Tom Brokaw, Valerie Plame set to appear in Baltimore Speakers Series

Event's sixth season also includes food advocate and war commander

March 16, 2011|By Susan Reimer, The Baltimore Sun

Food, spies, money, politics, education and war are on the agenda for the sixth season of the Baltimore Speakers Series, which returns in October at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

Among the eight luminaries who will be speaking in the series sponsored by Stevenson University are former Washington schools superintendent Michelle Rhee, former CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, and sustainable food champion Michael Pollan.

In addition, former U.S. military commander in Afghanistan Stanley McChrystal will speak, as will Azar Nafisi, author of "Reading Lolita in Tehran," and Ron Chernow, biographer of business titans J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller.

One of the highlights of the series, which will conclude in April 2012 with a speech by legendary broadcaster Tom Brokaw, is the opportunity for follow-up questions from the audience.

Chernow will open the Tuesday evening series on Oct. 4. Dubbed "America's best business biographer" by Fortune magazine and a National Book Award winner, he is also the biographer of Alexander Hamilton. He will discuss his latest book about the first president of the United States, "Washington: A Life."

On Nov. 22, Plame and Wilson will discuss how she was "outed" as a CIA agent after her husband wrote a New York Times opinion piece saying that the Iraqi nuclear threat had been exaggerated by the Bush administration.

Pollan has written four best-sellers during 25 years of exploring the relationship between humans and food. His most recent book is "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual." He will speak Jan. 17, 2012.

Nafisi's book, "Reading Lolita in Tehran" describes her life as a woman and professor under the Islamic revolution. It spent 117 weeks on the New York Times best-seller lists. She is the executive director of Cultural Conversations at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

McChrystal famously resigned from command of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan after his candid remarks in Rolling Stone magazine about the conduct of the war. He will speak in March.

And Brokaw will discuss his five decades in broadcasting, from reporting on the civil rights movement in the South to service as White House correspondent during Watergate and more than 20 years as anchor of the NBC Nightly News.

Presented by Stevenson, the speaker series is sponsored by the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore public radio station WYPR, Maryland Public Television and the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Tickets are sold by subscription only and prices range from $265 to $395 each. For more information, call 410-783-8000 or visit

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