If you are in the Spokane area, don't miss this lecture. Stiles is the most talented biographer and one of the finest historians working today. His biography The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt won both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award last year. It is an amazing book, but I prefer his earlier work Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War which is the very best biography I have ever read. Stiles works combine deep research, original approaches, a constant eye on the big picture and breathtakingly beautiful historical writing.
As impressive as Stiles is on the printed page, he is even better in person. He rarely gives the same talk twice and is engaging in the question and answer period. His next biography will be about George Armstrong Custer--maybe we can ask about that.