The Democracy Book Club: The Military & Politics: A Threat to Our Democracy?

Event Date: December 10, 2022 5:30 pm

Writers for Democratic Action and Democracy Book Club presents an Evening with Phil Klay, Tony Schwalm, & Elliot Ackerman, moderated by Jacki Lyden discussing the politicization of the military and how it affects our democracy.


About the Panelists:

Phil Klay is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. His short story collection Redeployment won the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction and the National Book Critics’ Circle John Leonard Prize for best debut work in any genre, and was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2014 by The New York Times. His novel Missionaries was named one of the Wall Street Journal’s best 10 books of 2020, and listed by former President Barack Obama’s as one of the best books of the year. His nonfiction work won the George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize for Journalism, Arts & Letters in the category of Cultural & Historical Criticism in 2018. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and the Brookings Institution’s Brookings Essay series. He currently teaches fiction at Fairfield University. His essay collection, Uncertain Ground, was released in May of 2022 with Penguin Press.

Originally from Macon, Georgia, Tony Schwalm spent much of his adult life as an Army officer, serving as a tank company commander in the First Gulf War in 1991 and leading Green Berets during the Haiti invasion in 1994. Retiring from the Army in 2004, he works as a consultant to the Department of Defense and lectures to business students at the University of South Florida on the merits of improvisation as learned in the world of guerrilla warfare. In 2009, his essay, Trek, won first prize at the Mayborn Literary Non-fiction Conference at the University of North Texas and was the basis for the book The Guerrilla Factory: the Making of Special Force Officers, the Green Berets published by Simon and Schuster in 2012. He makes his home in Tampa, Florida.

Elliot Ackerman is the New York Times-bestselling author of the novels 2034, Red Dress In Black and White, Waiting for Eden, Dark at the Crossing, and Green on Blue, as well as the memoirs The Fifth Act: America’s End in Afghanistan and Places and Names: On War, Revolution and Returning. His books have been nominated for the National Book Award, the Andrew Carnegie Medal in both fiction and non-fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize among others. He is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, and his stories and journalism have been included in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Travel Writing. He is both a former White House Fellow and Marine, and served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. He divides his time between New York City and Washington, D.C.


About the Moderator:

As an award-winning journalist for NPR, many can instantly recognize Jacki Lyden’s voice as she was a host and correspondent for over thirty years. She is passionate about the intersection between mental health and caregiving, a subject that affects almost one-fourth of Americans over 45. In 1997, Jacki published Daughter of the Queen of Sheba, a critically-acclaimed memoir which chronicles her life growing up in the presence of her mother’s profound mental illness. The memoir, which The New York Times described as “vivid, original, lyrical,” was immediately optioned by Wind Dancer Films for Meryl Streep and Gwyneth Paltrow. She has given a myriad of talks on mental illness and still actively partakes in her mother’s care. Jacki is at work on a new memoir, Tell Me Something Good, which frames how life can change in a moment. She is a 2017-2018 recipient of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism, and early in her career, she won the Grand Prize from the National Mental Health Foundation for a series on the incarceration of the mentally ill in Montana. An avid traveler, Jacki has been all over the world for her work and covered the Middle East for NPR across three conflicts, including both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jacki regards herself first and foremost as a storyteller and looks for the distinctive human voice in a huge range of national and international stories. She has been awarded the Gracie Award for American Women in Radio and Television and has also received the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for Broadcasting and Journalism. In 2017, she created “Love Comes in at the Eye,” an annual workshop for memoir and first-person writers and podcasters in Renvyle, Ireland. Jacki is married to the Washington Post photographer, Bill O’Leary and lives in and between her residencies in Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, and rural Wisconsin.