CITY OF SEDITION: The History of New York During the Civil War

With Author John Strausbaugh


The lecture starts at 6:30 P.M. – BOOK-SIGNING AND RECEPTION TO FOLLOW

In a talk, based on his enthralling new book, City of Sedition: The History of New York During the Civil War, author John Strausbaugh will detail the hugely conflicted role that New York City played in the Civil War. Mr. Strausbaugh will bring to life what it was like to live in New York City during this highly divisive and violent period. He describes how it was highly unlikely Abraham Lincoln would have made it to the White House without support from New York City. Yet, as he outlines in his book, the majority of New Yorkers never voted for him and were openly hostile to him and his politics.

In City of Sedition a gallery of fascinating New Yorkers comes to life, including: Horace Greeley, Walt Whitman, Julia Ward Howe, Boss Tweed, Thomas Nast, Matthew Brady and Herman Melville. The book follows the fortunes of these figures and chronicles how many New Yorkers seized the opportunities the conflict presented, laying the foundation for the City’s growth.

John Strausbaugh has been writing about the culture and history of New York City for a quarter of a century. The Village, his epic history of Greenwich Village, has been widely praised and was selected as one of Kirkus Review’s Best Books of 2013. City of Sedition has won the Civil War Roundtable of New York’s Fletcher Pratt award for best non_fiction book of 2016. It has also been optioned for television by the Weinstein Company.

“Strausbaugh weaves an ambitious and sprawling narrative while piecing together a crazy quilt of historical facts and fascinating anecdotes.” –The New York Times.

20 WEST 44th Street (BETWEEN 5TH AND 6th AVENUES), New York City

$15 General Admission; $10 General Society Members and Senior Citizens; $5 Students.
To register please click here

Advance registration is recommended.


Many of the recent Literature Lectures from the past 2016 Fall and Spring season can be viewed on our YouTube Channel)

The Red Bandanna with author Tom Rinaldi

A very special program took place on December 13th, 2016 – The Red Bandanna with Emmy-award winning ESPN correspondent Tom Rinaldi. Please click here to watch the video of this memorable evening.

When President Obama spoke at the dedication ceremony of the National September 11 Memorial Museum at Ground Zero, he decided to tell the story of one young man, whose heroic actions on 9/11 spoke to so many acts of bravery and sacrifice. A man, as survivors recounted, who led a group through the smoke and destruction of the South Tower down the only functional stairway and then, rather than exiting to safety, went back up to search for others he might rescue. “They didn’t know his name,” the president told those assembled, “They didn’t know where he came from. But they knew their lives had been saved by the man in the red bandanna.”

The New York Times Best Seller, The Red Bandanna by Emmy-award winning ESPN correspondent Tom Rinaldi tells the inspirational and moving story of Welles Remy Crowther—from the upbringing that shaped him to his courageous and selfless actions during the terror of 9/11.  It was a wonderful evening in tribute to the inspirational story of Welles Crowther. The author, Tom Rinaldi, was introduced by David Spampinato, Fordham University Journalism Student and WFUV Contributor.

Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover with Paul Buckley and Elda Rotor

On Tuesday September 27th, at 6.30pm, a special program celebrated the 70th Anniversary of Penguin Classics with Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover with Senior Vice President and Executive Creative Director, Paul Buckley and Elda Rotor, Vice President and Publisher of Penguin Classics.

During this special program Mr. Buckley and Ms. Rotor provided a visual overview of the innovative covers that have put Penguin Classics at the forefront of the book design world. They discussed how since the launch of Penguin Classics in 1946, innovative cover design has been one of its defining aspects. Today, Penguin Classics remains at the leading edge of the book-design world. In Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover, Mr Buckley and Ms. Rotor provided a curated tour of Penguin Classics’ recent art design history, beginning with the now-iconic redesign of the signature Penguin Classics black-spine series in 2003 and moving through award-winning series like the Penguin Classics Graphic Deluxe Editions, Penguin Drop Caps, and Penguin Horror, to new series such as Penguin Galaxy and the Penguin Orange Collection.

These programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

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Literature Lectures 2015/16

Please scroll down to see our Literature Lectures from the past 2015/2016 season – many of these lectures can be viewed on our YouTube Channel)


Our first literature lecture  featured on November 24th, Literary scholar and cultural historian Shelley Fisher Fishkin will discuss her acclaimed new book Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee. Published on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Historic Preservation Act, Writing America is a unique, passionate, and eclectic series of meditations on literature and history, covering over 150 important National Register historic sites, all pivotal to the stories that make up America, from chapels to battlefields; from plantations to immigration stations; and from theaters to internment camps.


Against the back drop of the General Society’s Lock Collection, Geoff Manaugh and Robert Krulwich discussed on Tuesday, April 5th, Mr. Manaugh’s newly published book, A Burglar’s Guide to the City. In the book, Geoff Manaugh takes us on a tour of our built environment—from the micro (think of a single cylinder lock) to the macro (an entire grid of city streets, sewers, and subway tunnels), and everything in between—as seen from the perspective of those who wish to infiltrate it for criminal ends, and those tasked with stopping them.

Terry Ballard on Friday May 13th presented a program based on his book “Fifty Specialty Libraries of New York City: From Botany to Magic.” This celebration of some of the City’s cultural treasures will feature a host of specialty libraries that have grown up around the rich intellectual and cultural life of New York. Some of the wide range of libraries included are: genealogical libraries; foreign language libraries; a library about dogs, a library devoted to fiction; a library on the work of Carl Jung; as well as libraries that cover the paranormal, botanical subjects and magical arts.

Tuesday June 28th at 6.30pm —The Bowery Boys: Adventures in Old New York, Followed by book-signing and reception

9781612435572How much do you really know about NYC’s history? Introducing  a special program celebrating the launch of The Bowery Boys: Adventures in Old New York, the official companion book to the No. 1 travel podcast that offers an unconventional exploration of Manhattan’s historic neighborhoods, secret spots and colorful characters. The Bowery Boys  – Greg Young and Tom Meyers – will be here to discuss among other things,”Top Ten Hidden Secrets” of New York.

The General Society Library
20 WEST 44th Street (BETWEEN 5TH AND 6th AVENUES), New York City

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

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