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Famous author to visit SSU

PORTSMOUTH — Nick Taylor, author of seven non-fiction books, has written the first single-volume history of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s initiative to put people to work, the Works Progress Administration, “The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: American Made — When FDR Put the Nation to Work.”

Taylor is the keynote speaker at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23 at the Portsmouth Public Library and at 7 p.m. the same day in the Flohr Lecture Hall at Shawnee State University’s Clark Memorial Library as part of the “Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story” project at SSU. The program is free and open to the public.

“I worked on “American-Made” for a very long time, but it’s been worth it,” Taylor writes on his Web site www.ricktaylor.us. “It’s been refreshing to immerse myself in a period when the government’s impulse was to do the most it could for the vast majority of Americans.

It remains one of the most interesting periods in American history, one that today’s current crop of presidential hopefuls could — and should — look to for inspiration.”

After the stock-market crash of 1929, 15 million people were out of work and when FDR took office in 1933, he promised America a “New Deal.” Out of that the WPA was born.

The WPA lasted for eight years, spent $11 billion and employed eight-and-a-half million men and women.

“American-Made” chronicles the WPA and its many achievements, from its building programs to its projects in art, music, theater and writing, and to its advances in public health and social services.

Taylor has received rave reviews for his book from Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly, among others.

USA Today said Taylor’s book is “a must-read for history buffs … Taylor is at his best in describing the different projects and the lives of the people who worked on them.”

Taylor’s lecture is part of a series of public programs being produced with the financial support of a “Soul of a People” grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.

Connie Stoner, director of Clark Memorial Library, is directing the grant. SSU’s library was one of only 30 libraries across the country to receive the grant.

The film “Soul of a People: Voices from the Writers’ Project” is a Smithsonian documentary that will be shown at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18 at the Southern Ohio Museum and repeated at 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 25 at the Portsmouth Public Library.

All “Soul of the People” events are free and open to the public.