Noon Programs

The Monday series of talks, sponsored by the Friends of the Library,  are held at noon in the McChesney Room of the Central Library on Clinton Street. You may bring a bag lunch; coffee and tea are available for a nominal fee. The room is equipped with special devices for the hearing-impaired. These programs are also broadcast on the Schenectady Public Access channel.

Geri Mulligan, Coordinator


September 9: Leonardo da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson, presented by Rob Dickson, Schenectady County Public Library’s most-frequently-requested reviewer. Leonardo, one of the most gifted and inventive men in history, had the ability to make connections across disciplines. He felt that experience and curiosity were what counted. Isaacson’s premise is that Leonardo’s technological and scientific interests nourished his art, and anticipated the discoveries of Galileo and Newton. The book is intelligently organized, simply written, and nicely illustrated, and ends with a suggested mind-improvement program for us that is based on Leonardo’s creative life.

September 16: TR’s Last War: Theodore Roosevelt, the Great War, and a Journey of Triumph and Tragedy, reviewed by the author, acclaimed historian David Pietrusza. Pietrusza chronicles Roosevelt’s final years, as the former president relentlessly pushed for America to prepare militarily for World War I, under the presidency of an indecisive Woodrow Wilson. The author captures both the high points and tragic moments of an American icon’s twilight years.

September 23: John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court, by Richard Brookhiser, reviewed by Schenectady family court Judge Mark Blanchfield. This book tells the fascinating story of this pivotal chief justice, who transformed the Supreme Court, through cases such as Marbury v. Madison, into the powerful judicial body that it is  today.

September 30: Joseph Dalton, arts reporter and classical music critic for the Times- Union, reviews his book, Washington’s Golden Age: Hope Ridings Miller, the Society Beat, and the Rise of Women Journalists. Miller, Dalton’s cousin, was a trailblazer for women in her profession. Starting in 1934 as the Washington Post society editor, she had a long career reporting on the interconnected world of society and politics, and mingling with the most well-known figures of the day.

October 7: Making Music American: 1917 and the Transformation of Culture, by E. Douglas Bomberger, and reviewed by Susan Lohnas, Schenectady musician. saw the release of the first jazz recordings and the creation of some landmark classical music recordings. At the same time, some major concert musicians were forced from the stage, and the issues of race and nationality in America were operating within the political context that led the United States to enter World War I. The interwoven narratives of musical lives encourage us to understand how our musical history has been shaped.

October 21: The Revolutionary Genius of Plants: A New Understanding of Plant Intelligence and Behavior, by Stefano Mancuso, reviewed by Anita Sanchez, author of In Praise of Poison Ivy, and returning environmental educator. Who thought that plant physiology could be so much fun! Neurobiologist Mancuso considers the fundamental differences between plants and animals and challenges our assumptions about which is the higher form of life. Do plants have intelligence? Do they have memory? They make up eighty percent of the weight of all living things on earth, and are responsible for not only the air that let’s us survive, but for many of our comforts: our medicine, our food supply, and even our fossil fuels. This is an enlightening and optimistic book to read.