Columbia College Chicago

Conversations in the Arts: Michael Beschloss

Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss discusses presidential courage

Michael BeschlossNBC News/PBS commentator and presidential historian Michael Beschloss spoke about presidential courage at the final 2011/2012 Conversations in the Arts lecture at Columbia College Chicago, encouraging the audience to think critically about candidates’ platforms when they vote this November. 

Talking about how the benefit of hindsight changes viewpoints on political leaders over time, Beschloss discussed historically important presidential qualities that voters should consider in the upcoming election. Using Abraham Lincoln and the once-controversial Emancipation Proclamation as an example, Beschloss encouraged voters to support candidates who aren’t afraid to make an unpopular decision to pursue what’s best for the country. 

Chicago native Beschloss has written nine books on American presidents. His work has been on New York Times and Washington Post bestseller lists, and in 2011, he annotated and wrote the introduction for the #1 New York Times bestseller “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy.” Beschloss is currently working on a book focusing on presidents during wartime. 

Beschloss also shared many anecdotes from his years of presidential research, including humorous and little-known stories about the personal lives of Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy. Asked by a Columbia College instructor what he would tell college students who don’t think it’s important to vote in the upcoming presidential election, Beschloss said, “I’d tell them it breaks my heart to hear that.”

His previous books have ranged from topics such as Lyndon Johnson's secret tapes to JFK and the Cold War. When not writing, Beschloss serves as the NBC News presidential historian, and as a commentator for "PBS NewsHour." Beschloss’ numerous accolades include an Emmy for his role in creating the Discovery Channel three-part series "Decisions That Shook the World," which he also hosted.

This season’s featured speakers are innovators who have shaped trends and topics in disciplines taught through the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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*Photos by Mary Carol Fitzgerald
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