Event—Public Programming

Writing About Empire

—Literature, History, and the American Past

Explore the different themes of American empire—and how historians write about the complex histories of US foreign relations—in this conversation between authors Nicholson Baker and Daniel Immerwahr.

Ten thousand miles, attributed to "Philadelphia Press." 1898. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

View a video recording of this program.

How do novelists and historians write about war, empire, and power? How do they translate deep research into compelling narrative? How do they think about evidence—and the absence of evidence—as they write? Are there lines between educating readers and providing them with gripping stories?

This installment of “Conversations at the Newberry” brings together two writers, Nicholson Baker and Daniel Immerwahr, who explore themes of American empire. Though they approach their work through different lenses and write in different styles, both Baker and Immerwahr dig into the complex histories of US foreign relations. In this conversation, they’ll think together about how literature and historical writing have shaped understandings of American power.

The event, generously sponsored by Sue and Melvin Gray, is free to the public.


Nicholson Baker is a novelist and essayist who has written ten novels and numerous works of nonfiction, including Baseless: My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information Act, The Anthologist, The Mezzanine, and Human Smoke.   

Daniel Immerwahr, Professor of History at Northwestern University, is the author of How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States and Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development. 

Cost and Registration

This program is free and open to all. Advance registration required.

In-Person Registration

National Library Week

This program coincides with National Library Week (April 23-29), a week-long event organized by the American Library Association to celebrate the work of libraries across the United States.

To celebrate, we're offering 10% off all purchases at the Newberry Bookshop (both in-store and online) for the entire week! To access the discount online, enter the code Tome 10 at checkout.

As we celebrate how libraries support communities nationwide, it is also important to remember that we need your support in return. Make a gift this National Library Week to help keep the Newberry vibrant for years to come.

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Check out video recordings of past Newberry public programs on our YouTube channel.


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