Cover of the book When the Promise Was Broken: Short Plays Inspired by the Songs of Bruce Springsteen from Smith and Kraus Publishers
Smith and Kraus Publishers

Two Kalamazoo area playwrights say the idea for a book of plays inspired by the songs of Bruce Springsteen was first hatched “six or seven years ago.” It finally took off when the chair of Western Michigan University’s Theater Department said “then do it.”

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Author James Carl Nelson says as World War I was winding down on November 11, 1918, fighting in northern Russia was getting more intense. He says it was frustrating for American troops who wondered what their mission was. 

Nelson’s book is called The Polar Bear Expedition: The Heroes of America’s Forgotten Invasion of Russia, 1918-1919. He tells the story of men, most of them from Michigan and Wisconsin, and their strange trip from what was then called Camp Custer near Battle Creek to Russia, 600 miles north of Moscow for a mission that went beyond the end of World War I. Note: This interview was originally presented in February. 

Poster for P.T. Barnum's show with Joice Heth J. Booth and Son, Wikimedia Commons
J. Booth and Son / Wikimedia Commons

Author Kevin Young says he started out writing about “why we deceive, and I ended up thinking about why we believe.” The result is the book Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News. Young says there are many reasons we believe hoaxes, “but a lot of it is because we want too." Note: this interview originally aired in January. 

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Author Kevin Young says P.T. Barnum didn’t invent the hoax, but he came close to perfecting it. The author of Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News says Barnum provided people with a good show. But Young says some the acts are troubling “when you look at his shows up close.” Note: This interview was originally published in January. 

Young will speak at Western Michigan University Thursday March 28th at 7:00p.m. in room 2452 of Knauss Hall. His appearance is sponsored by the University Center for the Humanities and Western’s English Department. The event was scheduled for January, but was rescheduled due to weather. Young says hoaxes are not about the thin line between fiction and fact. Instead, he says they are about the deep divisions between people.

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Hospice chaplain Kerry Egan says watching a loved one die is hard. She says they may suffer in pain for a long time. But Egan says one benefit of having time before death is that people have a chance to reflect on life, make a connection and say something to a loved one before they can’t say it anymore.   

The book On Living chronicles the things people told Egan while they were in Hospice. It includes reflections on the meaning of life, and regrets people felt at the end. Egan will speak at the McShane Preacher’s Colloquium Sunday March 10th and Monday March 11th at First Presbyterian Church in Kalamazoo.