Join us for a virtual conversation with Denise Kiernan and Erin Templeton on Tuesday, December 1st, at 6PM! They will be discussing Denise Kiernan's new book, We Gather Together: A Nation Divided, a President in Turmoil, and a Historic Campaign to Embrace Gratitude and Grace.
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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Castle and The Girls of Atomic City comes a new way to look at American history through the story of giving thanks.
From Ancient Rome through 21st-century America, bestselling author Denise Kiernan brings us a biography of an idea: gratitude, as a compelling human instinct and a global concept, more than just a mere holiday. Spanning centuries, We Gather Together is anchored amid the strife of the Civil War, and driven by the fascinating story of Sarah Josepha Hale, a widowed mother with no formal schooling who became one of the 19th century’s most influential tastemakers and who campaigned for decades to make real an annual day of thanks.
Populated by an enthralling supporting cast of characters including Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, Walt Whitman, Norman Rockwell, and others, We Gather Together is ultimately a story of tenacity and dedication, an inspiring tale of how imperfect people in challenging times can create powerful legacies.
Working at the helm of one of the most widely read magazines in the nation, Hale published Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and others, while introducing American readers to such newfangled concepts as “domestic science,” white wedding gowns, and the Christmas tree. A prolific writer, Hale penned novels, recipe books, essays and more, including the ubiquitous children’s poem, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” And Hale herself never stopped pushing the leaders of her time, in pursuit of her goal.
The man who finally granted her wish about a national “thanksgiving” was Lincoln, the president of the war-torn nation in which Hale would never have the right to vote.
Illuminating, wildly discussable, part myth-busting, part call to action, We Gather Together is full of unexpected delights and uneasy truths. The stories of indigenous peoples, immigrant communities, women’s rights activists, abolitionists, and more, will inspire readers to rethink and reclaim what it means to give thanks in this day and age. The book’s message of gratitude—especially when embraced during the hardest of times—makes it one to read and share, over and over, at any time of year.
“As a researcher, Denise Kiernan is skilled at finding the lost moments of our national conscience; as a writer, she is brilliant at explaining why these moments matter. Only a writer of Kiernan's ability can cut through great swaths of history to locate the germinating seed of a national movement that is still moving us.”—Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Ballad and A Land More Kind Than Home
Denise Kiernan is an author, journalist and producer. Her new book, We Gather Together, arrives November 10, 2020. Her last book, The Last Castle (Sept., 2017), was an instant New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback and was also a Wall Street Journal bestseller. She is also the author of The Girls of Atomic City, which is a New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and NPR bestseller and has been published in multiple languages. She lives in North Carolina.
Erin Templeton is the Dean of the School of Humanities, Sciences, and Business at Converse College, where she is also a Professor of English. She focuses on modern and contemporary American literature. Most recently, she wrote the introduction to the 2019 Handheld Press edition of Zelda Fitzgerald's novel Save Me the Waltz and contributed an essay to "Reading The Waste Land with the #MeToo Generation" cluster published in Modernism/modernity.