The 20th annual Sun Valley Writers Conference was the best yet. Congratulations to John Burnham Schwartz, Ann Taylor Fleming, Riva Tooley, and the entire Sun Valley Conference Board for their outstanding effort and achievement. Each year, I have been attending this outstanding reader’s conference since its inception. I join many wonderful friends in an incredible intellectual weekend. In the breakout sessions, I listened to Christopher Hill talk about current mid-east problems, and his outstanding service to the United States as a diplomat, Strobe Talbot, the brilliant President of the Brookings Institution, and former Deputy Secretary of State, discuss the Malaysia aircraft tragedy, and how it will impact United States relations with Russia and Putin’s influence.
I listened to the Shakespeare session where we watched clips of some of the finest performances ever, and Shakespeare came alive like never before. Edward Hirsch, a fantastic poet, chronicled the wonderful poems of W.S. Merwin, today’s most fabulous living Nobel poet laureate. Everyone was regaled by Scott Berg’s discussion of Woodrow Wilson, as the most important figure of the 20th Century, based on his latest best selling biography. His dynamic and articulate presentation of a man whose goal was to make the world “safe for democracy” and to envision a League of Nations to end all war, was mesmerizing to the packed audience.
Whether we laughed with David Barry and Ridley Pearson, or cried over John Lewis’ march in Alabama with Martin Luther King, every moment was so special. John Lewis received the David Halberstam Award to a standing ovation. After each presentation, the author signs his book giving the participants an opportunity to acquire their books, and personally say hello. Then, of course, the fabulous backdrop for the conference in the beauty of the surrounding mountains, I always take a fabulous hike by the river. Returning to the wonderful historic Sun Valley Lodge, built by Averill Harriman, each year, is like an old friend in its comfortable ambiance with the extraordinary swan pond that greats you at the entrance, and the beautiful ice skating rink with the many graceful skaters. There are sensational restaurants, and fantastic boutiques which are always an added attraction.