Book festival notes journalists

National correspondents and authors to participate in Key School event

April 14, 2006|By JAMIE STIEHM | JAMIE STIEHM,SUN REPORTER

The annual Annapolis Book Festival, only three years old, is expected to be a banner event next month when three well-known journalists and authors participate as the main speakers.

Veteran reporter and syndicated columnist Helen Thomas, considered the grande dame of White House correspondents; Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert; and Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News, will speak and sign their books May 6 at the Key School campus event. The festival is free and open to the public from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Joann Vaughan, an organizer of the private school's book fair, said a festive atmosphere truly prevails and attracts hundreds from around the area. "The most fun is that families come, from grandparents to kids," she said. "There's something for everyone."

Thomas, who is in her 80s, continues to cover White House briefings and daily news. She worked for United Press International for 57 years, until 2000, when she joined Hearst Newspapers. The first president she covered was John F. Kennedy, and her stature within the news corps is acknowledged every time she closes a presidential news conference by thanking the president. Her most recent book is Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President: Wit and Wisdom from the Front Row at the White House.

Bestselling author Bergen, who has written widely on Osama bin Laden, is a fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington and is CNN's terrorism consultant and commentator. His work has appeared in numerous newspapers, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. His latest book, The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader, was published last fall.

Andrea Mitchell, whose recently published memoir, Talking Back ... to Presidents, Dictators, and Assorted Scoundrels, went from covering Philadelphia local news to reporting on wars in Bosnia and Iraq, among other major world events. The Middle East peace process has been a constant in her career, she notes, and a highlight was interviewing Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Last year, the speaker was Bob Schieffer, anchor of the CBS Evening News.

Iris Krasnow, an author and journalism professor at American University, has four children who have attended Key School over the past dozen years. She attributed the success of the book festival to hard work on the part of several school mothers who volunteered their time - "on the ground floor of the creation" - and the school's proximity to Washington.

"You invite people [authors] to spend a sun-dappled afternoon near the Chesapeake, spend two hours at the festival and then have crabs on the bay," she said. "You know somebody who knows somebody who invites somebody."

Krasnow added: "In an era when Internet is exploding, children aren't learning the drama of how words dance on a page. That's what this is all about."

Krasnow will speak and will sell and sign her recently published book at the festival. She described her book, I Am My Mother's Daughter: Making Peace with Mom - Before It's Too Late, as a "journalistic voyage through the mid-life female psyche."

The Key School has about 720 students, from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade. Nearly 30 authors are scheduled to attend and appear at the festival.

Key School is located at 534 Hillsmere Drive in Annapolis. For information on the book festival, call (410) 263-9231, ext. 1221, or visit keyschool.org.

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