|Tuesday night is turning out to be substance night for the shows. Alas, I'm feeling quite substance-free tonight. So, short shrift. Sorry.
Jon's guest is Peter Mancall, a history/anthropology Professor at USC and the author of "The Art of Getting Drunk" in Colonial Massachusetts. But he's here to talk about his newest book, "Fatal Journey: The Final Expedition of Henry Hudson." I found the press release and a handful or so of reviews which aren't cut-and-pastes of said press release (some of them have intriguing tidbits, if you're the sort to be intrigued by such. As I am). Also the reviews from Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly. Here's the latter:
In April 1610, Henry Hudson set sail on the Discovery with a crew of 22 (including his 17-year-old son) on his fourth expedition in search of a shorter route to the Far East. USC historian Mancall (Hakluyt's Promise) vividly recreates the eager anticipation of the voyage, the lust for conquest and for spices, the voyage's risks and the joy and terrors that Hudson and his crew faced. But as winter approached, rather than return to England, Hudson set anchor in the bay named for him. Stuck in ice for seven months, their provisions dwindling, the crew mutinied in the spring, forcing Hudson, his son and seven other sailors into a skiff left floating in the bay. When the mariners on the Discovery returned to England without Hudson, they were tried for murder but never convicted. As for Hudson and the rest, their remains were never found and their fate is the stuff of legend. As Mancall so eloquently points out, the resolute will that had served Hudson so well in reaching this summit of exploration also made him unwilling to abandon his goal and led to his demise.
| Stephen's guest really deserves a closer look than I'm going to give her here. Leyman Gbowee and the women of Liberia were awarded the 2009 Profiles in Courage Award by the Kennedy Library Foundation:
After watching her native Liberia devolve into a decadelong civil war in which violence, rape, and murder became part of daily life, Leymah Gbowee brought together several dozen women to pray for peace. That effort launched a movement of ordinary Christian and Muslim women who rose up together to help put an end to Liberia’s civil war. Gbowee and her colleagues – among them, Janet Johnson Bryant, Vaiba Flomo, Yatta Moore, and Etty Weah – risked their lives to stop the cycle of violence and oppression that had kept dictators and warlords in power for decades. Their remarkable struggle for peace eventually paved the way for the election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to the presidency of Liberia – the first democratic election of a female head of state anywhere in Africa.
(Sirleaf was on with Jon not that long ago.) You'll get more details from Oprah and Bill Moyers, and GlobalFundForWomen.org -- have a box of kleenex nearby. She's also been featured in a documentary titled "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" (put together by Abigail Disney, granddaughter of. The Oprah piece talks about her). It's been doing the film festival thing (complete with awards), and Disney was recently in Bali doing screenings. RottenTomatoes has an assortment of reviews (100% Fresh, naturally), should you care to browse. Here's something from Mother Jones last month:
Most activists combat current threats to justice, but last Friday, at a private screening in San Francisco, the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell demanded activism by revealing an egregious historic omission: women's central role in the Liberian peace process....
The story goes like this: Since 1980 Liberia had been in and out of brutal civil wars, mainly between the leader of child-soldier battalions, Charles Taylor, elected president in 1995, and rebel groups. As fighting approached Monrovia in 2003, Leymah Gbowee began organizing women in her church and in neighboring Muslim communities to stage a protest. Eventually, there were two thousand women sitting for days outside Taylor's offices, holding signs demanding peace. When Taylor finally agreed to speak with them, Gbowee gave a statement requesting that he immediately engage in peace talks with the rebels. He conceded. Gbowee then sent two delegates to Sierra Leone to convince the Liberian warlords to come to the talks. Skeptical and unimpressed, they agreed.
As a hundred Liberian women sat outside the peace hall in Ghana, war raged back in Liberia. International media picked up on the talks when Sierra Leone indicted Taylor for war crimes. Taylor fled back to Liberia, leaving the warlords to plan a transitional government. The women had been sitting outside every day for six weeks when they got news that the American embassy in Monrovia had been hit by a missile, killing several members of their families. Spurred into action, Gbowee sent for reinforcements, and the women physically blocked the rebel leaders from leaving the hall before making progress.
Absolutely worth staying up until midnight to see.
(Wanna buy the books? Try indiebound or bookfinder.com.)