Civil War Historian To Deliver American Masters Lecture


James McPherson, Author of Battle Cry of Freedom

Tickets Now Available


James McPherson, a historian who won the Pulitzer Prize for his comprehensive one-volume history of the Civil War, Battle Cry of Freedom, will deliver the Lackawanna County Library System’s 2015 American Masters Lecture at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 5 at the Scranton Cultural Center.


McPherson is the author of some twenty books and the editor of another ten. Most, like Battle Cry, are about the era of the American Civil War. His most recent book, published in 2015, is The War That Forged a Nation: Why the Civil War Still Matters.


“The Civil War does still matter, as was made apparent by recent events in this country,” said Mary Garm, Library System Administrator. “Dr. McPherson understands that better than any American, having spent his entire professional life studying it and writing about it.”


Born in North Dakota, McPherson grew up in Minnesota, where he graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1958. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in history from Johns Hopkins University. For more than 40 years he taught at Princeton University, where he is the George Henry Davis ’86 Professor of American History Emeritus.


His books have won several prizes, most notably the Pulitzer Prize in History (1989) for Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, and two Lincoln Prizes (1998 and 2009) for For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War and Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief.


He has served as president of both the Society of American Historians and The American Historical Association. He is an elected member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, founded respectively by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. In 2007 he was awarded the first Pritzker Prize for lifetime achievement in military writing.


The title of Dr. McPherson’s talk in Scranton will be “Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and the End of the Civil War.”


“It will discuss the various efforts to bring about peace negotiations to end the Civil War in 1864 and 1865 and their failure,” he said, because “the war could end only with unconditional victory or unconditional surrender by one side or the other.”


The American Masters Lecture is part of the Library System’s Matthew F. Flynn Library Lecture Series. It was established by a group of community-minded individuals who wanted to support the tradition of presenting important speakers in Lackawanna County.


Previous American Masters Lecture speakers have been author, journalist and film maker Sebastian Junger, author, actress, social critic and humorist Fran Lebowitz, theoretical physicist and futurist Michio Kaku, undersea explorer and Titanic discoverer Robert Ballard, and the late Congressman Charles Wilson, subject of the motion picture “Charlie Wilson’s War.” Last year’s speaker was legendary Dallas Cowboy running back Emmitt Smith.


Ongoing funding for the Lecture Series is provided by the Lackawanna County Office of Arts and Culture. It is part of the art, literature and performance collaboration of the Lackawanna County Library System, the Scranton Cultural Center and the Everhart Museum.


Tickets are now available for the event. They can be obtained by showing a library card at any Lackawanna County Library System library or the Scranton Cultural Center box office.

Tickets can also be reserved online.

Group tickets are available for history classes, groups and organizations. Contact any Lackawanna County Library for details or call 570-348-3003.


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