Mae Ngai

Historian Mae M. Ngai, who studies questions of immigration, citizenship, and nationalism, will present “The Chinese Question, the Gold Rushes and Global Politics” — the focus of her forthcoming book — on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. in Gasson Hall, room 100. Ngai is the author of The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America and the award-winning Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Ngai has written for the Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times, among other outlets. Her upcoming book is a study of Chinese gold miners and racial politics in 19th-century California, Australia, and South Africa. Ngai is the Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History at Columbia University. Ngai’s appearance is presented by the Lowell Humanities Series and co-sponsored by the History Department.

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Nini loves ballet. But when Nini’s mom signs her up for baseball, she is less than happy. In the new picture book Balletball (Charlesbridge, 2020), Nini eventually comes to see that ballet and baseball have more in common than she originally thought–especially when her ballet skills help her make an important catch in the outfield. Balletball is written by Boston College alumna Erin Dionne and illustrated by Gillian Flint. Dionne is the author of several books for young children and middle school readers, including Captain’s Log: Snowbound and Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking.

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Louise Imogen Guiney

Louise Imogen Guiney (1861-1920), an American poet and essayist with ties to 19th-century Boston literary circles, is the subject of a retrospective exhibition at John J. Burns Library, on display through May 29. “Devoted Catholic & Determined Writer: Louise Imogen Guiney in Boston” focuses on Guiney’s relationships with Catholic religious leaders, fellow writers, and publishers in Boston. She wrote poetry, and later, stories and biographical essays. Her choice of subjects was informed by her Catholic beliefs, admiration for Jesuits, and sojourns in Ireland and England. Guiney may have faded from the canon, yet she continues to offer a unique window into the multifaceted literary establishment of late 19th-century Boston, according to exhibition curator Barbara Adams Hebard, conservator at Burns Library, who notes that Guiney is one of only two women represented in Bapst Library’s stained glass portraits of American authors.

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