Many might be surprised to learn that the biggest names in the world have long journeyed to Richmond, Virginia—heads of state and titans of business, cultural icons and iconoclasts, newsmakers and newscasters, leading thinkers and A-list celebrities.
The reason: No other American city turns out in such numbers to see the most influential people in the world share their experiences, perspectives, and ideas live on stage . . . at The Richmond Forum.
The Forum has wowed audiences for three decades, but the tradition of a large and vibrant lecture series has been a unique part of Richmond’s culture and identity since the 19th century—and has inspired other cities to follow suit.
For The Forum Files, award-winning author Ray McAllister rummaged through more than a half-century of Richmond Forum files and meeting minutes, scoured more than 150 years of newspaper articles, and interviewed scores of Richmonders and Forum speakers alike to unearth the history and fascinating behind-the-scenes stories of The Richmond Forum and its predecessors.
For those in the Forum audience, The Forum Files will tell “the rest of the story” (yes, Paul Harvey once spoke here), and for those not in the know, a new perspective on Richmond is about to be revealed.
Just some of the fascinating behind-the-scenes stories contained within this lavishly illustrated book:
- Former Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev drove his Secret Service detail batty, repeatedly ordering his car stopped so he could jump out and meet ordinary Richmonders.
- Famed director Steven Spielberg doesn’t accept speaking invitations—but he made an exception for a fascinating evening in Richmond.
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu sneaked away privately before his speech—to visit the statue of his late friend, Arthur Ashe, Jr.
- Baseball superstar Cal Ripken, Jr., meeting with three young players, couldn’t have known one fourteen-year-old would become a football superstar. That player, Russell Wilson, himself agreed to appear at The Forum twelve years later.
- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered both a foreign policy speech . . . and a surprise virtuoso piano performance.
- B. B. King was expected to give a talk, instead, he let Lucille do most of the talking. He drew a standing ovation—and insisted on receiving his very large payment in cash.
The Forum Files should be on the must-read list—and the coffee table—of anyone who loves The Forum, Richmond, or the inspiring pairing of big names and big ideas.
The Forum Files // Hardcover // 148 pages, plus Foreword and Preface // $38.95