Author to share ‘outside perspective’

Carlos Eire

When Carlos Eire came to America from Cuba in 1962, the only thing he had was two changes of clothes and a copy of the Imitation of Christ.

Now, after being in America for more than 49 years, Eire has authored eight books and is a professor of medieval and early modern history at Yale University.

Eire will be the next speaker for the George Washington Forum on American Ideas, Politics and Institutions. In its second year, the forum has hosted more than 10 speakers so far and continues with tomorrow’s lecture.

Eire’s story starts in Havana, Cuba during Fidel Castro’s regime.

He was separated from his family when he fled Cuba and spent the rest of his adolescence in and out of foster homes in Miami, Fla.

Learning to Die in Miami, his latest book, will be the main focus for his talk tonight. His first memoir, Waiting for Snow in Havana, takes him from the start of the Cuban revolution to his escape to Miami. This most recent book picks up where Snow left off.

“It’s an interesting take on America from an outside perspective,” said Robert Ingram, associate professor of history and director of the Washington Forum.  

Ingram said that he looks for speakers who spark discussions rarely addressed on Ohio University’s campus. The Cuban revolution may be rarely conferred, but the forum has also hosted more controversial figures such as John Yoo this past fall.

“There are so many speakers we have who are preaching to the choir,” Ingram said. “Most people walk away feeling good because they just heard a whole speech on something they already agree with.”

The forum is entirely funded by two private organizations: The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Thomas W. Smith Foundation. The forum has been funded by other awards and donations in the past.

Ingram said that when the forum started, the emphasis was primarily on modern perceptions of American history. Now that the forum was able to continue, however, the scope has broadened to how America has formed in the context of Western civilization, both historically and contemporarily.

The forum has seen steady attendance around 100 people, except for the Yoo speech, which brought in nearly 200. With Eire up next, Ingram feels confident that the envelope will continue to be pushed.

“The only way I’ll feel like I failed is if someone says it was boring,” he said.


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