In anticipation of Veterans Day, we’d like to invite you to discover some of the remarkable veterans and war historians we have on our roster. Whether you are looking for a history lesson on Vietnam or to glean leadership strategies from the frontlines, each of these speakers has a unique message that will help honor those who have served and open audiences’ eyes to the experience of war.
Elliot Ackerman is a writer, journalist, former White House Fellow, and decorated veteran. His books have been nominated for the National Book Award, the Andrew Carnegie Medal in both fiction and nonfiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. A former Marine, he served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. In his engaging talks, Ackerman discusses the writing process, his experience fighting for our country, and the intersection of literature and war.
James Hatch has heard all the clichés surrounding teamwork, but in the military—where his crew depended on each other for their lives—he truly learned what an effective team looks like. Hatch shares lessons from expected and unexpected places, from his unit to encounters with noncombatants in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the members of the medical team that aided in his recovery after being wounded. He demonstrates that the simple principle of taking care of each other is an essential foundation for any team.
Donovan Campbell didn’t become the director of operations of a top energy technology company by accident. After three deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, Campbell knows the basic principle of leadership—in order to lead, one must learn how to serve. After the success of his Iraq War memoir, Joker One, Campbell has outlined a practical action plan on how to lead effectively in all situations in his recent title, The Leader’s Code. Join Campbell as he describes the necessary characteristics to succeed at an authority position— perfect for executive, religious, corporate, and educational settings.
A war veteran turned memoirist, Brian Castner served three tours of duty in the Middle East. His memoir The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows chronicles his struggle to survive modern combat in Iraq and how he confronted the new person he had become upon his return. Castner astonishes audiences with his powerful and harrowing depiction of the terror, excitement, and camaraderie of combat, and the lonely battle against the unshakable fear, anxiety, and survivor’s guilt that he—like so many veterans—carries inside.
U.S. Marine Corps veteran and debut author Phil Klay takes readers to the front lines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with his searing short story collection, Redeployment. Winner of the 2014 National Book Award, Redeployment explores themes from the veteran’s perspective – describing violence and battle with moving solemnity. Phil lectures on the difficulties and joys of returning to civilian life after war and approaches the tradition of war literature with first-hand authenticity.
Retired U.S. Army staff sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne is a Recalibrated Warrior, motivational speaker, and international advocate for veterans and amputees. He is one of only five servicemen from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ever to survive his injuries as a quadruple amputee. In his memoir, Tough As They Come, and his powerful lectures, Mills tells stories of brotherhood, survival, duty, honor, and coming back from the brink of despair.
Military Journalists and Writers
A Guggenheim Fellow and Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of History at Dartmouth College, Dr. Matthew Delmont is an expert on American history, Black American history, and the civil rights movement. In his passionate and engaging lectures, Dr. Delmont speaks on social justice, diversity and inclusivity, and the history of racism in America. His upcoming book, Half American, analyzes the history of Black Americans who fought bravely abroad in a segregated military during World War II, and returned home to battle white supremacy in America.
One of the most accomplished agents in CIA history, Robert Baer is a frequent guest on major news outlets, shedding light on breaking-news developments, the stakes of foreign intelligence, and military operations in the Middle East. Baer was portrayed by George Clooney in the Academy Award-winning film Syriana, and has extensive expertise speaking on American intelligence, the Middle East, and foreign policy.
Rajiv Chandrasekaran is a former senior correspondent and associate editor of The Washington Post and a National Book Award Finalist. Chandrasekaran partnered with Starbucks CEO and longtime veterans’ advocate Howard Schultz to write For Love of Country, which tells the stories of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. These powerful, unforgettable stories demonstrate just how indebted we are to those who protect us and what they have to offer our nation after their military service is done.
Dexter Filkins is a New Yorker staff writer, award-winning foreign correspondent, and the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Forever War. He has covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, and has received George Polk Awards and three Overseas Press Club Awards for his journalism. A riveting speaker, Filkins opens eyes with tales of reporting from the front lines.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History for Embers of War, his groundbreaking history of the Vietnam War, Fredrik Logevall is a renowned historian and leading expert on international relations and foreign policy. Weaving a compelling narrative through decades and across continents, Logevall delves into the Vietnam War not as an isolated conflict but as an event that the globe conspired to create. This popular speaker and expert on international affairs delivers a history of the Vietnam War that is eerily prescient, with profound implications for our own time.
Lawrence Wright is one of today’s foremost investigative journalists. A staff writer for The New Yorker, Wright is also the author of multiple award-winning books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. His most recent book, The Terror Years, is a compilation of Wright’s journalistic work as one of our nation’s most respected experts on post-9/11 military operations, foreign policy, and the War on Terror.