Written by:James Carskadon
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Talmage Boston, a prominent Texas attorney and historian, will be the featured speaker Sept. 15 for a special fall-semester event at Mississippi State.
Boston will discuss his new book, “Cross-Examining History: A Lawyer Gets Answers from the Experts About our Presidents,” during a 7 p.m. presentation at MSU’s Mitchell Memorial Library. The book is set for release in early September by Houston-based Bright Sky Press.
Free and open to all in the John Grisham Room, Boston’s address will highlight the series of public interviews he conducted with leading historians and former presidential staff members. Gaining a deeper insight into chief executives that helped shape U.S. history was the goal of his interviews.
The MSU-based Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library and Association is organizing Boston’s campus visit. He will be available to sign copies of his book after the program.
“Fascinating” is the word John Marszalek, the association’s executive director, used to describe the collection of 31 edited transcripts with, among others, Emmy Award-winning documentarian Ken Burns, former secretary of state James A. Baker III, Pulitzer Prize-winners David McCullough and Jon Meacham, and New York Times best-selling historian Douglas Brinkley. Burns also wrote the book’s foreword.
According to Boston, his goal was to focus on those he considers the 20 most interesting presidents, not necessarily the best ones. Most of the interviews took place throughout 2015.
“He asks the kind of questions that a historian would not necessarily ask, but a lawyer might; that’s an interesting approach, I think,” said Marszalek, an emeritus MSU Giles Distinguished Professor and nationally recognized historian and author.
For the chapter on President Grant, Boston interviewed historian Jean Edward Smith, author of “Grant” (Simon & Schuster, 2002) which Marszalek praised as being among the best biographies of the former Union Army commander and 18th U.S. president.
A commercial lawyer in the Dallas area, Boston repeatedly has been recognized by Texas Monthly magazine as a “Texas Super Lawyer.”
After he “got the writing bug” in the early 1990s, the two-degree University of Texas at Austin graduate went on to produce two books on baseball and another on the importance of lawyers in society. John Grisham, MSU alumnus and best-selling author, provided the foreword for “1939: Baseball’s Tipping Point” (Bright Sky Press, 2005).
Boston said he began conducting public interviews for a Texas organization about six years ago. The on-stage format for “Cross-Examining History” interviews allowed him to combine much-practiced courtroom interrogation skills with a love of history, he acknowledged.
“Once the interview was scheduled, I devoured their books and tried to zero-in on the most interesting parts and craft penetrating questions,” he said.
Boston’s visit is made possible with funding from last year’s 15th Amendment Symposium held on campus. Symposium sponsors included the MSU Libraries, offices of the President, Provost and Public Affairs, along with the Shackouls Honors College, African American Studies, College of Arts and Sciences and its political science department, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, National Park Service, University Press of Mississippi, and Office of Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman.
For more biographical information about the speaker, visit www.talmageboston.com.
To learn more about the Grant Presidential Library and Association, visit www.usgrantlibrary.org.
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