Meacham ends this semester’s Bryan series

Nine days after releasing his latest book, “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush,” presidential historian Jon Meacham, author, executive editor and vice president at Random House and contributing editor at TIME, will take the stage at the Greensboro Coliseum to speak at Guilford College’s Bryan Series.

During his talk on Nov. 19, Meacham will discuss American leaders such as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, and how history is important for the present.

“As a Pulitzer Prize-winning author with a depth of knowledge about politics, religion and current affairs, Jon will present a substantive and educational program that resonates with our core audience,” said Associate Director of the Bryan Series Suzanne Ingram.

From 1998 to 2006 Meacham served as Newsweek’s managing editor and took on the role of editor-in-chief from 2006 to 2010.

“Jon follows in a tradition of journalists and historians like David McCullough, Michael Beschloss, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Tom Brokaw, Bob Woodward and Fareed Zakaria who have spoken in the Bryan Series,” said Ty Buckner, associate vice president for the Bryan Series and advancement communications. “They were all good storytellers and were well received by the lecture audience, students, faculty and staff.”

Meacham has authored seven books, and his book “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House” won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009.

However, some of his books are controversial among academics.

“Meacham’s work has not been embraced by professional historians, as evidenced by reviews in the standard journals for the era,” said Associate Professor of History Damon Akins in an email interview.

“Meacham was writing for a popular audience …  The ‘Great Man’ style of historical narrative, in which biographies of important (male) political leaders are used to stand in for national history, has fallen very much out of favor among professional historians over the last 50 years, but it retains a wide readership among the general public.”

Like many other Bryan Series speakers, Meacham can relate to Guilford students because of his educational background.

“Jon has a liberal arts education,” said Buckner. “He earned a degree in English literature from Sewanee: The University of the South, so he has an appreciation for the education that students receive at Guilford and other small colleges. He can relate to the experience here, and that is important.”

Though ticket registration has passed for Meacham’s visit, there will be additional tickets at the Founders Hall information desk and at the Greensboro Coliseum the night of the event.

There will also be an on-campus Q&A session for students, faculty and staff at 4:00 p.m. on Nov. 19 in the Community Center.

Some are concerned with the lack of diversity in Bryan Series speakers.

“I think (The Bryan Series) is a little bit narrow in terms of the voices that are being heard,” said junior Alessandra Belmonte. “I think it’s great, overall, but that expanding the (breadth) of the people who are speaking would be important just to represent everyone.”

But overall, most are excited by what the Bryan Series offers.

“I would really like to go to all of (the Bryan Series events),” said sophomore Sean Kirwan. “I think it’s an excellent opportunity to go to something that you’d otherwise have to pay quite a bit for.”