Marginalized workers among the subjects of the History Book Festival


Accomplished individuals who were forced to conceal they were gay and union organizers whose achievements were marginalized because they were women or black are among the topics featured at the sixth annual Lewes History Book Festival .

Among the approximately 24 books featured in the festival are also the stories of two medieval queens whose rivalry and art of rule paved the way for Charlemagne’s empire, and the recounting of the experiences of a biracial woman in Paris during the French Revolution.

The authors will discuss their latest works of non-fiction and historical fiction throughout the day on Saturday, September 24 at historic locations in Lewes.

In “Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington,” author James Kirchick discusses how homosexuality has influenced presidential administrations, from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Bill Clinton.

For decades, the mere suggestion that someone might be gay or lesbian has destroyed reputations, ended successful careers and ruined the lives of government employees, from presidential advisers to aides. Kirchick’s extensive research documents how cultural and political anxiety over gay people sparked a decades-long witch hunt, impacting everything from the CIA-FBI rivalry to the rise of Joseph McCarthy, the struggle for black civil rights and the rise of the conservative movement.

Kirchick, a columnist for Tablet magazine, has written about human rights, politics and culture around the world. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. He is the author of “The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues and the Coming Dark Age”, and earned degrees in history and political science at Yale.

Although the history of organized labor in the United States has long been considered the domain of white men, many of the struggles and hard-won gains now taken for granted have been led by members of the country’s most marginalized communities.

In “Fight Like Hell: The Untold Story of American Labour,” author Kim Kelly highlights the contributions of individuals such as Ida Mae Stull, the first lady of coal mining; Maria Moreno, the heroine of Latino farmworkers; Bayard Rustin, black queer civil rights icon; pioneering sex worker rights activist Margo St. James; and Ford whistleblower Suzette Wright.

Kelly is a freelance journalist, author and labor organizer. His writing on work, class, politics and culture has appeared in Teen Vogue, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times and elsewhere. A third-generation union member, Kelly belongs to the Global Union of Industry Workers of Freelance Journalists and is an elected board member of the Writers Guild of America, East. She graduated from Drexel University.

Author Shelley Puhak takes readers back to the Dark Ages in “The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World.”

Puhak resurrects Brunhild, a princess raised to be married for the purpose of creating an alliance, and her sister-in-law Fredegund, who started out as a lowly palace slave. In sixth-century Merovingian France, women were excluded from noble succession and royal politics was a blood sport. Nonetheless, the two women ruled vast kingdoms, engaged in a decades-long civil war, and negotiated with kings and popes. They forever changed the face of Europe.

Puhak is a critically acclaimed poet and writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Lapham’s Quarterly, Teen Vogue and elsewhere. She is the author of three books of poetry, including “Guinevere in Baltimore”, winner of the Anthony Hecht Prize. “The Dark Queens” is his first non-fiction album. She earned master’s degrees from the University of Delaware and the University of New Orleans.

“Mademoiselle Revolution” by Zoe Sivak, one of the historical novels at this year’s festival, is the story of Sylvie, a biracial heiress who escapes to France when the Haitian Revolution burns on her native island. In Paris, she fell in love with the aims of the French Revolution, as well as the revolutionaries themselves, but soon found herself wondering about her past and her future.

As a young woman of color, Sivak champions diverse stories and characters in her writing, striving to explore famous male figures through the lens of the women alongside them. When not engaged in historical research, Sivak is pursuing both her Juris Doctorate and her Masters in Public Health in Philadelphia.

The 2022 History Book Festival begins Friday, September 23 with a keynote presentation by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Buzz Bissinger and ends Sunday, September 25 with a closing keynote by Pulitzer Prize-winning Ada Ferrer. story 2022. Tickets for the keynote and closing presentations must be purchased in advance at

All events except the keynote and closing speakers are free; seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Biblion in Lewes and Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach will have books available for purchase ahead of the festival. History Book Festival titles may also be borrowed through the Delaware Public Library system as they are published.

Present sponsors of the festival are Delaware Humanities and The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Distilling Company is Keynote Funding Partner; Joe and Debbie Schell are the funding partners for the closing presentation.

The History Book Festival is the first and only book festival in the United States devoted exclusively to history.

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