War & Society Roundtable

The War & Society Roundtable, a joint community and university monthly reading group, has been in existence since 2006.  Sponsored jointly by Southern Miss’s Dale Center for the Study of War and Society and the Library of Hattiesburg, Petal, and Forrest County, the Roundtable focuses on a different war and society book each month of the academic year.  A friendly but spirited discussion about the book is moderated by a History faculty member from Southern Miss.  The Roundtable is a great way for community members, faculty, and students to interact while exploring topics of mutual interest.  Copies of each month’s book—generously provided by the Friends of the Hattiesburg Library—are available for loan at the Hattiesburg Public Library well in advance of each meeting.  The Roundtable is free to the public and is generally held at 6pm on the second Tuesday of each month during the academic year.  See below for latest Roundtable schedule:


 Spring 2014      "Spies and Lies: Deception in History"

Print Version

All meetings will begin at 6 p.m. and will be held at the Hattiesburg Library, located at 329 Hardy Street.  Several copies of each book will be available for loan at the library before the discussion.  For more information, contact Sean Farrell at the Library at 601.584.3166 or Ken Swope at The University of Southern Mississippi at 601.266.6457 or Kenneth.Swope@usm.edu.  We hope to see you at our next meeting!


  • Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Book:  OSS in China: Prelude to Cold War by Maochun Yu (Naval Institute Press, 2011).

Moderator:  Kenneth Swope, Professor of History, University of Southern Mississippi.

 “Maochun Yu tells the story of the intelligence activities of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in China during World War II. Drawing on recently released classified materials from the U.S. National Archives and on previously unopened Chinese documents, Yu reveals the immense and complex challenges the agency and its director, General William Donovan, confronted in China. This book is the first research-based history and analysis of America's wartime intelligence and special operations activities in the China, Burma and India during WWII. It presents a complex and compelling story of conflicting objectives and personalities, inter-service rivalries, and crowning achievements of America's military, intelligence and political endeavors, the significance of which goes far beyond WWII and China.”


  • Tuesday, February 11, 2014                  

Book: Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben McIntyre (Broadway Books, 2008).

Moderator: Jason Engle, PhD Candidate in History, University of Southern Mississippi. 

“Eddie Chapman was a charming criminal, a con man, and a philanderer. He was also one of the most remarkable double agents Britain has ever produced. Inside the traitor was a man of loyalty; inside the villain was a hero. The problem for Chapman, his spymasters, and his lovers was to know where one persona ended and the other began. Based on recently declassified files, Agent Zigzag tells Chapman’s full story for the first time. It’s a gripping tale of loyalty, love, treachery, espionage, and the thin and shifting line between fidelity and betrayal.”


  • Tuesday, March 11, 2014

BookSpy Handler: Memoir of a KGB Officer by Victor Cherkashin and Gregory Feifer  (Basic Books, 2005).

Moderator: Brian LaPierre, Associate Professor of History, University of Southern Mississippi.

 “In his four decades as a KGB officer, Victor Cherkashin was a central player in the shadowy world of Cold War espionage. From his rigorous training in Soviet intelligence in the early 1950s to his prime spot as the KGB's head of counterintelligence at the Soviet embassy in Washington, Cherkashin's career was rich in episode and drama. In a riveting memoir, Cherkashin provides a remarkable insider's view of the KGB's prolonged conflict with the CIA.”


  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014

BookInside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground by Julia Sweig  (Harvard University Press, 2004).

Moderator: Matthew Casey, Assistant Professor of History, University of Southern Mississippi .

“Julia Sweig shatters the mythology surrounding the Cuban Revolution in a compelling revisionist history that reconsiders the revolutionary roles of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara and restores to a central position the leadership of the Cuban urban underground, the Llano. Granted unprecedented access to the classified records of Castro's 26th of July Movement's underground operatives--the only scholar inside or outside of Cuba allowed access to the complete collection in the Cuban Council of State's Office of Historic Affairs--she details the ideological, political, and strategic debates between Castro's mountain-based guerrilla movement and the urban revolutionaries in Havana, Santiago, and other cities.”


  • Tuesday, May 13, 2014

BookSouthern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent in  the Heart of the Confederacy by Elizabeth Varon  (Oxford University Press, 2005).

Moderator: Susannah Ural, Associate Professor of History, University of Southern Mississippi.

“Northern sympathizer in the Confederate capital, daring spymaster, postwar politician: Elizabeth Van Lew was one of the most remarkable figures in American history, a woman who defied the conventions of the nineteenth-century South. In Southern Lady, Yankee Spy, historian Elizabeth Varon provides a gripping, richly researched account of the woman who led what one historian called "the most productive espionage operation of the Civil War." Under the nose of the Confederate government, Van Lew ran a spy ring that gathered intelligence, hampered the Southern war effort, and helped scores of Union soldiers to escape from Richmond prisons.”


 Past Roundtables 


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