December 23, 2016 — When Minneota, Minn., poet, author and musician Bill Holm sat down to write a Christmas letter, he sorted through a lifetime of memories. He was born in 1943 and died in 2009 at the age of 65.Holm put some of these memories in a book he wrote in 1997 called "Faces of Christmas Past."That same year Minnesota Public Radio produced the "Voices of Minnesota" special, with Bill Holm reading from his own book.It also included some music, a Christmas ghost story from Iceland and a little holiday philosophy from Bill Holm.Holm is perhaps best known for "Faces of Christmas Past," "The Music of Failure," "Windows of Brimnes," and "The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere on Earth." Though he also wrote many other books."Faces of Christmas Past" was published by the Afton Historical Society Press. The "Voices of Minnesota" series was produced by Dan Olson. Gary Eichten's voice is also heard.
December 22, 2016 — Andrew Carnegie, the 19th century Pittsburgh industrialist, was one of the richest Americans ever, and also a benevolent civic patron. Nasaw, a self-described "lunatic researcher," wrote a biography simply titled "Andrew Carnegie." Early in December he shared what he learned at the Minnesota Historical Society's History Forum in St. Paul.Carnegie is credited with leading the steel industry expansion in the United States, persuading manufacturing companies to switch from iron to steel, which was more expensive but more durable. Carnegie operated the companies that built new infrastructure as well as the companies that provided the supplies, Nasaw said, and "that's why Mark Twain calls this a gilded age of corruption." In 1900, Carnegie sold his steel manufacturing company to turn to philanthropy full time, announcing he would give away all of his wealth. "And he gives it away in huge quantities," Nasaw said. "Now the question is, why?" Some historians say it was because he felt guilty for contributing to the harsh working conditions for steel workers."And then I read his prenuptial," Nasaw said. Written long before working conditions deteriorated at Carnegie's steel plants, the prenuptial agreement stated that his wife, Louise Whitfield Carnegie, would get an allowance” but would receive nothing when he died, because he had already decided to give it away."Why did he do it? Because Andrew Carnegie above everything else was a thinker, a social philosopher, an observer of the world around him, and it was his self-assigned task in life to figure out what it meant," Nasaw said. "It" being the great deal of wealth he had accumulated in his life. Carnegie concluded it was because he was best suited to give it back to the workers, in the form of things he thought they needed” like building a library instead of raising their pay” something he openly admitted to during a speech at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
May 17, 2016 — Louise Erdrich's fifteenth novel opens with a brutal tragedy: A man shoots and kills his best friend's five-year-old son in a hunting accident.The law holds no one at fault, but the man and his wife can't escape the weight of the death. They do the only thing that seems right to them: They give their own son, LaRose, to the bereaved couple: "Our son will be your son now."
March 17, 2016 — Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential biographer Jon Meacham has written about Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, and his new book is about President George H.W. Bush. Meacham says he writes biography rather than history, because history is shaped by individuals who, despite their flaws, do the right thing in moments of crisis.Meacham spoke March 11, 2016 at the Pen Pals Lecture series sponsored by the Friends of the Hennepin County Library. His book is titled, "Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush."
January 8, 2016 — A discussion about the future of theater. Four of the longstanding Twin Cities theaters have new artistic directors and this hour they talk about the challenges they face in bringing plays to the small number of adults who want to attend live theater.
September 24, 2015 — Penumbra Theater co-artistic director Sarah Bellamy moderated the discussion, "On The Front Lines," featuring University of St. Thomas professor and the president of the Minneapolis Chapter of the NAACP Nekima Levy-Pounds, Metro Transit Police chief and former State Senator John Harrington, artist and activist Signe Harriday and consultant Dave Ellis.
August 28, 2015 — Tom Scheck talks politics, Mark Seeley talks weather and Kevin Kling tells a Minnesota State Fair story.
July 29, 2015 — Award-winning author Alexs Pate discusses how his experiences as an African-American man influence his writing and move him to explore themes of guilt and innocence — along with hope and bitterness. Pate is the author of five novels, including the best-selling "Amistad." He spoke in July with fellow author and poet David Mura at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.
April 15, 2015 — A look back at how Minnesotans experienced the war and its aftermath through stories and song. "Civil War Homecoming" was presented at the Fitzgerald Theater to mark the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.
April 15, 2015 — Today marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. And this year is also the sesquicentennial of the end of the Civil War, which raged from 1861 to '65. Some 24-thousand Minnesotans were soldiers in the Civil War- a war that profoundly changed the nation and the state.