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  • NYS Writers Institute

Book Festival events of special interest for fans of history, journalism, and psychology

Just days away from Saturday's Albany Book Festival,

we're finalizing plans for the author discussions and events.

Our Director Paul Grondahl and Assistant Director Mark Koplik will each host a pair of talks, and we're delighted to share news of more conversation hosts below...

Also, we encourage you to attend the special ceremony Friday for the installation of the State Author Ayad Akhtar and NYS Poet Willie Perdomo.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras will preside over the event and many of the featured authors from Saturday's book festival plan to attend. Join us 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, at the University at Albany’s Campus Center West Auditorium. Free and open to the public. More information.

Nathaniel Philbrick in conversation with Paul Grondahl

Nathaniel Philbrick

10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 25

Campus Center West Auditorium

Nathaniel Philbrick, author of bestselling page-turners of maritime history, received the 2000 National Book Award for In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, the true story of the whaling disaster that inspired Melville’s Moby Dick. His new book is Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy (2021), an entertaining account of a road trip that retraces Washington’s journey through all 13 colonies.

Peter Osnos in conversation with Paul Grondahl

Peter Osnos

12:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25

Campus Center Boardroom

Peter Osnos is the author of An Especially Good View: Watching History Happen (2021), a memoir of his legendary career as a foreign correspondent and editor at the Washington Post (1966-1984), and as editor and publisher at Random House and PublicAffairs, which he founded in 1997. During his long career, Osnos worked on books with Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Nancy Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Boris Yeltsin, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and many others.

David Rohde in conversation with Mark Koplik

David Rohde

1:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25

Campus Center Assembly Hall

David Rohde, journalist, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and online news director for the New Yorker, spent seven months as a captive of the Taliban in Afghanistan before escaping in June 2009, an experience he chronicles in the book, A Rope and a Prayer: A Kidnapping from Two Sides (2010). His new book is In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth about America's "Deep State" (2021), an illuminating history of a rightwing conspiracy theory—the “Deep State”— and its dangers to democracy.

George Makari in conversation with Mark Koplik

George Makari

3:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25

Campus Center Assembly Hall

George Makari's new book is Of Fear and Strangers: A History of Xenophobia (2021). Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and the son of Lebanese immigrants, Makari draws on insights from psychology, medicine, history, literature and his own family experience. Previous works include Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind (2015), a Guardian "Book of the Year," and Revolution in Mind: The Creation of Psychoanalysis (2008), which The Economist called “electrifying.”

Simon Winchester in conversation with Kendra Smith-Howard

Simon Winchester, author of LAND: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World

3:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25

Campus Center West Auditorium

Simon Winchester is widely hailed as one of the best nonfiction storytellers presently at work. His many books of popular history include The Professor and the Madman (1998), The Map That Changed the World (2001), Krakatoa (2003), Atlantic (2010), and Pacific (2015). His new book is LAND: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World (2021), “an entertaining and erudite roundup of humanity’s ever-evolving relationship with terra firma” (Publishers Weekly).

Kendra Smith-Howard is associate professor of history at the University at Albany, where she writes and teaches about the intersections of histories of the environment, agriculture, health, and consumer culture. Her 2013 book Pure and Modern Milk explores the 20th-century history of dairy foods and the farms from which they came.

David Pietrusza in conversation with Reif Larsen

3:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25

Campus Center Boardroom

David Pietrusza, notable American historian, biographer and chronicler of U.S. Presidential campaigns, is the author most recently of Too Long Ago (2020), a memoir of his childhood and his family’s experiences in the Rust Belt city of Amsterdam, NY. An Amazon New Releases Best Seller, the book brings to life a tight-knit Polish community, transplanted from tiny, impoverished villages to a hardscrabble, hardworking, hard-drinking upstate New York mill town.

Reif Larsen is the founder of The Future of Small Cities Institute, an organization based in Troy that cultivates resilient communities by offering just and sustainable solutions for small and mid-sized metro areas. Larsen's bestselling 2009 novel, The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet, was adapted as a 2013 movie starring Kathy Bates and Helena Bonham-Carter. He is the coauthor of the new children's book, Uma Wimple Charts Her House (2021), a fun and creative introduction to the art of data visualization.

Want to buy the books?

Books will be for sale -- and signing --- at the book festival. You may also purchase them in advance at the local, independent