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October 7, 2011

Mark Geiger to Discuss Financial Fraud and Guerrilla Warfare in Civil-War Missouri

While researching family history at a courthouse in Cooper County, Mo., Mark W. Geiger saw an odd pattern in court records from the Civil War years. The surprising story he pieced together resulted in his award-winning book "Financial Fraud and Guerrilla Violence in Missouri’s Civil War, 1861-1865," which reveals a financial conspiracy in Missouri at the beginning of the Civil War.

Geiger, a fellow at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, will discuss his book at noon on Thursday, Nov. 3, in Room 119 on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. A book-signing will follow.

Sponsored by the Kluge Center and the Books & Beyond program of the Library’s Center for the Book, the lecture is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are needed.

Geiger’s first inkling of the conspiracy came by accident. He was looking at the civil court records of a man who had the same name as one of his relatives. As he dug, Geiger discovered evidence that planters in the border state of Missouri had bet on the South’s victory and that a financial scheme they devised had backfired.

In the lecture, Geiger will describe how the resulting collateral damage to the state’s pro-Confederate citizens set off a series of worsening consequences that ultimately cost thousands of people their property and many, their lives. Also, he will examine a topic that has attracted much attention from Civil War historians during the past 20 years: the puzzling intensity of Missouri’s guerrilla conflict. According to Geiger, the money-raising scheme in Missouri was in fact an archaic method of community military mobilization that was used in the nation's early wars up through 1861―but never again after that.

Born in North Dakota, Geiger grew up in Colorado. He received a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College, an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Missouri. On Oct. 28, the Society of Civil War Historians will award Geiger the 2011 Tom Watson Brown Book Prize for the best book on the Civil War published in the preceding year.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.

The Center for the Book was established by Congress in 1977 "to use the resources and prestige of the Library of Congress to promote books, reading, literacy and libraries." With its many educational programs that reach readers of all ages, through its support of the National Book Festival and through its dynamic state centers in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Center for the Book has developed a nationwide network of organizational partners dedicated to promoting the wonders and benefits of reading.

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PR 11-193
10/07/11
ISSN 0731-3527

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