Join the conversation! Yale Library launches the spring 2023 Book Talks

  • Four book covers: from left to right, a white cover with black type reading The Other Side of Prospect; a beige cover with red type reading The War on Music; a grey cover with white type reading Hell Bent; a black cover with yellow type reading The Madman in the White House with a silhouetted photo of Woodrow Wilson's face and black hat
January 19, 2023

In its ongoing series Book Talks, Yale Library will each month invite an acclaimed author to discuss a newly released book of fiction or nonfiction. The topics this season are wide-ranging: the behind-the-scenes story of a 2006 New Haven tragedy, the effects of World War II on classical music and the era’s great composers, the secret and dark history of Yale’s senior societies, and a Freudian “psychobiography” of President Woodrow Wilson.

Yale Library Book Talks will focus on the research and writing process of Yale faculty, alumni, and other authors who have worked with Yale Library collections. All events are free and open to the public and will be held in the lecture hall at Sterling Memorial Library. 

Feb. 1 (4 p.m.)
The Other Side of Prospect: A Story of Violence, Injustice, and the American City” 

Nicholas Dawidoff, a New Haven native, spent eight years investigating the city’s imprisonment of a sixteen-year-old accused of murder and the forces in play that led to the wrongful conviction. Dawidoff is the author of six books, including “The Catcher Was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg” and “In the Country of a Country: A Journey to the Roots of American Music.” He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and has also been a Guggenheim Fellow, Berlin Prize Fellow, and Art for Justice Fellow. Dawidoff will be in conversation with Michael Morand, director of community engagement at the Beinecke Library.

March 8 (4 p.m.)
The War on Music: Reclaiming the Twentieth Century” 

John Mauceri (’67)—conductor, music scholar, and award-winning recording artist—has long been a champion of forgotten composers and underrepresented musical works. He also served as musical advisor to the 2022 film Tár, which has been nominated for six Academy Awards. In his new book, Mauceri explores the links between politics and the repression of musical innovation in Germany, Italy, and Russia during World War II, the rise of experimental music in the West during the Cold War, and the subsequent repression of nonexperimental music. Mauceri, conductor of many of the world’s greatest orchestras, opera companies, and Broadway and Hollywood productions, taught at Yale from 1968 to 1984 and directed the Yale Symphony Orchestra from 1968 to 1975. The author will be available to sign copies of books that have been purchased in advance. Books will not be sold at the event.

April 15 (1 p.m.)
“Ninth House” and “Hell Bent” by Leigh Bardugo

Additional information and registration details to come.

May 10 (4 p.m.)
The Madman in the White House: Sigmund Freud, Ambassador Bullitt, and the Lost Psychobiography of Woodrow Wilson” 

Patrick Weil—Oscar M. Ruebhausen Distinguished Fellow at Yale Law School—tells the story of a long-hidden psychobiography of President Woodrow Wilson, co-authored in 1932 by William Bullitt, a prominent U.S. diplomat, and Sigmund Freud, the “father of psychoanalysis.” The controversial book was published in 1966 in a heavily redacted edition. Weil discovered the original manuscript in 2014 while working in the William C. Bullitt papers in Yale’s archives. In his book, Weil explores the significance of that manuscript—which questions the president’s state of mind after his handling of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles—and the potential and potentially dangerous influence of a single individual on world history.

—Deborah Cannarella