Reading Into History: Interview With Author Barry Denenberg

Hello, families!

The Reading into History book for April is Lincoln Shot: A President’s Life Remembered by Barry Denenberg. Barry will be here at the Museum on Sunday, April 14th for two programs about this book.  At 1:30, he will do a Q&A  with the public about his book and Lincoln. Then at 3 pm, he will join the book club for our April wrap.

Why cram it all in on the 14th, you ask? Well, that day is the 148th anniversary of Lincoln being shot in Ford’s Theater. There could be no better time to discuss Barry’s clever telling of Lincoln’s life and death, which is framed as “Special Memorial Edition” of the fictional newspaper The National News. If you come to the book wrap at 3 pm, you’ll get to discuss the book with other families, do a Q&A with the author, see Lincoln-related objects from our Museum collection and get your book signed! Both the public event and the book wrap are free with Museum admission and no RSVPs are required.

Whichever event you choose, check out our author interview with Barry below, and check out the book. See you on the 14th!

DiMenna Children’s History Museum: What were you like between the ages of 9 and 12?

Barry Denenberg: Read intensely, although I was far from bookish. My other interests: tv, sports (stickball, hoops) girls. I was smart but not a particularly good student (I was voted “class clown” when I graduated high school.)  I was very interested in politics/current events.

DCHM: What is your favorite time period in American history?  Why?

BD: The civil rights movement, 1955-1965 — a time when “ordinary” people performed heroically. I find this personally inspiring and it helps motivate me in my work. It also shows what is possible in America.

DCHM: What is your favorite place in New York City?  Why?

BD: Felidia’s Restaurant on 58th street partly because I love good food (and now live in the provinces) but mostly because its where I have dinner with my 22-year-old New York City living and working daughter, Emma.

DCHM: What is your favorite object at the New-York Historical Society?

BD: The people, from the guards to Alice [Stevenson, Director of DCHM]. In my twenty-five-plus years of writing, I’ve been to any number of places, and you can pick up the personality of a place as soon as you arrive. I have never felt as comfortable and real as when I first came to New-York Historical starting when I asked the guard where the children’s museum was and he said, “You must be the author of the Titanic book.” It’s not like that usually. Believe me.

DCHM: What made you want to write Lincoln Shot: A President’s Life Remembered?

BD: Truth is, unlike most of my other books this was the publisher’s idea. The anniversary of the assassination was an opportunity to reach a significantly large audience and that was enticing. During the initial talks the project evolved into something unique and daring and that was a further incentive to work on the book.

DCHM: What three words best describe Lincoln Shot: A President’s Life Remembered?

BD: Accurate; literate; personal/emotional.

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