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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Great Music and More at Tanglewood, Sevenars, Berkshire High Peaks Festival

By Stephen DanknerGuest Column

As Tanglewood enters its third week, stellar performances will take center stage in Ozawa Hall and in the Koussevitsky Shed. Why go? To experience world-class instrumental soloists, the Boston Symphony and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra perform chamber and orchestral masterworks by iconic masters Schumann, Brahms, Ravel, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Debussy, Gershwin, Stravinsky, Wagner and Tchaikovsky.

Add to the above an inspiring world premiere featuring Metropolitan Opera diva Reneé Fleming, baritone Rod Gilfry, and the Boston Symphony, led by maestro Andris Nelsons in composer Kevin Puts' orchestral song cycle "The Brightness of Light." The powerful and deeply moving "Enigma" Variations of Edward Elgar will precede this extraordinary performance.

And, if the offerings at Tanglewood aren't enough to pique your musical interest, there are also outstanding performances to be enjoyed at the Sevenars Music Festival in South Worthington, Mass., and at the Berkshire High Peaks Music Festival, presented by Close Encounters With Music in Great Barrington, Mass., in a series of concerts from July 23 through Aug. 2. All three venues present great music performed in acoustically resonant settings by marvelous performers. Read below for all the details.


On Friday, July 19, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will present its first-ever free community event on the Pittsfield Common. "Tanglewood in the City: Pittsfield" is a live video transmission of the BSO's concert at Tanglewood that will bring Tanglewood into the Pittsfield community and share one of the festival's major performances with a wider group of Berkshire residents. The performance, which will be transmitted onto a 15-foot by 27-foot screen on the Pittsfield Common, will begin with welcoming comments from a BSO musician and feature BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons leading the orchestra in music of Betsy Jolas, Debussy and Ravel, as well as Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with soloist Gautier Capuçon.

The Pittsfield event is inspired by the popular Boston edition of "Tanglewood in the City." Now in its fourth year, this year's "Tanglewood in the City: Boston" event takes place on the Boston Common, also on Friday, July 19.

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