La Rambla Stage


Master of Ceremonies Steve Piacente.  Special Guests:  Michael Dirda, Charles McGee. Col. USAF (Ret), Peter Cozzens, Frances Frost and Ray Locker.

DSCN4166.jpgMaster of Ceremonies – Steve Piacente

Steve Piacente is an Executive Communication Coach at The Communication Center in Washington DC, a former journalist, and an award-winning author. His books include “Bella”, and “Bootlicker”.  He will be doing a short reading from his forthcoming novel, “Pretender”, which is a sequel to “Bella”.

Michael Dirda
Sponsored by the Kensington Park Friends of the Library

     dirda_mMichael Dirda will talk about his new book, “Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books.”  In these 50 light, personal essays, Dirda writes about subjects as various as  favorite book titles, science fiction conventions, cursive handwriting, scholars in old age, author’s pets and even Washington’s weeklong Pepco power outage. He welcomes questions from the audience about any aspect of books, collecting and reviewing.

           Michael Dirda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning literary journalist and a weekly reviewer for The Washington Post. His previous books include the 2012 Edgar Award-winning “On Conan Doyle,” “Classics for Pleasure” and several other collections of essays, as well as the memoir “An Open Book.”

Charles Edward McGee. Colonel. USAF (Ret)

McGee.jpgCharles E. McGee was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1919. His college study at the University of Illinois was cut short when he was sworn in the enlisted reserve on October 26, 1942 and received orders to enter Army Air Corps flight training. He received his silver wings as a single engine pilot and was commissioned second lieutenant on 30 June 1943, graduating at Tuskegee Army Air Field, Alabama, in Class 43-F.

Colonel McGee remained on active duty for 30 years. He became a command pilot and accumulated over 6,300 total hours. He flew fighter aircraft combat tours in three major military conflicts; 136 missions with the 302nd Fighter Squadron in Italy during WWII, 100 missions with the 67th Fighter Bomber Squadron in Korea, and 173 missions while commanding the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron in Viet Nam. He also commanded the 44th Fighter Bomber Squadron 1951-1953 in the Philippine Islands, the 7230th Support Squadron 1961-63 in Italy in support of the Cold War Jupiter Missile program, and the 1840th Air Base Wing and Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, Missouri in 1972. Decorations awarded include the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star, Air Medal with 25 Oak Leaf Clusters, Army and Air Force Commendation Medals, Presidential Unit Citation, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, several campaign and service ribbons, and the Hellenic Republic WWII Commemorative Medal.

Colonel McGee earned a BA degree in Business Administration and worked in real estate and management activities before retiring as manager of Kansas City, MO Downtown Airport.  He now shares his life experiences by speaking in support of Black Heritage and Youth Career motivation programs. He has received the Boy Scouts Silver Beaver award, and is honored as Distinguished Eagle Scout. He also was honored to receive the first General Noel F. Parrish award for service to Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. Other recognitions are that as an Elder Statesman in Aviation by the National Aeronautics Association, Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor,  recipient of the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service by Tuskegee University and of Humane Letters by Columbia College (Missouri), and the Air Force Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame on 16 July 2011.

Peter Cozzens 

 Cozzens.          No epoch in American history is more deeply steeped in myth than is the era of the Indian Wars of the American West. For 120 years, popular history, film, and fiction has depicted the period as a clearly defined struggle between good and evil, reversing the roles of heroes and villains as necessary to accommodate a changing national conscience. It was to right the historical record that Peter Cozzens wrote The Earth is Weeping: The Indian Wars for the American West, the first objective account of the Indian Wars, and the first book on the subject from a major publisher in over forty years. It will be published by Alfred A. Knopf in October 2016.

Mr. Cozzens will share some of the central themes of his forthcoming book and offer a short reading from the manuscript as well.

Peter Cozzens is the author of sixteen critically acclaimed books on the American Civil War and the American West.

All of Mr Cozzens’ books have been selections of the Book of the Month Club, History Book Club, and/or the Military Book Club. His books This Terrible Sound: The Battle of Chickamauga and The Shipwreck of Their Hopes: The Battles for Chattanooga were both chosen by Civil War Magazine as two of the 100 greatest works ever written on the conflict.  And the History Book Club called his five-volume Eyewitnesses to the Indian Wars “the definitive resource on the military struggle for the American West.” and Shenandoah 1862: Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign was a Choice “Outstanding Academic Title” for 2009.

He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times “Disunion” series, America’s Civil War, Civil War Times Illustrated, and MHQ, among other publications.  Mr Cozzens lives in Kensington.

Frances Frost


Ever since making treks to the public library as a child, Frances has been amazed by the new worlds, people, and experiences one encounters in the pages of a book.  She loves books that will make you laugh, cry, think, and dream.

In her debut novel, Life in Spades, four African-American women rely on their friendship as they face insecurities, negotiate love, and define happiness:

  • Gina, an admittedly unathletic runner training for a marathon with her White boyfriend in an effort to change her mother’s mind about interracial dating;
  • Sherry, a divorcee enjoying her new single life, but still debating motherhood;
  • Cookie, a cupcake baker wrestling with memories of her late fiancée and an obvious attraction to the delivery man who comes by every day; and
  • Laura, a professional escort who plays by a strict set of self-imposed rules in order to maintain her one-woman business.

With humor and insight, Frances Frost weaves a story of these women as they face their personal insecurities, negotiate love, strengthen their friendship, and define happiness as they consider their cards and wonder which will be the trump that wins.

In her second novel, due in Spring 2016, Frances returns to her native South Korea to explore family relationships, cultures, and secrets.  

Frances is an independent author and publisher. She writes fiction and her blog, Just Piddlin’ from her home in Maryland, where she lives with her husband and their four children. | Facebook | Twitter

Ray Locker
Ray Locker book jacket photoAuthor of  “Nixon’s Gamble: How a President’s Own Secret Government Destroyed His Administration”.
After being sworn in as president, Richard Nixon told the assembled crowd that government will listen. … Those who have been left out, we will try to bring in. But that same day, he obliterated those pledges of greater citizen control of government by signing National Security Decision Memorandum 2, a document that made sweeping changes to the national security power structure. Nixon s signature erased the influence that the departments of State and Defense, as well as the CIA, had over Vietnam and the course of the Cold War. The new structure put Nixon at the center, surrounded by loyal aides and a new national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, who coordinated policy through the National Security Council under Nixon s command. Using years of research and revelations from newly released documents, USA Today reporter Ray Locker upends much of the conventional wisdom about the Nixon administration and its impact and shows how the creation of this secret, unprecedented, extra-constitutional government undermined U.S. policy and values. In doing so, Nixon sowed the seeds of his own destruction by creating a climate of secrecy, paranoia, and reprisal that still affects Washington today.
Ray Locker is the Washington enterprise editor for USA Today, where he supervises investigative reporting in the Washington bureau, as well as the White House, military and money in politics reporters. His work as a reporter and editor has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes. He covered the final years of George Wallace’s political career at theMontgomery Advertiser in Alabama; spent 13 years as a reporter, columnist, and editor at theTampa Tribune; worked for theLos Angeles Times; and ran the Associated Press bureau in Sacramento, where he coordinated coverage of California government and politics. Locker is married to Margaret Talev, a White House correspondent for Bloomberg News. They have two daughters and live in Rockville, Maryland.