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08-30-2012

Tom Fitzgerald, Author of Poor Richard's Lament, to Speak at Clarkson University Sept. 14

Ancient Errors, Ben Franklin, and the Reinvention of America

Tom Fitzgerald, will speak at Clarkson University on September 14 about issues related to his new novel, Poor Richard’s Lament, which features Ben Franklin returned to his “dear country.”

Tom FitzgeraldFitzgerald's talk, titled “Ancient Errors, Ben Franklin, and the Reinvention of America,” will focus on the question: "Do today’s troubling events represent an inevitability -- a generalized decline dictated by some immutable law of history -- or is something else going on?" Weighing in on the matter will be Ben Franklin himself, in his own voice.

A member of Clarkson's class of 1964 with degrees a bachelor of science degree in mathematics and a master of science in industrial management, Fitzgerald will speak on campus 6 p.m. in the Bertrand H. Snell Hall Petersen Board Room (Room 330) on the hill campus, as part of the Arts & Sciences Seminar Series. The event is free and open to the public.

According to Michael Zuckerman, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, Poor Richard’s Lament “joins John Barth’s Sot-Weed Factor as the best historical fiction of early America ever written.” Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs, calls Poor Richard’s Lament “a re-imaging of Benjamin Franklin you will not soon forget.”

In addition to publishing six books, Fitzgerald has served as a door-to-door salesman of home study courses, a vocational counselor for adults and children with developmental disabilities, a stockbroker, the assistant to the president of a large health-care corporation, a lobbyist, a technical writer, and a corporate manager. During the Vietnam War, Tom served as a Navy UDT/SEAL.

He and his wife of 45 years, Laurie, a marriage and family therapist, live in New England. They have three grown sons and three grandsons.

Here is an abstract of Fitzgerald's talk: "Things don’t seem to be going very well in America these days. Our economy is in the tank, our government is in paralysis, our schools are in crisis, our popular culture is ever reaching new lows in garishness and superficiality. Greed, narcissism, rudeness, and a smug ignorance abound. Obesity is epidemic. Instability and angst pervade every dimension of public and private life. But why? Do these troubling developments represent an inevitability – a generalized decline dictated by some immutable law of history – or is something else going on? There are, predictably, an abundance of opinions on the matter, but there can be only one truth. In pursuit of this truth, this talk, based on Poor Richard’s Lament, conjectures an unexpected cause-and-effect chain, and thereby an unexpected course of redemption. Weighing in (so to say) is Ben Franklin himself."

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/tfitzgerald.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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