Award-Winning Journalist, Historian to Lecture at Ventfort Hall

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Evan Thomas, Image courtesy Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum
LENOX, Mass. — Known nationally and internationally as one of the most respected award-winning journalists and historians writing today, Newsweek's Editor-at-Large Evan Thomas will appear at Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum on Wednesday, July 28, as part of its 2010 Summer Lecture Series. He will discuss the subject of his new book, "The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898." Thomas will be on hand to autograph copies during the subsequent Victorian Tea.

On Feb. 15, 1898, the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor. Although there was no evidence that the Spanish were responsible, newspapers such as William Randolph Heart's New York Journal whipped up American support by claiming that Spain's "secret infernal machine" had destroyed the battleship. Soon after President William McKinley declared war, sending troops not only to Cuba but also to the Philippines, then Spain's sprawling Pacific colony.

Thomas's book is the story of six men at the center of this transforming event in American history, the Spanish-American War. The main characters are the two principal supporters of the war, Theodore Roosevelt and his friend, Henry Cabot Lodge; the sensationalist newspaperman Hearst; the equivocating President McKinley; the two antiwar advocates, the philosopher William James, Roosevelt’s teacher at Harvard, and Speaker of the House Thomas Reed.

Thomas notes in his introduction, the book is about Roosevelt and a distant war, but it is also a book about the run-up to the current war in Iraq – at times almost a sinister mirror. It would be in the Spanish-AmericanWar that America would take its imperial ambitions overseas.

Historian Michael Beschloss states "Evan Thomas is a national resource, and this utterly compelling book reminds us why," while historian Jon Meacham writes "No biographer at work today has a surer feel for the human dimension of history than Evan Thomas. In this remarkable and original work, he has painted a portrait of a world at once remote and immediate, describing with grace and skill the conflicting passions and politics that created American imperialism."

Two of Thomas’s previous titles were New York Times bestsellers: Sea of Thunder and John Paul Jones. As Newsweek's editor-at-large, Thomas is the magazine's lead writer on major news events and the author of more than a hundred cover stories. He has won numerous journalism awards, including a National Magazine Award in 1998 for Newsweek's coverage of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In 2005, his 50,000-word narrative of the 2004 election was honored when Newsweek won a National Magazine Award for the best single-topic issue. He appears regularly all the major television news shows, including  "Inside Washington" "Meet the Press," "TODAY," "Face the Nation," "Nightline," "Good Morning America," "Larry King Live," "Charlie Rose," and "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer." Thomas has been visiting professor at both Harvard and Princeton Universities, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow of the Society of American Historians.

Tickets for Evan Thomas's lecture are $16 per person for nonmembers and $14 per person for members. For reservations and further information call 413-637-3206 or click on to Ventfort Hall is located at 104 Walker St.

This program is supported in part by grants from the Alford-Egremont Cultural Council, the Richmond Cultural Council, the Sandisfield Cultural Council, the Sheffield Cultural Council and the West Stockbridge Cultural Council, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

An Official Project of Save America’s Treasures, Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum offers tours of the historic mansion, as well as lectures, concerts, teas, theater and other programs. This elegant Jacobean-Revival Berkshire “cottage,” listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is open to the public year-around and is available for private rental. Built in 1893 for George and Sarah Morgan (sister of the financier, J. P. Morgan), Ventfort Hall has undergone substantial restoration, which continues.

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