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May 21, 2004

The History and Myths Surrounding the U.S. Flag: Authors Discuss American Cultural Icons

"Books & Beyond"Series Event to Take Place on Flag Day

The history and myths surrounding the flag of the United States and other American cultural icons are the subject of a talk by authors Karal Ann Marling and Vincent Virga at 6:30 p.m. on Flag Day, Monday, June 14, in the sixth floor Mumford Room, James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The program is part of the Center for the Book's author series, "Books & Beyond," which highlights books of special relevance to the Library of Congress. Co-sponsored by the Library's Publishing Office, the event is free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are required. A book signing will follow the presentation.

Karal Ann Marling's book, "Old Glory: Unfurling History" (Bunker Hill Publishing, in association with the Library of Congress, 2004) is based on the Library's vast holdings of images of the American lag. "Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States," by Vincent Virga and curators of the Library of Congress (with historical commentary by Alan Brinkley), has just been reissued in paperback by Bunker Hill Publishing in association with the Library of Congress.

"Old Glory: Unfurling History" features 70 images from the collections of the Library of Congress that tell the story of the history of the American flag. "Whatever else it may be - symbol, source of deep emotion or an image in a poem, the American flag as a real, tangible thing, too," Marling writes in "Old Glory." To illustrate the story of the flag, she uses images that document the role of the flag from Revolutionary times to the present. Along the way, she debunks many of the myths surrounding the flag, tells the story of the origins of the Flag Code in the 1920s and reveals how the flag was first used in the political and commercial arenas.

"Eyes of the Nation" (Alfred A. Knof, in association with the Library of Congress, 1997) is a one-volume pictorial and narrative history of the United States with more than 500 exceptional illustrations. The book features seven chapters of lucid historical commentary by the distinguished historian Alan Brinkley. The art selections of Vincent Virga and the Library's curators illustrate every stage of the nation's development and present rarely seen images of America's cultural icons, such as the Statue of Liberty and the American flag.

Karal Ann Marling is professor of art history and American studies at the University of Minnesota. She has published extensively, including "George Washington Slept Here" (Harvard University Press, 1988).

Vincent Virga has been called "America's foremost picture editor." He has researched, edited and designed picture sections for more than 150 books, most recently for "Living History" (Scribner, April 2004) by Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as the full-length photo essay "The Eighties" (with a foreword by Richard Rhodes, Harper Collins, 1992) and "Eisenhower" (with Michael Beschloss, Harper Collins, 1990).

The Center for the Book was established in 1977 as a public-private partnership to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy and libraries. For information about the center's forthcoming events, projects and the activities of its affiliates in 50 states and the District of Columbia, visit its Web site at

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PR 04-108
ISSN 0731-3527

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