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William Kennedy, Photo by Phillip CarusoPulitzer Prize winning author to explore Saratoga’s hidden past

Albany, NY—Pulitzer Prize winning author William J. Kennedy will explore Saratoga Springs’ gambling past in a one-hour moderated conversation with award winning, syndicated political radio talk show host Susan Arbetter, Wednesday, August 1 at 7 p.m. in the Canfield Casino in Saratoga Springs’ Congress Park.  The program is free and open to the public.

In this discussion, Kennedy will draw from a lifetime of research in regional history and personal observation.  While much of the talk will focus on the importance of the Spa City as a resort, according to the author, attention will also be directed on the parts of the city seldom discussed.  “I’ll talk about John Hennessey, a Troy street kid and river rat, who rose in the world through his fists and his politics to become an exalted gambler courted by the New York elite and who brought the casino and the track to Saratoga.  I’ll talk about latter day gamblers and mob figures who moved into Saratoga -- Arnold Rothstein, Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano—how it was all linked to politics, and how a politician -- Governor Thomas E. Dewey—closed it down,” Kennedy said.

Born in Albany and educated at nearby Siena College, Kennedy, a former journalist and one of the nation’s most important living authors, has distinguished himself with books about Albany and its people.  His works include The Ink Truck (1969), Legs (1975), Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game (1978), Ironweed (1983, winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; film 1987), and Roscoe (2002). 

The event is jointly sponsored by the New York State Archives Partnership Trust, the Saratoga Springs History Program, and the New York State Writers Institute.  Funding for the program comes from the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust and the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.