Pulitzer-winning historian Garry Wills to speak

MOUNT VERNON — Celebrated historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills will speak at Cornell College on “The Burden of Slavery in American History” on Wednesday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. in King Chapel. Following his talk, Wills will sign books at a reception in Cole Library.

Wills’ address during Black History Month is Cornell’s 2004 Eric C. Kollman Memorial Lecture. He is the 13th speaker in the series and the first to address the topic of slavery in America. Admission is free.

Wills is a prolific author in addition to being one of the foremost American historians. He specializes in cultural and religious history, areas that have served as the backbone of his scholarly work and literary success. He has written more than two dozen books, including works on Presidents Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan, the New York Times best seller “Papal Sin” and the Pulitzer-winning “Lincoln at Gettysburg.”

“Papal Sin,” Wills’ most controversial book, attacked the heart of the Catholic Church hierarchy as fundamentally dishonest and was called by the New York Times Book Review a “devastating no-holds-barred indictment” of the church. His latest books include his statement of faith, “Why I Am a Catholic,” “Venice: Lion City” and the recent “Negro President: Jefferson and Slave Power,” from which he will draw for the Cornell lecture.

Wills received a doctorate in classics from Yale in 1961 and is adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University. Among his honors, Wills has received the Presidential Medal of the Endowment for the Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Award twice, the Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians and the Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting for writing and narrating “The Choice” for Frontline.

The Eric C. Kollman Lecture honors the distinguished history professor who taught at Cornell from 1944 to 1973. Beginning in 1984, Cornell has held Kollman memorial lectures on topics of historical interest ranging from the atomic bomb to 17th-century Jewish women.