Open book with David Levering Lewis

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In honor of W. E.B. Du Bois and Black History Month, the Stockbridge Library is hosting a lecture with two-time Pulitzer Prize winning historian and author David Levering Lewis.

The author of eight books and editor of two more, Lewis concentrates on comparative history with special focus on 20th century social history and civil rights. His interests include 19th-century Africa, 20th century France and Islamic Spain. Lewis, who won his Pulitzers for his biographies of W.E.B. DuBois, will give a talk titled "W.E.B. Du Bois 'Then and Now'" at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29.

Lewis, who said he has friends in the Berkshires he visits often, has taught at Howard University, Cornell University, the University of Notre Dame, Harvard University, and the University of California, San Diego, before joining Rutgers University in 1985 as the Martin Luther King, Jr., Professor of History. In 2003, Lewis was appointed Julius Silver University Professor and Professor of History at New York University.

Ahead of his upcoming free talk in Stockbridge, Lewis took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his favorite books via email. (Answers have been lightly edited.)

Q. What are some of your favorite books about American history, non-fiction?

A. Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States"; Lawrence O'Donnell's "Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election"; "Simple Justice : The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality"

Q. What about historical fiction?     

A. Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America."

Q. What work of Du Bois is your favorite to read, study?

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A. "Darkwater: Voices from Within the Vale."

Q. What books do you consider "must reads" for students of United States social history and civil rights?

A. Titles mention in the first question's answers, plus Du Bois' "The Souls of Black Folk"; Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow"; David Kennedy's "Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945"; John Hope Franklin's "From Slavery to Freedom."

Q. What is your favorite biography written about a political figure?

A. T. Harry Williams' "Huey Long."

Q. What's the last book you read that you couldn't put down?

A. Erskine Clarke's "Dwelling Place: A Plantation Epic."

Q. What books are on your nightstand?

A. Bernie Sanders' "Where We Go From Here"; Melvin Urofsky's "The Affirmative Action Puzzle."


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