The Lewes History Book Festival offers an inviting atmosphere

For the first time in three years, the Lewis Historic Book Festival welcomed people into the state’s first town for a weekend full of book discussions with some of the country’s top authors.

“We didn’t know what to expect given the realities of the ongoing pandemic, but we were thrilled to see so many people heading to Louis to hear our authors talk about history,” said Jane Mason, festival co-chair. Library on 2nd Street.

The event hosted 21 authors over a period of 36 hours. Both the keynote and closing titles were sold out, and many other presentations were close to or at full capacity. Mason said the inviting atmosphere was appreciated by the authors and festival goers.

“Our authors loved the HBF audience – very curious and engaged, they asked great questions and I really told them how excited they were about their books,” she said.

“This year’s festival was, by all accounts, a proud and exciting moment for those who worked so hard and selflessly to make this possible, especially when there is still uncertainty about COVID in the air,” said Ronald Collins, festival co-chair. “Our sponsors supported us generously, our board of directors and volunteers participated valiantly, our authors performed superbly, and, as far as we can tell, our audience received it all with enthusiasm.”

Mason said that while many felt more comfortable wearing masks indoors and liberally making use of available hand sanitizer, that didn’t stop them from fully participating in the festivities.

Mason said COVID really shaped the selection of authors this year, with organizers selecting authors who can travel to Lewes by car or train. They also chose books released earlier in the year because book publishing, like many other industries, struggles with supply chain issues.

Two authors tested positive for COVID just days before the event, but organizers worked with Mid-South Audio to move from in-person discussion to a live, remote appearance.

The 2023 event is scheduled to take place from September 29 to October 1. Although work has already begun, Mason said, the core of the effort will begin in January.


This year’s keynote address was given by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Buzz Besinger, author of the New York Times bestselling book, “The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II,” the true story of a soccer game played between two Marine battalions in Guadalcanal, part of the Solomon Islands, in the Pacific Theatre. As with his other book, Friday Night Lights, Besinger said the sport is only a small part of the overall story, as he follows the trials and tribulations of soldiers’ lives during the war after a football game.

A large crowd filled the fellowship hall of Bethel United Methodist Church on September 23. After a welcome letter from Collins and an introduction from Mason, Bessinger took to the stage to tell a story that looks set to become a movie.

The story of the Mosquito Bowl was little known before Bissinger’s book. But by researching and more searching, discover the amazing story. He learned dozens of Marines from the Sixth Division who were training for the invasion of Okinawa, Japan, and played college football for prestigious programs. Constant talk of trash among them led to a mosquito bowl on Christmas Eve 1944 on the bug-infested island of Guadalcanal. About 1,500 Marines lined the field when the game was played.

“This wasn’t just a little game,” Besinger said. “They built goal posts out of coconuts. They built an organizing field on the parade ground…They had programs. They advertised starting lists in the PA system. The game came out on parts of the Pacific on what they called the Mosquito Radio Network. They had Officials This was as close to the real thing as possible [as it could be]. “

The book traces five of the 65 men who played in the game – George Murphy of Notre Dame, Tony Botkovich of Purdue, Robert Bowman of Wisconsin, David Schreiner of Wisconsin and John McLoughry of Brown. Bissinger clearly admits that the mosquito bowl is almost a footnote. It is a hook to tell a larger story of the heroism and sacrifices made by the young people who gave their lives at home to fight for freedom and democracy.

Of the 65 men who played, 15 were killed in Okinawa. Today, only one of these men is still alive.

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