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Lecture: "History with a Pulse"

Posted by St. John's College on October 13, 2007

News & Publications: Santa Fe

Speaking Volumes Lecture: "History with a Pulse"

WHAT:   St. John’s College “Speaking Volumes” Lecture Series

 “History with a Pulse” – Lecture, Reception and Booksigning

WHO:    Hampton Sides, author of bestselling books Ghost Soldiers and Blood and Thunder

WHEN: Tuesday, November 13, 2007, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Great Hall, Peterson Student Center

CONTACT:  Jenny Hannifin, tel 505-984-6104 (after hours, switchboard 984-6000)


Bestselling historian Hampton Sides discusses the craft of narrative non-fiction, and the vitally important but seldom practiced art of keeping readers of history . . . awake! The worst kind of history, Sides contends, is history that no one reads because it’s so deadly dull. Historical writing, as traditionally taught and practiced in university settings, has a well-deserved reputation for being arid, legalistic, polemical, and tone-deaf on the page. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Considering his own books Ghost Soldiers and Blood and Thunder within the larger tradition of popular narrative history, Sides will look at ways in which writers can enliven their historical writing by employing techniques adapted from journalism, fiction, classical literature, and even cinema. “I love great history, more than any other genre,” Sides says, “but these days too many historical works read like legal briefs. It’s time to put the ‘story’ back in ‘history,’ and give the discipline a much-needed shot in the arm.”

Hampton Sides is the author of the bestselling books Ghost Soldiers and Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West, among other books. Ghost Soldiers has sold more than a million copies and has been translated into a dozen foreign languages. It won the 2002 PEN USA West award for non-fiction and the 2002 Discover Award from Barnes & Noble, and was the basis of the Miramax film, The Great RaidBlood and Thunder, published last October and now out in paperback, was a New York Times bestseller, has been optioned by Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks, and will be the subject of an installment of the PBS documentary series American Experience this winter. An editor-at-large at Outsidemagazine, Hampton’s journalism has been twice nominated for National Magazine Awards for feature writing. A graduate of Yale with a B.A. in history, he lives here in Santa Fe with his wife Anne and their three boys.

After twenty minutes for questions and answers, a reception and book signing will follow in the Junior Common Room. This lecture is sponsored by the St. John’s College Library & Fine Arts Guild.