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.
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."
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.
July 3, 2013 — On the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battle at Gettysburg, Richard Moe speaks to a sold-out Minnesota Historical Society event about his book, "The Last Full Measure: The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers." Guest: Richard Moe: President emeritus, National Trust for Historic Preservation. Former chief of staff to Vice President Walter Mondale. Author of "The Last Full Measure: The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers." Forthcoming book about FDR's 1940 presidential election.
June 7, 2013 — Best-selling writer Dennis Lehane, speaking in Hopkins, Minnesota as part of Hennepin County Library's Pen Pals Author Lecture Series. Three of his books have been made into Hollywood movies. Lehane says he writes fiction because he always loved to read and he comes from a long line of Boston Irish storytellers.
March 8, 2013 — Minnesota author Louise Erdrich speaks at Concordia University in St. Paul about her National Book Award-winning book, "The Roundhouse," and her love of writing.
January 31, 2013 — Arthur Phillips speaks in Hopkins at the Pen Pals Lecture Series about his latest best-selling book, "The Tragedy of Arthur," a contemporary novel that contains an Elizabethan play.
January 4, 2013 — Journalist and humor writer Calvin Trillin speaks in Minneapolis at the Talk of the Stacks series about his new book "Dogfight: An Occasionally Interrupted Narrative Poem About the Presidential Campaign."
November 28, 2012 — Salman Rushdie delivers a Pen Pals Lecture in Hopkins about his memoir and his nine years living with death threats and a fatwa issued upon the publication of his novel, 'The Satanic Verses.' He lived under the pseudonym Joseph Anton.
August 22, 2012 — Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, who died in June 2012, giving a Pen Pals lecture in the Minnesota back in 2000 about the influences on his life and work. He was born Aug. 22, 1920.