Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Clay Risen

The City of Lights—and Annoyances

For Rosecrans Baldwin, living in Paris wasn’t exactly everything he’d dreamed it would be

September 14, 2012 Rosecrans Baldwin was a budding writer in New York when, in 2007, he moved with his wife to Paris for a job in advertising. Like many Americans, Baldwin had a romantic vision of what his Paris life would be like; what it was actually like, from the bad coffee to the bad fashion to the bad manners—not to mention countless absurdly beautiful, and beautifully absurd, moments in between—forms the basis of his second book, Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down. He will at the twenty-fourth annual Southern Festival of Books, held October 12-14 at Legislative Plaza in Nashville. All events are free and open to the public.

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A Bottomless Well of Inspiration

Historian Adam Goodheart explains why the Civil War is like both The Iliad and the Bible

In his book 1861: The Civil War Awakening, historian and journalist Adam Goodheart presents what he calls a “pointillist” picture of a country on the brink of self-destruction. Through a series of profiles and stories, Goodheart demonstrates how America was both gearing up for an epic conflict and coming to grips with the horror that lay before it—and all the while slowly realizing that whatever happened, it would change the nation forever. He spoke with Chapter 16 by phone prior to his forthcoming appearance at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville.

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Night-Riders Redux

Knoxville historian Kelly J. Baker examines the religious underpinnings of the Klan’s reemergence in the twentieth century

August 3, 2012 During the nineteenth century, the Ku Klux Klan (founded in Pulaski, Tennessee, after the Civil War) had quickly been suppressed, only to reappear and spread with surprising virulence in 1915. How, asks Kelly J. Baker, a lecturer in religious and American studies at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and author of Gospel According to the Klan, did an organization we find so reprehensible today come to occupy a place so close to the center of the American mainstream?

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More than most writers, William was about one particular place, that clump of Middle Tennessee where he was born and raised, where he’d written, and written, and written, always to be rejected, until his breakthrough, late in life

February 29, 2012 I once asked William Gay what it was like to be a famous author in a small town like Hohenwald. Did his neighbors come around at odd hours, bug him for autographs? He said, “This woman asked if I had someone who helped me with my writing. I said, ‘What do you mean by that?’ And she said, ‘Well, I knew your family a long time, and they’re not that smart. I knew you when you were younger, and you’re not that smart. I was wondering if you had somebody who took out the little words and put in the big words.’”

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An All-American Movement

Charles Euchner captures the moment when white America began to understand the justice of civil rights

July 25, 2011 Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 March on Washington, is widely considered among the greatest speeches in American history and a high point of the civil-rights movement. But its deserved fame has long obscured the hundreds of thousands of people who also participated in the march: black teenagers from Alabama, white ministers from Kansas, celebrities from Hollywood, and activists from Harlem, all of them gathered in a peaceful demonstration for equal rights unlike anything ever seen in America. In Nobody Turn Me Around: A People’s History of the 1963 March on Washington, newly out in paperback, Charles Euchner, a Chattanooga native and graduate of Vanderbilt University, has written the story of that day from the perspective of these important, if anonymous, participants in the march. Chapter 16 recently spoke with him by phone.

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"A Horde of Criminals and Cowards"

In Erik Larson’s new book, the U.S. ambassador tells the truth about Hitler’s Germany—even if Roosevelt doesn’t want to hear it

May 4, 2011 In 1933, by the time William Dodd arrived in Berlin with his wife and two grown children, the country he had loved as a university student was almost completely gone. As was the case with most foreign observers in the early days of Hitler’s Germany, it was not immediately obvious to Dodd that anything was amiss, but as Erik Larson demonstrates in his captivating new book, Dodd would spend his four-year term as ambassador trying to figure out what had gone wrong. Larson will discuss and sign In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin at the Nashville Public Library on May 10 at 6:15 p.m. as part of the Salon@615 series.

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