Whether you love her moose-hunting, hockey-mom appeal, or hate her far-right, "don't you dare teach my children about birth control" politics, Sarah Palin is the fruit of the efforts of the founding fathers' wives, sisters, and mothers. Those women, of course, had to exert power and influence from behind the scenes. Longtime political correspondent and commentator Cokie Roberts's latest book, Ladies of Liberty, is her second tome to explore early American women's might, usually hidden by the men they assisted and guided. With both the wit that made her a hit pundit on TV, and respect for the contributions of women who were deeply entrenched in politics in every way but never held office or titles, Roberts studies American women, from John Adams's presidency in 1797 through James Monroe's terms ending in 1825. She covers the juicy gossip people of the day spread through mail, women who ran businesses when their husbands and fathers were occupied with politics or war, and the softer sides of the men who dominate high school history books exposed through their letters. Roberts's speaking engagement at the Fitzgerald was supposed to happen months ago, but with Palin and Hillary Clinton as the first women in the nation's history to dominate a national presidential election, her thoughts and the book are especially pertinent now.
Tue., Sept. 23, 7 p.m., 2008