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Willard Sterne Randall
Willard Sterne Randall

Eminent biographer of leading figures of the American Colonial and Revolutionary War periods, will deliver the annual Fossieck Lecture.

NYS Writers Institute, December 6, 2011
4:15 p.m. Fossieck Lecture | Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Huxley Theatre, NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center, Albany, NY

Willard Sterne Randall, a prize-winning biographer of leading figures of the American Revolutionary War period, will deliver the annual Fossieck Lecture of the UAlbany Department of History at 4:15 p.m. in the Standish Room in the Science Library on the uptown campus, Tuesday December 6, 2011. Later in the day he will read from his new book Ethan Allen: His Life and Times (2011), at 8:00 p.m. at the Huxley Theatre in the NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center in Albany, NY.


Willard Sterne Randall
is a prize-winning biographer of leading figures of the American Revolutionary War period. Randall’s new book, Ethan Allen: His Life and Times (2011), is a revelatory portrait of the flamboyant guerilla fighter and Vermont patriot. Allen, a hero of the American Revolution, has always been defined by his daring, pre-dawn attack on the British-controlled Fort Ticonderoga.  Randall challenges our conventional understanding of this largely unexamined patriot, widening the scope of his inquiry beyond the Revolutionary War, and tracing Allen’s beginnings back to his modest origins in Connecticut, and forward to his crusade to secure Vermont’s independence from New York as a state in its own right.

Ethan AllenBiographer Joseph Ellis said, “This is the first biography of Ethan Allen in half a century, and the only one to render him a psychologically complicated, fully flawed hero of the American Revolution.” In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews called it, “The definitive biography of the frontier hero and founder of Vermont....Authoritative, vivid.... Colorful, well-written and nuanced.” Publishers Weekly said, “Randall gives us a complex, protean Allen: strapping frontiersman; cunning entrepreneur; rationalist philosophe whose deistic manifesto scandalized Puritan divines and influenced Thomas Paine; amateur soldier whose impetuosity led to the capture of Fort Ticonderoga and later to disaster… and finally, a Machiavellian politician….”

Randall’s previous books include A Little Revenge: Benjamin Franklin and His Son (1984), Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor (1990), a New York Times Notable Book, Thomas Jefferson: A Life (1993), George Washington: A Life (1998), Forgotten Americans: Footnote Figures Who Changed American History (1999), and Alexander Hamilton: A Life (2003). Writing of the Hamilton biography in the New York Law Journal, Rex Bossert said, “Randall’s excellent book brings alive the complex combination of unbounded ambition and sense of duty that made Mr. Hamilton an overachiever in an age of great individuals.” The New York Times reviewer called the Benedict Arnold book, “A captivating biography…A why-done it…,” and said, “The book reads like a thriller.” Publishers Weekly said of Thomas Jefferson: A Life, “Randall’s masterful, gracefully written portrait brings us closer to Jefferson than any previous biography.”

Randall is Visiting Professor of Humanities at Champlain College in Vermont. A contributing editor to American Heritage Magazine and MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, he regularly reviews biographies for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe and Journal of American History.

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