Third annual book festival offers a variety of treats
by Ken Horner

Many have said that books are food for the mind, and if you are a hungry resident of Chestnut Hill, fear not, because there will be plenty of sustenance to go around early next month.

On July 9 and 10, Chestnut Hill will play host to the Third Annual Chestnut Hill Book Festival, sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Business Association, Valley Green Bank and the New York Times.

What started as an idea in the mind of Greg Welsh, owner of the Chestnut Grill, president of the Chestnut Hill Business Association and avid reader, the Book Festival’s success over the past two years has built its reputation as an excellent event for the residents of the area.

For Kate O’Neill, program director of the Chestnut Hill Business Association, the success of the Book Festival has mainly been founded upon one thing.

“It’s all about the authors,” she said.

And if what you’re salivating for is author appearances, don’t worry, because this year’s installment promises more of the same.

The two days will feature readings and appearances by 36 locally and nationally recognized authors from all genres.

The long list of authors includes George Anastasia, veteran Philadelphia Inquirer crime reporter; Dr. James Zogby, Middle East expert and president of the Arab American Institute; Dr. Arthur Caplan, University of Pennsylvania Professor and bio-ethicist; Michael Capuzzo, New York Times bestselling-author, and Lorene Cary, the critically acclaimed author of Black Ice.

In addition, multiple free events will be offered at various locations, including Stagecrafters Theater, 8130 Germantown Ave.; Roller’s Restaurant at the Flying Fish, 8142 Germantown Ave.; the Chestnut Hill Hotel’s Bombay Room, 8229 Germantown Ave.; Buckley Park, 8201 Germantown Ave., and Jenks Playground, 8301 Germantown Ave.

These events will include panel discussions, a singer/songwriter slam and a performance by the Chestnut Hill Improv Group to name a few.

If you’re looking for something for the kids, you’re in luck.

Between 10 a.m. and noon on Sunday, July 10, at Jenks Playground, a special Kids Festival will take place featuring music, food, well-known children’s authors and illustrators like Ponder Goembel, Matt Phelan, Jason Deeble and David Lubar, as well as a special appearance by Kathy O’Connell of WXPN’s Kids Corner.

While nearly all of the events will be free of charge, there are a select few that will cost a small fee.  The Venetian Club, 8030 Germantown Ave., will host a special pre-event First Person Story Slam on Friday, July 8 between 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.  From 4-6 p.m. on July 10, Chestnut Hill Academy will feature a panel discussion sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Historical Society that will be free for members and will cost $15 for non-members.  Finally, there will be various 90 minute writers’ workshops in association with Philadelphia Stories offered at $10 each to be held at the Chestnut Hill Hotel’s Bombay Room.

Overall, this year’s Chestnut Hill Book Festival is shaping up to be quite an exciting event.

“It’s why you live in Chestnut Hill,” O’Neill said.  “It’s everything you want to happen in your neighborhood.”

“Where else can you walk outside your home and be so near to these nationally-recognized authors?”

The Chestnut Hill Historical Society’s program for the third annual Chestnut Hill Book Festival
will take place on Sunday, July 10, from four to six pm in the lobby of Chestnut Hill Academy on West Willow Grove Avenue. Featured speakers this year include David Contosta, Carol Franklin and Eugene Stackhouse. Contosta and Franklin have recently published a monumental work on the Wissahickon Valley and will discuss the architectural history of that area. Mr. Stackhouse has recently written a book on Germantown and the Civil War, that will be the topic of his talk.

The Chestnut Hill Historical Society is dedicated to preserving and nurturing the historical, physical, and cultural resources, and the character of Chestnut Hill.

For members of the CHHS, there is no charge; for non-members a $15 fee.


Philadelphia Stories workshops

Philadelphia Stories will be hosting the following Festival events for writers in the Bombay Room at the Chestnut Hill Hotel:

SATURDAY, JULY 9: Workshops are $10 and open to the public.

Getting Started (12-1:30) This hands-on workshop will offer tips and strategies to wake up that muse and get writing! Moderator: Elizabeth Mosier

The Art of Revision  (2:30-4)  This workshop will discuss how to polish the language, characters, and structure of your story. Moderator: Alison Hicks Shaping a story (4:30-6)

This hands-on workshop will explore the writing process and help you shape your characters, plot, and voice into a dynamic story. Moderator: Susan Barr-Toman

Local Literary Voices (7-9) – Can we do this in the Bombay Room? We expect about 50 people.  Meet the publishers and authors from Philadelphia’s wide variety of Local Literary Magazines at this free event.

SUNDAY, JULY 10: Workshop is $10 and open to the public. (We focused more on poetry this day since it sounded like out panel discussions were similar to some other events you had on the schedule)

11:30-1:  Poetry & Performance workshop:  Deconstructed Breath with Bonnie MacAllister, editor of Certain Circuits.

1:15-2:30:  Lunch w/Contributors and Board of Philadelphia Stories (If Greg approves)

3:00-4:30:  Poetry Performance featuring the hosts, organizers, and editors of local series/pubs/workshops. Followed by an open mic.


Meet the authors

George Anastasia

George Anastasia, a veteran reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, is the author of five books of nonfiction, including Blood and Honor, which Jimmy Breslin called the “best gangster book ever written.”

A graduate of Dartmouth College, he is the grandson of Sicilian immigrants who settled in South Philadelphia. He has been writing about organized and disorganized crime for thirty-five years, covering casino gambling in Atlantic City, mob hits in Philadelphia and criminal prosecutions throughout the country.

He has worked as a consultant on projects for ABC, the Discovery Channel, the History Channel and National Geographic. He is co-host of a radio show, “Crime Guys,” on WPHT every Sunday night from 8 to 10 p.m. and is featured on MyFoxPhilly’s MobTalk, a regular Friday segment of the Channel 29 newscast.

He also does a weekly video report called “Mob Scene” for, the website of The Inquirer and Daily News.

Elijah Anderson

William K. Lanman, Jr. Professor of Sociology

Elijah Anderson is the William K. Lanman, Jr. Professor of Sociology at Yale University. He is one of the leading urban ethnographers in the United States. His publications include Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City (1999), winner of the Komarovsky Award from the Eastern Sociological Society; Streetwise: Race, Class, and Change in an Urban Community (1990), winner of the American Sociological Association’s Robert E. Park Award for the best published book in the area of Urban Sociology; and the classic sociological work, A Place on the Corner (1978; 2nd ed., 2003). Anderson’s most recent ethnographic work, The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life, will be published by WW Norton in March 2011.

Dr. Anderson has served on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Political and Social Science and is formerly a vice-president of the American Sociological Association. He has served in an editorial capacity for a wide range of professional journals and special publications, including Qualitative Sociology, Ethnography, American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, City & Community, Annals of the Society of Political and Social Science, and the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. He has also served as a consultant to a variety of government agencies, including the White House, the United States Congress, the National Academy of Science and the National Science Foundation. Additionally, he was a member of the National Research Council’s Panel on the Understanding and Control of Violent Behavior.

Michael Capuzzo

Michael Capuzzo is the author of the New York Times bestseller Close to Shore and a former feature writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Miami Herald. His stories have appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Life. He lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia.




Lorene Cary

Lorene Cary’s critically acclaimed memoir, Black Ice, was heralded by Arnold Rampersad as “probably the most beautifully written and moving African American autobiographical narrative since Maya Angelou’s celebrated I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” The New York Times Book Review praised Cary, in her debut novel, The Price of A Child, as “a powerful storyteller, frankly sensual, mortally funny, gifted with an ear for the pounce and ragged inconsequentiality of real speech and an eye for the shifts and subterfuges by which ordinary people get by.” With her latest novel, IF SONS, THEN HEIRS (Atria; April 19, 2011; 978-1-4516-1022-2; $24.00), Cary illuminates yet another iconic American story, largely untold: that of African-American land ownership and its tragic loss.  Along the way, this novel explores the power of family secrets and the complex legacy of lynching and segregation while a thoroughly contemporary love story unfolds between a man and a woman—and a boy and the father he adopts.

Allen M. Hornblum

Allen M. Hornblum was born and raised in Philadelphia and has become a noted
chronicler of some of the more contentious and hair-raising chapters in the city’s history

For more years than he cares to admit, however, he had more footballs, tennis racquets,
and track shoes than books. That would eventually change. 
A product of the Philadelphia Public School System, he would go on to attain degrees from Penn State, Villanova, and Temple Universities and develop a healthy appetite for good books, solid research, and respect for investigative journalists and chroniclers of American history. Before devoting all his time to researching and writing about the people and events he felt had been neglected over the years, Allen was more the public activist than solitary scholar. Between these polar opposites was an eclectic professional life that included stints as a prison literacy instructor, congressional staffer, advocate for the dispossessed, with additional turns as a transit lobbyist, cable television host, law
enforcement administrator, and college lecturer.

He made contributions in each of these positions, some of them substantial. In the criminal justice arena, for example, he would champion many reform policies and procedures while serving as the Chief-of-Staff of the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office, a member of the Pennsylvania Crime Commission, and the Pennsylvania Commission
for Crime & Delinquency amongst others. Crime and punishment, and the history of imprisonment would be become permanent interests of his and he would go on to visit such infamous institutions as Strangeways, Mount Joy, and Le Sante, and Regensdorf Penitentiaries.

His years as a prison worker and political organizer helped nurture a pronounced
distaste for injustice and interest in the plight of the downtrodden. Much of Allen’s
research and policy interests would focus on the exploited and leveling the political and
economic playing field. It was his passion for revealing social inequities and instances of
outright abuse that resulted in his leaving his position in the Sheriff’s Office to research
and chronicle the history of the Holmesburg Prison medical experiments, which he had personally witnessed earlier in his career. Acres of Skin, Allen’s groundbreaking investigation of this dark chapter in American medical history – and the complicity of many penal systems across the country – has now become the classic work on the subject
and a recipient of considerable media attention. The book has been featured on a host of national news shows including, Good Morning America, the CBS Evening News, CNN, the BBC, and the front page of the New York Times. His other books have also garnered extensive print and electronic coverage.

In addition to teaching at Temple and Drexel Universities, Allen has also lectured widely
and to a diverse audience of scholars, physicians, and average citizens. He has presented his research to the National Institutes of Health, the British Medical Association, the Fox Chase Cancer Center, and a host of medical schools including Temple, Drexel, and
East Carolina. He is often asked to give presentations at colleges and universities and has addressed students and faculty at many universities including Columbia, Brown, Penn State, St. Josephs, and Villanova.

Andy Waskie

Born and raised in Bloomsburg, Columbia County, Pennsylvania.,  Dr.Waskie pursued a German/Russian major, History minor in college at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, and studied abroad in his junior semester at Salzburg, Austria; Waskie also studied at the University of Marburg, Germany; and received a government scholarship to study Slavic Linguistics at Charles University, Prague (Czech Republic). He received an M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from New York University. He had experience with the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Service officer; and saw duty with the U.S. Army Reserves specializing in language interrogation and interpretation. Andy became a teacher of languages and history at Pennsbury School District in Bucks County and spent 31 years there as teacher, curriculum supervisor and Department Head.
Retiring in 1999 from public education, Andy is now a professor at Temple University. He also served as an adjunct professor at Rider University/Westminster Campus and Holy Family University in Philadelphia and Bucks County, teaching Civil War history in the Civil War Institute that he helped to found.

Andy is a Civil War historian, published author and extremely active in Civil War history, research and preservation. He is a specialist on the life and career of Gen. George Meade whom he portrays in a “1st person” style Living-History performance.

Andy also is knowledgeable on the history of Philadelphia and does history tours there.  As a tour director since 1982, he enjoys principally history orientated touring and travel.

He has traveled extensively both here and abroad, speaks several languages and possesses (four) 4 university degrees

Dr. Waskie has received a number of prestigious awards and recognition for his teaching and history oriented projects; and serves on a number of Boards of historical organizations (including: Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Civil War Museum & Library, Philadelphia; Laurel Hill Cemetery; Frankford Historical Society, Philadelphia; Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association (G.B.P.A.), of which he was elected Vice President, etc..) and maintains active memberships in a variety of historical societies, including: Historical Society of Pennsylvania; etc.. He is a member of a number of Civil War Round Tables, and helped to found: Union League CWRT, Philadelphia; Camp Olden CWRT, Trenton, NJ; Bucks County CWRT, Doylestown, PA; G.A.R. CWRT, Philadelphia; Delaware Valley CWRT, Philadelphia.

Active with the Philadelphia Consortium for Civil War History, he is part of the group seeking to promote the access to Civil War History in the city of Philadelphia; and the foundation of the new Civil War & Underground Railroad Museum of Philadelphia, for which he serves on the Advisory Board. He is a charter member of the Philadelphia Civil War History Consortium. He was elected to membership in the Union League of Philadelphia in 2003.

He is the founder and current president of the General Meade Society of Philadelphia, an organization that seeks to promote the services and contributions of the noble hero of Gettysburg.

Presently, Dr.Waskie is engaged in researching and writing the Regimental History of the 110th Penna. Volunteers. He has completed a new book on the Washington Brigade of Philadelphia, First Volunteers to the Front. He has also collaborated on a Guide Book for Civil War Sites in Philadelphia with his colleague, Dr. Rick Sauers.

He was a founder of the A.M.A.R.T. (Association of Mid-Atlantic Civil War Round Tables) Collaborative and has served on the Planning Committee since 1994, and acted as Chair of the 1998 Symposium. In 2004, he was moderator of the symposium at Princeton University. He has also lectured at many of the conferences.
An active participant and founding member in the ‘Civil War Home Front’ Project at Temple University, a Civil War & Emancipation Studies Center.