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Bryant Park Reading Room Non-Fiction Authors (with the New York Historical Society), UNDAUNTED, Brooke Kroeger, August 16, 2023

August 16, 2023

Talk about being daunted. A thousand people doing aerobics and then yoga as prelude to the Non-Fiction Author Series under the yellow umbrellas along the uptown side of Bryant Park.


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The series is a joint endeavor of the Bryant Park Corporation and The New-York Historical Society, whose Nancy Ng from Bryant Park and Alex Kassl from NYHS put the July-August schedule together last spring.

Nancy Ng of the Bryant Park Corporation and Alex Kassl of NYHS

I was flattered when the offer came but did express concern about the proposed date of August 16. All I could think was dopo Ferragosto? Will anyone be left in New York City who would come? Nancy was reassuring. “We have a loyal following,” she wrote.

There was promotion, on the Bryant Park and NYHS sites and in the park, too. My social media followings are modest, but I put the word out as best I could.

For the 7pm event, people I did not know had started to fill some of the seats before I arrived at 6:30pm. I snapped this before I started speaking. It includes a few wonderful people I do know.

Bryant Park Reading Room, Non-Fiction Series, audience for Brooke Kroeger’s Undaunted, August 16, 2023.

On the right hand side, three rows from the front, starting from the aisle, you’ll see my beloved niece, Arielle Goren, next to my cousins Johanna and Michael Kaufman. Soon arrived my dear friends Ilene Mandell, Geraldine Baum, Michael Oreskes, Paula Span, Malka Margolies, Patti Kenner, and —a great and wonderful surprise —David Firestone and Susan Brenna. “Did you see our Kansas City row?” Malka asked. Michael K, Malka, and David all grew up with me there. From KnopfUndaunted‘s publisher, came Kathy Zuckerman, who, with Elka Roderick, is responsible for so much of Undaunted‘s vaunted “visibility,” and Nick Latimer, the house’s publicity vp.

Nancy was right. Five minutes in, we had filled every seat, mostly with people I didn’t know but was just as delighted to see.

Louise Mirrer, who heads the NYHS, provided the introduction as she does for every event in the series.

Louise Mirrer, CEO, New-York Historical Society

Here’s a snippet from my remarks. It’s about the late Jim Bellows, an editor (New York Herald Tribune, Washington Star, Los Angeles Herald Examiner) who, as Maureen Dowd put it, “just gave off a vibe of someone looking for great stories” and who seemed to love strong women. “He always had a sparkle and you felt that you could do anything with him at the helm.”

Geraldine Baum’s during and after snaps:

And, just below, for anyone with the inclination and stamina, beautifully recorded through the series’s sound system—sirens and all—by the Bryant Park tech maestro, Chip Barrow,

Chip Barrow of the Bryant Park Corporation

is the entire 51 minutes and 55 seconds of the talk, including q and a.

If you listen, you’ll note the point where I mention Peggy Hull, than start to tell a story and stop myself to say I think I’m fusing two stories, one from World War I and one from World War II. The story told was really about Betty Wason (who rather reminded me of Peggy Hull, actually.) Wason was stringing for CBS in Europe during World War II. It was she for whom a man was hired to read her reporting over the air because her voice wasn’t authoritative enough. My bad.

For the scrapbook, the promotional material here on the Bryant Park site and here on New York Historical Society site.



Free and open to the public. No reservation needed. First come, first served.

Our popular outdoor lecture series is back! The New-York Historical Society is thrilled to once again partner with the Bryant Park Reading Room to present a series of free programs in the park. Now in its 14th summer, this year’s Non-Fiction at the Bryant Park Reading Room series features a wide array of fascinating topics, including presidential summer homes, the scars left by the Vietnam War, pioneering American women, and the night New York went up in flames.

Long before a woman’s right to vote was enshrined in the US Constitution, women in journalism surmounted innumerable hurdles to cover the major events shaping our nation. Author Brooke Kroeger examines the lives of the best-remembered and long-forgotten women journalists from 1840 to the present, including Nellie Bly, Ida B. Wells, Joan Didion, and Cokie Roberts. Their work in a vital profession that is, even now, dominated by men, reflects an overarching story of the enduring struggle for women’s rights.

Brooke Kroeger, a journalist and professor emerita at NYU, is the author of Undaunted: How Women Changed American Journalism.

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And, for the record, the full Summer Bryant Park Reading Room Non-Fiction Authors schedule: