May 15th 2022

NOTE: This program will take place at the Chicago Cultural Center. No advance registration required.

Learn more about the American Writers Festival here:

In this Newberry-sponsored Festival event, prize-winning historian Deborah Cohen, in conversation with Newberry President Daniel Greene, will discuss her new book, Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took On a World at War, the extraordinary story of John Gunther, H. R. Knickerbocker, Vincent Sheean, and Dorothy Thompson.

During the 1920s this astonishing group of cub reporters roamed across a war-ravaged world, sometimes perched atop mules on wooden saddles, sometimes gliding through countries in the splendor of a first-class sleeper car. While empires collapsed and fledgling democracies faltered, they chased deposed empresses, international financiers, and Balkan gun-runners, and then knocked back doubles late into the night. In those tumultuous years, they landed exclusive interviews with Hitler and Mussolini, Nehru and Gandhi, and helped shape what Americans knew about the world. Alongside these backstage glimpses into the halls of power, they left another equally incredible set of records. Living in the heady afterglow of Freud, they subjected themselves to frank, critical scrutiny and argued about love, war, sex, death, and everything in between. Told with the immediacy of a conversation overheard, this revelatory book captures how the global upheavals of the twentieth century felt up close.

Deborah Cohen is Richard W. Leopold Professor of History at Northwestern University.

Daniel Greene is President and Librarian of the Newberry Library.

On May 15, 2022, the American Writers Museum will launch the first ever American Writers Festival in Chicago. This one-day event will take place on multiple venue stages, including the American Writers Museum and four stages at the Chicago Cultural Center downtown. The festival will feature more than 75 beloved contemporary authors, artists, and playwrights, who will address their perspectives on many of today’s most timely and controversial topics including immigration, book censorship, racism, and equality through themes within their literature.

This program is free and open to all, with no advance registration required.

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